8 Tips for a Pro Photo Shoot

Photography sessions with professional photographers can be expensive and time consuming, but are well worth the effort. Branding has become an important factor for any company’s success and how you appeal to your audience is the key. Portraying the right image through photography can sometimes be daunting, if your not experienced. If you are interested in hiring a professional photographer and director for product, portrait, advertising, event or an office/group situation, these few pointers can help you get the most from your session:

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  1. Office or Group Setting Photography. Ask the participants to bring a change of clothing to get more than one situation, just make sure it’s a different color than the first outfit. Women may also consider wearing their hair a different way when changing their clothing so it seems like a different day. Men can simply change their tie and jacket if it’s a scene from the waist up. Look at some examples of office situations by perusing an online photo stock company and send them to your photographer ahead of time so she/he will know what you are thinking. Better yet, ask your art director to do it for you after you have established your company or personal brand image.
  2. Product Photography. Determine, ahead of time, the type of environment that would be best for the product. What will it be used for – advertising or package design? Will an in-use visual be better or would featuring the product with a soft background be preferred? I always think it’s a good idea to do both. Answering these questions in advance can save you from last minute scrambling for backdrops and models. Discuss the color of the backdrop with your art director and photographer to ensure that it will enhance the product. Leaving it up to the photographer alone may leave you disappointed. Most photographers bring two standard backgrounds, grey and blue.
  3. Portrait Photography. If the subject of the portrait has not met the photographer in advance of the photo session, ask them to send the photographer a link to the their social media page so they know what the person looks like. advise them on the best choice of clothing for their skin tone. If you are art directing the shoot and the person is not on social media, ask them to forward a photo to you. If it’s a corporate setting, advise them on dressing appropriately for their profession and wearing their favorite dress or suit that is also comfortable and flattering. People tend to relax more in clothing that makes them feel good about themselves. Suggest that they bring a different color jacket with them, just in case the outfit they chose isn’t working well. I have even looked through people’s closets to choose the best colors and clothing for the shoot. If the subject of the photo session has a blemish or birthmark, do not assume that they want it removed. Ask them, privately, if they would like any Photoshop work done, but don’t call attention to it, as they may be fond of their mark.
  4. Photographing Food in Restaurants. If you’re directing a shoot that will be advertising a restaurant, indoor and outdoor shots are important as well as the food. Take as many situations as your time and budget will allow. The food needs to look as good as the people eating it, so doing your homework is important. If fondue is their specialty, make sure it looks delicious and fun to eat, not unappetizing and messy. Food can be prepared ahead of time and heated up just before the photo session. Steam may not show up well, so you may have to figure on some Photoshop work being done when planning your budget. If you are using people (models) interacting with the food and each other, plan the scenario in advance. Most models get paid by the hour and could kill your budget if you wing it on-site. Make sure that they do not upstage the food and service by placing a focus on the key subjects.
  5. Real Estate Photography. Turn on all the lights in the house and make sure all clutter is removed before the photographer arrives. Let the photographer know the direction of the sunrise and sunset, in advance of the session, so they can plan the best time of day for outdoor shots. Otherwise, you may be paying for a return visit. The room may appear cozy, but fireplaces may not photograph well when lit. Speak to your photographer ahead of time and ask if they would prefer to add the fire later.
  6. Event Photography. Outdoor events can be a blessing or a curse, depending on situation and the weather. We’ve experienced beautiful, sunny days with wind gusts up to 60 mph. That many not be so great if you are holding down the umbrellas and other equipment while directing your photo shoot. Sometimes you don’t have a choice, such as with an event that only happens one day per year. For both indoor and outdoor events, think about your objectives and expectations before the event. Consider both candid and contrived situations. Write down the different scenes that you would prefer and make sure to influence those scenes at the event. Keep in mind that an event can take on a life of its own and create an incongruous result – which may be perfect for your needs… so be flexible and have fun with it!
  7. Background is Important. Be sure to scope out the area before the photo session, especially if it is important to the final product or service. If you haven’t hired an art director to direct an indoor group or room setting, make sure you bring a few plants and flowers, if there aren’t any at the site. If you are driving to the site, you can easily place those additional items in the vehicle. These items can be moved around easily and can enhance the shoot. I like to match a few of the flower colors to the hair color or clothing of my subjects. It creates a subtle and complementary effect.
  8. Read the Contract. So many people do not read the fine print on the photographer’s contract only to discover that they may not own the rights to the photos, even though they paid for them. It’s common for photographers to reuse the photos from one assignment and charge a different customer a fee for the new usage. Photographers can even take all the photos from your assignment and put them onto a stock photo site for resale, if you approve the contract without reading it. Your contract can also limit the usage. For example, if you wanted to use the photos for billboard and it was only specified in the contract for use in a brochure. It’s a good idea to check with the photographer beforehand, especially if you think you could be using the photo for more media.

Hiring an art director to help with the strategy and direction for your professional photo session can save you more money than you spend for their services. They have an eye for creating the right situation for your needs and are experienced at working with photographers. If you need help for your next project, send us a message. We look forward to hearing from you.

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