When working with photographers there are a few easy things you as a client can do to make sure you’re on the same page and produce the best work you possibly can together. Here’s five tips you can keep in mind when working with photographers.
1 – Give your photographer a thorough briefing detailing the bigger picture
Personally I like to know the background story of the shoot we’re doing, why we’re shooting these photos to begin with. If you’re commissioning a campaign then I like to know the specific goals and message of the campaign. Additionally, I like to get to know the core values of my client. Anything that will help me get a better feel for the project and client can be immensely helpful. Oftentimes, my clients will have already drafted a general briefing for internal use or to show to their own clients (in the case of shooting for a marketing agency). I like to ask my clients to forward me this brief so I’m completely up to speed about the project. Naturally, there’s no need for these documents to be horribly long, just one or two pages will often suffice.
2 – Timing and weather are key
In a lot of my own shots I work with top athletes that are on a busy schedule. This means for most shoots we’re dependent on when the athlete has time to fit in a photoshoot. Probably a lot of clients reading this have to work within restrictions themselves: locations may not always be available and models are often on a schedule.
However, it is imperative to understand that the time of day we’re shooting at will be a major determining factor in the final result. Myself I’ve fallen in love with shooting in backlit conditions, which helps me add a certain warm and cinematic feel to my images. Shooting at noon with the sun high in the sky will yield totally different results in terms of lighting and general feeling. Photographers will probably be happy to show you some images of how different weather conditions and shooting times can have an enormous effect on the final outcome.
3 – Use a moodboard to make sure you and your photographer are both on the same page
When discussing the plan for a shoot, photographers and clients try to establish what the desired result is exactly. The subject, location, models and logistics are likely defined. It is important to realize that as photographers and clients will both visualize what the final photos will look like, these mental images may not always be aligned. I’ve found it to be extremely useful to look at some photos together to make sure client and photographer are talking about the same thing. When using just words, there is always the threat that certain descriptions mean two different things to two different people.
I highly recommend making this moodboard a collaboration between client and photographer. For instance, photographers can create the board, inviting their client to add some of their own photos. A trick I often employ when constructing a mood board with a client is adding some photos I feel definitely do not represent the style we’ll be shooting. Including photos that feature totally different lighting, post processing, composition or poses and clearly stating that these are what you will not be shooting is a great tool. It defines what would be an unsatisfactory result. Explicitly stating what’s wrong with these photos also goes a long way to making sure you’re on the same page.
4 – Give your photographer some time to bond with the subject
Now I realize this may be a tricky one when shooting with busy people, however I feel that for me personally it’s absolutely vital to connect with the athletes I’m shooting. Just having a couple of minutes before picking up my camera for small talk makes a world of difference. It’s great to have the time to show a genuine interest in the person I’m photographing. Models having faith in a photographer is immensely helpful when asking them to repeat a certain pose or action multiple times or ask them to maybe take a slightly awkward position.
Additionally, clients could forward photographers’ portfolios to models or athletes before the shoot. Of course perhaps the email won’t even be opened, but if they do they’ll have a good feel for the photographer’s work and trust their skills.
5 – Communicate clearly about how and when the final images should be submitted and will be used
Photographers will work their butts off to satisfy clients and exceed their expectations. In order to best accomplish this, it’s vital to clearly communicate with your photographer about when you need the images from the shoot and how they’ll be used.
For instance, I’ll always send my clients the final images at high resolution. Normally I’ll also make sure to include a folder of these same images resized for social media. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have optimal resolutions for images and using software like Lightroom it’s literally 3 clicks worth of work to export your images at these resolutions using presets. This can save clients a ton of work. Also, if the images will be used for a blog, website or other purposes, be sure to provide your photographer with the desired dimensions for the images so they can make your life easier.
Second, clearly setting dates for submitting the final images is crucial in avoiding any nasty situations. Of course photographers will work hard to finish their images as quickly as possible and wouldn’t want to make their clients miss some deadline, but in order to do so we have to be aware of that deadline in the first place. Be sure to clearly communicate any deadlines with your photographer before the shoot. Will you be needing some images for a press release, a quick social media post or will the images be used in some design that will need to go to print before a set date? If such deadlines aren’t communicated until after the shoot, clients run the risk that their photographer will be busy with some other shoot or travelling, for instance.
Some of these tips may seem rather obvious but are all too easy to forget. By clearly communicating, clients and photographers can make sure they’re on the same page and do the best work that they possibly can.