How to prep for a commercial photo shoot for your company.
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How to prep for a commercial photo shoot for your company.

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This is the first article in a series about commercial photography.

For a lot of companies there will come a time where you need photographs and/or video for business purposes. Whether it is your first shoot or your 100th, this article may help. This "How To" is not about the hiring process but before the hiring process.

One of the basic photos a lot of professionals will need is a headshot, or portrait.

Award winning Commercial photography

If all you need is a simple headshot/portrait, you can go to any portrait photographer and get something that will be, at a bare minimum, "serviceable". Serviceable means it may or may not not be a well executed image, but it will be much better than a selfie.

If however, you need something other than just a portrait, then there is some work you should do before looking for creative photographers.

There are two basic types of photographers, creative and non-creative. And yes there will be some gray area as a photographer moves from one to the other through growth.

A creative photographer is a problem solver. They look for problems, then either avoid or fix the problems and take the photo in a creatively pleasing way. They also tend to see things differently which helps them produce interesting photos of your products, facilities or people. These are image makers, not image takers.

The world is full of non-creative photographers. To me they are mechanical in their process and do not always see or look for problems, they record whatever is in front of them in whatever light happens to be present. There is nothing wrong with photographers at this level. They are usually inexpensive and have a limited skill set. Almost every great photographer started at this level. (I did).

Put another way, these are image takers, not image creators. The visual differences can be massive in the final results between these two types of photographers.

The steps for you to take before contacting a professional photographer
Keep in mind that you are trying to tell your story.

1 - Identify what you need image wise. This can be wide sweeping or it can be a narrow focus.

Example: Photo of the factory or: Photo of the #3 die press showing worker removing stamped part.

2 - Identify what is important to show.

Example: Show worker with foot press or: Photo showing worker inserting stud into garment then using the foot press to fasten onto garment.

These steps are important because most people, much less photographers, may not know what is important in your process. Obviously if any process is proprietary you may wish to be sure this is not photographed.

Award winning Commercial photography

3 - Determine the approximate number of shots you will need. This is not how many photos the photographer takes, but how many finished images from the hundreds or thousands of individual photographs the photographer actually shoots for you. Some will call these a "scene" or a "setup" or a "look". (The term "Look" is very common in fashion photography.)

4 - Determine how you want to use the images, how big they will be used, where they will be used and for how long they will be used.

Example #1 - On our website, 1 photo will be used on the home page and will be used full screen, all the rest will be on sub-home pages. Also 2 or 3 will be used in B2B ads in USA publications only, both in editorials and ads. 1 will be used on one bill board in town. All for 1 year.

Example #2 - On our website, 3 photos will be used on the home page and will be used half screen, all the rest will be on sub-home pages as half screen or full screen. Also 2 or 3 will be used in 4 national B2C ads in USA publications only, in full page ads for 2 years. 1 will be used on 500 bill boards in the USA only, for 2 years only.

Example #3 – Unlimited usage worldwide for 1 year.

By thinking how you really want to use the photos it will help you focus your needs and also save you money. Your better photographers will charge you a "Creative Fee" plus a "Usage" fee. These 2 fees may be lumped into one line item depending on the job and/or the photographer's business model.

What is a Creative Fee? This is the photographer taking photos for you but you will have either very limited use or no usage. In taking the photos it is up to the photographer to determine where to camera needs to be, what lens to use, what light to use, what settings to use and when to push the button to take an image. All of this is part of the creative process.

Award winning Commercial photography

What is a Usage Fee? This is the photographer charging you for the use of the imagery they create for you.

Once you have your shot list, sizes and usage you are now ready to start looking for the right photographer for your project, which will be covered in the next article I'll be posting next week.

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