Whether you are commissioning a photographer for a private portrait shoot, or you are undertaking a big commercial project for a product/brand, having a brief is very important! It surprises me how many people get in touch to request a quote or book a photoshoot but simply have no idea of what it is they would like.
Creative, not psychic
Whilst most photographers are creative by nature, they very rarely possess the ability to read minds (how damn cool would that be though!?).
Portrait photography applies to photography that focusses on the people in the image. This can either be in a studio environment or outdoors in the streets, a local park or woodland area etc.
Portrait photography covers images of a solo newborn/child/adult, a couple, a family or group. There are also various styles of portraiture photography, for example: Lowkey portraits. These are dramatic, usually black and white style image of stark contrasts between light and shade. They look great printed large onto a canvas and hung in your living room or office space.
Fine art portraits: These are typically more formal looking portraits where the subjects aren't necessary laughing or smiling.
Beauty portraits: Beauty portraits are all about the face, hair and makeup. They are generally really tightly cropped to the face.
Fashion: Fashion portraits are typically full length with the focus being on the outfit.
'Typical portraits' are the sort you will typically see when you think a photoshoot. Happy, smiling portraits of people.
What you should know before contacting your chosen photographer:
Do you want to shoot in a studio or outdoors (location)?
If studio-based, what colour background would you prefer?
What genre/style of portraiture are you wanting?
How many people are to be included in the images?
With this information, your photographer is able to best start advising you correctly and once a booking is confirmed, the photographer will be able to start formulating ideas, poses, lighting options etc.
It's all good and well to 'wing it', but it's your money, and I'd prefer we ensure we get the images you have envisaged. You're not going to be very happy turning up for a shoot with an idea in your head, not verbalising this, and then the photographer goes down a very different path to the one in your vision.
If your photographer does not ask you these questions prior to your shoot, then I would suggest that you bring them up prior to making your booking. Many photographers are either natural light (using natural sunlight to light their subjects) or studio/flash photographers. Many of the more experienced photographers will be equally proficient in either scenario using flash outdoors to enhance a predominately natural light lit image.
My top tip for portraiture preparation
To anyone considering a photoshoot, whether solo or group is to create a board on Pinterest of the types of images you like. Please bear in mind you only have X amount of time for your photo shoot. And it's not likely (unless you are paying for it) that you will shoot in a studio AND outdoors (or vice versa). So when compiling your board, ensure the inspirational images you collect are similarish in some ways, for example, similar/same background colour/outdoor location. Once you've created the album, share it with your Photographer so they have an idea of what YOU like. Professional photographers will then begin the creative process of making those goals achievable. They may advise on outfits. They should definitely be directing (telling you how to pose, move this arm, tilt your head up, turn your shoulders to the left etc) you. They will prepare the studio (where applicable) and lighting so that it complements the style of portraiture you have shared.
Help your photographer to help you
Commercial photography encompasses photography that is used to promote and sell a brand or product.
Genres of commercial photography include:
Staff/business/corporate headshots - these are typically studio based headshots (focussed on the head and shoulders) however outdoor or location style shots are becoming more common. Choose the style that best fits your brand.
Lifestyle brand images (or simply lifestyle portraits) show you and/or your staff going about a 'day as usual'. Whether it's a board meeting, a training session, someone working at their PC, a mechanic under a car or a surgeon performing an operation.
Product photography. As the name suggests this is photography centred on your product/s. Whether you're a winery, brewery, fabricator, crafter good product photography is proven to increase your sales!
Food photography. Again, what it says on the tin. Do you produce edible products? Whether a part-time, home-based baker or a large national bakery, good food photography MAKES people want to buy your product. I've actually left the house to go purchase food after seeing an image of a dish!
Flat lay product/food photography. These types of images have become popular on social media, especially Instagram and Pinterest for product, travel, food and lifestyle focussed imagery. They are essentially photographs taken directly from above the subject matter.
What you should know before contacting your chosen photographer for a commercial shoot:
If you're booking a headshot photoshoot:
How many people will be photographed?
Do you want studio based or location-based images? (formal vs more casual)
If you're opting for studio, what colour background to you require? White, whilst most common shouldn't be recommended. Black and grey being other common colours.
Is it just individual headshots or do you want group/team images also?
What is the primary use of the headshots? For instance, an internal phonebook system, 'Meet the team' section of the website, Marketing campaign etc. You photographer will be able to advise best practise depending on the intended usage of the images.
If you're booking a lifestyle/brand photoshoot:
Have a plan of the types of shots and settings you would like to achieve from the shoot. Common types are people working at a pc/their desk. Colleagues 'chilling' in the kitchen/communal area. Company/team meeting. Training session. Basically, images that show your business at work.
Do you need models or will you be using your own staff? My recommendation is always to use your own staff wherever possible. Brand photography, after all, is inviting your prospects and clients into your world and showing them your companies values and character. If you do require models, how many? Do you have specific requirements for the model/s? Gender, height, size, hair colour, skin tone etc. This is crucial to your photographer to know before they can provide you with an accurate quotation as models will need to be secured.
What is your companies mission statement? Understanding this, the photographer will be able to help with creative ideas.
How do you want your company to be seen? Ie, formal and serious (best suited for those in wealth management, solicitor type roles) and more casual and relaxed (think yoga teachers, personal trainers)
What is the goal of the project? Are you looking to promote your company brand, or sell a product or service? This will help focus the shots and sets.
If you're booking a product photoshoot:
Do you require e-Commerce, lifestyle or a combination of both images? e-Commerce images are the ones you will typically find on eBay and Amazon (other e-Commerce platforms and websites are available!). The product against a solid colour background. In most instances this will be a white background however will depend on the product colour being photographed. Lifestyle images are when the product is being 'used in a lifestyle setting'. For example, a soft drink being drunk. A headset being worn. A tent pitched in a glorious woodland setting etc. Whilst e-Commerce type shots are best suited for eBay, Amazon, Etsy etc, on other platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, lifestyle images tend to get more engagement. Therefore, many businesses opt for a combination of e-Commerce and lifestyle images.
Do you/the photographer have to secure models or will you use your staff if you are opting for lifestyle type images?
Who is your target audience? Do you know your ideal client? The more information you can supply your chosen photographer, the more they will be able to assist with creative ideas and direction.
Intended format of images. Do you primarily post to Instagram and e-Commerce sites? It's likey that you will then want square (1:1) images. Advise your photographer of the format in which you want the images delivered in. A photographer will always, by default attempt to use the entire frame to compose their image. It's a very different composition requirement when you are losing 1/3 of the frame by shooting in square format.
How many products do you need to be photographed?
If you're booking a food photography photoshoot:
What food/recipes do you require being photographed? This will help the photographer to recommend and suggest backgrounds, props etc
Are you wanting studio, e-Commerce style photography or natural light, lifestyle type images? Natural light, slightly darker images are becoming more and more popular in the food photography industry.
Do you require standard angle or flat lay images? Or a combination of both?
How do you wish to use the images? For instance, in recipe books, in blog posts, in marketing and commercial campaigns.
Do you need the photographer to engage with a food stylist? Not all food photographers are food stylists!
Top tips for commercial photography photoshoots.
As with portraiture photography, my recommendation is that you create a board on Pinterest and save several pins that inspire you or that you like the look of. Share this with your photographer who will then be able to discuss with you further his/her ideas and suggestions and agree the way forward with you.
A photography brief isn't about making your photographer's life easy. It is about helping them to ensure you are a delighted client, whether a private individual or a business. Every service-based business will require a certain level of information from a prospect before they are able to confidently give a quotation, it is no different for a photographer.
In addition, putting together a photography brief will give you/your business some focus thinking about what message you want to send via the messages. Remember, an image speaks louder than 1000 words!
Why work with me?
I'm passionate about what I do. Yes, EVERYONE and their cat says that. But how many are actually prepared to walk away from a lucrative career, a nice house and chase their goal.
I value each and every client I work with, whether you've engaged for a £50 portrait shoot or a £5000 commercial shoot. Your faith in me to deliver the images you require is a constant driving force to over-deliver to your expectations.
I am dead honest, if you approach me for a project I do not feel confident undertaking, I'm not going to 'wing it'. My new life and career is reliant on people putting their faith in me to deliver, I simply cannot AFFORD to disappoint.
And whilst commissioned by you, I become a member of your business in my mindset. What's important to you about your business is important to you and I will work with you to deliver those values in scroll stopping images!