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Marketing Monday March 2016: How to Prepare for a Successful Firm Photo Shoot

     -     Mar 6th, 2016   -     Creative Design, Web Design   -     0 Comments

cameraGetting professional photos of your firm’s staff is often required to help your efforts as a marketer, and while photo shoots can be exciting and fun, but they can also be confusing and overwhelming. Throughout my career as a creative director, I have art directed many photo shoots in addition to collaborating with a handful of talented photographers, and funny enough, the same set of questions continually arises from clients. Questions such as:

  • “What should our staff wear?”
  • “What wardrobe colors are good?”
  • “How many positions should we shoot?”
  • “Should we create layouts?”

Below are a few tips that will answer the above questions, as well as help make your photo shoot run smoothly and seamlessly:

Prepare for the shoot

In order for a photo shoot to go off without a hitch and as seamlessly as possible, it is imperative that you are as prepared as possible. Important preparation tips include the following:

  • Schedule: Create a timeline. Make sure you allocate ample time for the photographer to set-up lighting, any needed backdrops and test shots. Include travel time for parking and loading/unloading of gear. And don’t forget a break for lunch. Reserve conference rooms or the exact spaces necessary for each shoot location.
  • Tidy Up and Beautify: Have the office or any areas that will be photographed professionally cleaned for the shoot, including the windows if necessary. Order flowers for reception areas. If photographing staff in their offices, gently remind them to remove the clutter. Less is always more with photos.
  • Remind: Keep everyone in the loop including the photographer, facilities/maintenance/security staff and subjects for portraiture. Make sure you get written confirmation from everyone involved and always send a final reminder again the day before the shoot letting each person know exactly when and where they need to be. Tell people what to wear (see “Wardrobe” below). Also include your cell phone number so people can contact you if they have a day-of-shoot question or issue.
  • Create Layouts: I can’t stress this one enough. Always show the photographer a layout or mock-up of how you plan to use the photo. For example, if the shots will be used on your website, send a link to the photographer so he/she can see the layout. That way, if the shots need to be horizontal, the photographer will not waste time taking a bunch of vertical shots. While your layouts may show unique crops of subjects, it is also important to stress to the photographer not to crop into any of the subjects in case your layout changes. Remember, you can always zoom into a good hi-res photograph, but you cannot zoom out if there is nothing to zoom out to.
  • Get Permission: Assuming your photos include people, it is always wise to get their permission, in writing, to use the photos for your firm’s marketing. This can be done through a basic “photo release form” which you can easily find online. Just be sure to print the form and have staff sign them in advance of your shoot.

Help make portraits look great

Photos of people can be especially tricky. Most of us do not like having our photo taken and get nervous in front of the camera. A good portrait photographer will make subjects feel at ease, guide them through body positioning and facial expressions, and hopefully make the experience a fun one. Prior to the shoot, you should prepare subjects so they know what to expect and how to be ready. It is a good idea to send an email a week before and again the day before the shoot with the subject line “How to Prepare for Your Portrait.” Include information such as:

  • Wardrobe: Should people wear business suits or more casual attire? Will shoes be in the shot? Make these decisions in advance and let people know so they can dress appropriately.
  • Colors: Solid colors are usually best. Bold patterns such as plaid, stripes and houndstooth can be distracting. I usually recommend neutral colors (black, gray, brown, tan, navy, blue, white, cream) so people do not wear clothes that clash with your brand. If your corporate color is red, for example, tell them not to wear magenta, purple, or green, but to consider wearing red as an accent color.
  • Seasonless: Avoid sleeveless tops or woolen jackets and sweaters. Clothes should not look specific to any season so the photo looks appropriate year-round and has staying power.
  • Accessories: Jewelry and accessory items should be kept to a minimum. The emphasis should be on the face, not on a chunky necklace or large earrings. Nothing dates a photo faster than a trendy accessory.
  • No wrinkles: Make sure clothing is freshly pressed. Tell subjects to bring their shoot clothes on hangers along with a few options if they are not sure what color will look best.
  • Styling items: Men should bring a brush or comb and a razor to touch-up just prior to the shoot to avoid “five o’clock shadow.” Ladies should bring makeup, hairbrush and hairspray. A toothbrush and toothpaste is also recommended for nice fresh smiles.

The importance of proper lighting

More than anything, lighting can make or break a photo. Your photographer should be responsible for lighting your shot but may need some help and guidance from you. What I mean by this is, for portraits, are you after a soft, even light, or dramatic, directional lighting? Provide a sample of the look you desire because it makes a difference in equipment needed. Also, if you are shooting outside or including building architecture shots, make sure to plan for the best time of day to shoot each subject and/or building. A building will look very different depending on the sun’s direction so scope it out or have someone local take quick photos morning, noon and late afternoon so you and the photographer can plan accordingly. A potential rain date is also suggested since weather cannot be controlled.

By following these steps, your photo shoot is guaranteed to be successful and can also be a fun and rewarding experience for you and all involved.

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