Planning a photoshoot

Hi, it’s Michael from Nishimachi Photography. Taking photos based on inspiration is a beautiful expression of art. Taking photos based on the brief of a client can be very different. I’m going to explain how I go about meeting my client’s needs and exceeding their expectations.

In my early 20’s, which was in the early 2000’s, I studied the Diploma of Photography at Photography Studies College in Melbourne. In addition to expanding on the technical aspects of photography, I learnt how to plan a photoshoot to meet a paying client’s brief.

  1. Outline a clear objective – style of photos, number of photos and when they must be completed
  2. Plan the location – we must have a location suitable for the photography to take place
  3. Organise the props or scene – it might be real estate, cars, small products, or an event
  4. Check the gear – I always run an operation test the day before the shoot, never on the day, because I will be able to arrange a replacement piece of kit, or worst case postpone the shoot with more notice than on the day
  5. On set – whether I’m working with my client on set or they are offsite, I always run over the plan for the shoot to set expectations of how it’s going to roll
  6. What happens after the shoot? I’ll go into that in the next article.

Outline a clear objective

What does the client want to achieve? Are they selling a product, creating a memory, or capturing an event?

It’s highly important to understand the client’s needs. I present reference images, either my own or another photographer’s. We discuss the look and feel desired. It’s the best time to set expectations – firstly the visuals, but also an understanding of the timeline we need to work to.

Plan the location

Based on the brief and objectives set, we discuss the location and its visual fit with the shots required. There also needs to be practical considerations; time of day (does the sun direction influence it), traffic, people, even weather.

Organise the props or scene

In a studio shoot, I’ll confirm what props are already at the studio and what I or the client need to bring. This is when I reference the client’s brief to make sure we’ve got what we need. Whether it’s costume items or props such as furniture or accessories.

In an outdoor shoot, I’ll go to the location ahead of the shoot just to make sure there hasn’t been any changes that might affect the shoot. Such as condition of the scene, any litter, fallen tree branches, signage. I’ve had some curve balls in the past; bollards being erected so I can’t park the car where we’d planned, flooded carpark where we’d planned to shoot the car, and even a locked gate!

Check the gear

I run through all my gear’s operation; battery checks, flash firing, lenses, lighting stands, reflectors, camera supports, memory cards cleared and formatted. I’ve never identified a fault, but if it would happen, this gives me time to plan loan of gear or look for alternatives or reschedule the shoot.

On set

Going over the proceedings of the shoot is something that’s helpful to all who are involved on set. No matter how small the crew is, even if it’s one person, I’ll talk through the order of things during the shoot. With a portrait shoot for example, we’ll decided on the order of the outfits, accessories needed, lighting and backdrops. I’ll also outline how much time we need for each stage and set an alarm to prompt the next stage.

Overall, I find this sequence of communications allows all parties to consider what’s required to achieve the results we want. Communication is the key and fundamental to success on a shoot.

If you’d like to discuss how I can help achieve your results, please contact me today.

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