08 Nov 10 Photographers tips for a successful branded portrait photo shoot
It takes different expertise to get it right
Last summer, I organized a branded Photo shoot for one of my clients, Vendo Services. I had developed all their Branding and was working on their website design. I suggested they get a professional photographer for their team’s picture which they wanted to publish on their website. (Discover how photography can elevate a Brand in my previous article)
A few months later, we sat back with the photographer I selected for the job, Sylvia Gutierrez, and thought of what was key for a good branded photo shoot. I chose her because I had already worked with her on other projects but especially because I knew her portrait work matched with the style I was looking for.
My role was to work on the Art Direction – find the right photographer, guide her and make sure the outcome would be on brief. But we had to be 2 to make it right and that’s why it’s important to collaborate with the best experts to deliver the best quality service to your clients.
Sylvia has shared with us what it takes to have a good outcome from her perspective as a photographer with over 10 years of experience in the field.
1. Art Direction
If you are working with an Art Director
-Make sure you have received a clear brief and understand what is expected from you.
To avoid surprises, ask as many questions to the Art Director before the session in order to prepare it as accurately as possible.
-Set a list of ideas to prepare the sessions. Share them with the Art Director to make sure they are aligned with the brief.
-If you feel you are not the right person for the project, or that it doesn’t fit your style, don’t hesitate to say no.
we had to be 2 to make it right
Indoors our outdoors, the location needs to be comfortable and adapted to the size of the group.
-Visit the shooting location beforehand.
-Visualise and project yourself in the situation.
-Avoid extreme temperatures. If too hot or cold outside, consider taking it indoors.
-Check lighting, identify the different shooting spots, and mark positions if possible.
-The shooting location needs to be comfortable for all. People waiting to be photographed need a place to sit, freshen up, change clothes and shake off any stress.
Time is gold. Manage it properly and make sure models don’t have to wait for you…it will only make them more nervous!
-Arrive at the shooting location with lots of time ahead of you.
-Manage your schedule. Break it down into types of shots/model to be photographed.
-Set an average amount of time for each model and check regularly you are on schedule.
-Set and display an order of passage for models to be prepared for their turn and to avoid making them wait.
Time is gold. Manage it properly and make sure models don’t have to wait for you
-Make sure you are there for the introduction of the session with the Art Director. Present yourself, give general guidance on what you will want models to do and act.
-If you have set an order of passage and schedule, communicate it clearly before the beginning of the session.
-Make the models feel comfortable, use your voice to reassure them, and convey empathy. Talk, chat, and laugh if you feel that this will make their experience more enjoyable.
-Communicate continuously with the Art Director to make sure you are aligned through out the session.
use your voice to reassure them, and convey empathy
If you are shooting a team of individuals and to avoid extra post production work:
-If you work with natural light make sure you photograph them on the same day and in the same place to have a consistent lighting, background and atmosphere.
-In case you do it with artificial lighting, keep a sketch of locations and measurements.
Make models feel as comfortable as possible.
-Put some music on.
-Make sure there are snacks and drinks for people to nibble on.
-Make sure people have a place to sit and talk while waiting.
-If you are nervous, try not to show it and make models feel reassured.
-Avoid displaying publicly any discussion or disagreement with the Art Director. This will only make the atmosphere more stressful.
If you are nervous, try not to show it and make models feel reassured
7. Outfit guidelines
If the clothing isn’t provided by the organization, make sure the models receive outfit guidelines at least a week before the shooting date
-Ask them to bring different outfits to change into.
-If it is hot, make sure they bring a small towel and makeup to freshen up.
-Light clothes are a good option if there is a risk of sweating.
-Clothes need to be clean and ironed.
-Models need to make sure their teeth and hair are clean.
These sessions are usually one shot and very difficult to organize. Don’t make models and the rest of the team wait.
-Back up all your equipment: Take a second camera, cables and above all, check memory cards.
-Everything needs to be fully charged and ready! Batteries, flashes, cables…
-Everything needs to be fully charged and ready! Batteries, flashes, cables...
9. Go for it 100%
Don’t be afraid to be creative and suggest shots that weren’t planned. They might be opportunities for an outstanding outcome.
10. Plan B
Prepare for the worse and play it safe. If the Art Director hasn’t thought of it, ask about the Plan B and prepare accordingly
I hope you thought these tips were useful.
If you need more, don’t hesitate to contact Sylvia for her point of view as a Photographer.
For Art Direction tips, stay tuned, I will be posting a new article next week.
Vendo’s Brand is probably one of the most complete project I have worked on so far. After having defined the Brand fundamentals and then designed their visual identity (See the whole project here), I worked on the design of their website.
During the first discovery phase of the project, they told me that they had run research and had identified that their customer service was one of their main strengths. They have been recognized and praised for having a very close caring, and personalized relationship with customers and that’s what made them different from any other payment processing service.
If we mainly used free imagery which we customized with a colour layer, at the moment of designing their Company page, it was obvious it needed to include authentic photography of their team. This is when I suggested a branded photo shoot with professional photographer Sylvia Gutierrez.
Free images customized with colour filters and branded pattern
Branded photos for team portraits
This is when I suggested a branded photo shoot with professional photographer Sylvia Gutierrez.
Let’s work on making your idea visible.
I like to divide my branding process into 3 distinctive steps. It allows us to be aligned and communicate during the whole time and therefore to be more efficient.
Defining your Brand fundamentals.
The first step to good branding is for me to understand why we are here, what you value, what the brand wants to transmit and what makes it different. We will go through the brand fundamentals during a collaborative workshop. You’ll be surprised how these exercises can be revealing.
Creating your Visual identity.
Thanks to the discovery work, I will be able to work on visual proposals which will include the main visual elements of the Brand Identity (Logo, typography, colours, patterns, photography, iconography).
Each proposal will be illustrated with its application to a limited number of materials depending on your business. For example: a web site home page, business cards or social media feed.
Producing all deliverables.
Once the Design is approved and agreed on, I will work on producing all the elements of the brand identity to deliver them in the formats and files which best match your needs.