I’m writing this article after I had yet another surprise during a photoshoot this morning. I was shooting an office for an interior designer and when talking with their client, they told me they needed the photos for a magazine and for themselves as well. My client, the interior design firm, never mentioned the magazine and specifically told me that their client did not want the images (I had asked about it).
Preparation is the key to a successful photoshoot.
While this specific story did not have a lot of impact on the photoshoot (I only had to shoot a couple of environmental portraits), I’ve had worse experiences in the past. Preparation is the key to a successful photoshoot.
Now, preparation can be quite different depending on your type of photography and your clients. But here are a few things that can help you, especially if you’re shooting commercial photography.
Ask a lot of questions
When something goes wrong on one of my photoshoots, I could often have avoided (or mitigated) the issue by asking more questions. When a client hires you for a photoshoot, you need to ask as many questions as you can. From the shot list to the delivery date, you need to nail all the details. Other things you need to think about: location access, location readiness, permits, usage rights, retouching, etc.
Scout the location of the photoshoot
Unless you’re shooting in a studio, you need to scout the location where you will be shooting. Earlier this year, I went to a photoshoot without scouting because it was short notice. It turned out that I couldn’t shoot when I wanted because one of the rooms wasn’t oriented as I thought it would be. The client was understanding, but I had to come back the next day. Had I scouted the location, I would have planned the photoshoot differently.
Also, make sure to discuss with your client what how you need the location to be on the day of the photoshoot. For interior photography, I often need the place to be clean and organized.
When I shoot for an architect, I am often in a location that belongs to their client. Sometimes, the client isn’t too happy about a photoshoot. Or things happening at the locations make shooting impossible. Other times, their client expect to receive the images for free.
Third parties are often involved in photoshoots: a second client, a second shooter, a make-up artist, etc. Make sure roles are clear and communicate with everybody. Ask your client about third-party usage rights. Give a clear schedule to everyone.
Have them sign a contract
Remember the story at the beginning of the article? I could have avoided some of the issues by making my client sign a contract. Unfortunately, because I know them and I was very busy between the day they hired me (less than a week before) and the photoshoot, I did not. It was a big mistake, and I won’t make it again.
Not only will a contract protect you if you have licensing or payment issues, it also is a great way to summarize everything about the photoshoot. From the details of the assignment to the usage rights, everything should be included in your contract.
I hope this advice will help you stay prepared for your next photoshoot. What are your tips for preparing your photoshoots?