In a world that’s packed with stock photography, it’s more important than ever to use original imagery that stands out, celebrates your brand and communicates your message.

With that in mind, it’s crucial to be able to plan a photo shoot that runs smoothly and produces a range of shots that show your brand at its best.

We’ve all seen a reduction of copy in social media, as brands tell their stories through pictures and not just words, so it’s important that you get great shots to tell a really great story about you, your business and your brand. After all, a good image is worth a thousand words.

While planning the perfect shoot is, ultimately, a matter of following process, a little experience can help you problem-shoot and make the most of your time on set. So, whether you’re launching one product or banking a long campaign’s worth of photos, this cheat sheet will help you get the most bang from your snaps.

Future-proof your photos

photo shoot Greece

Consider the future of your brand. For example, let’s say you’re asked to take one shot for a landscape advert then, later in the year, that asset is required for digital use? Those uncomfortable crops needed for modern web banners – like skyscrapers and leader boards – are often overlooked when planning a campaign. So stay ahead of the game, and remember to take a few wide shots while you’re on set to give yourself plenty of choice later.

It’s worth experimenting with close-up shots, too; don’t be afraid to change the lens and go for detail. While these shots may not be part of your original brief, most designers will praise your insight when you give them more material to work with. Most of the money spent on a shoot goes on set design and the photographer’s time, so get as much out of the day as you can.

Get to know your shoot

Pre-production meetings (also known as a pre-prod or even PPM, by the particularly cool cats) are vital to the success of a shoot. This is a chance for the art director, stylist, producer and photographer to voice what they need for the shoot to be a success. This is when you’ll get a sense of what to expect before the dramas of the big day.

Key things to note in a pre-prod:

  • Location of the shoot – make sure everyone knows where to be, and when
  • How and when the products to showcase will arrive on set
  • The agreed shot list
  • Description of models’ features
  • Insurance (from losing your files to wet weather cover)
  • Plus: anything specific that’s essential to your shoot in particular, that everyone involved needs to know. For example: ‘Feature no more than three camels in any shot.’

A carefully considered checklist, like the one above, will ensure that your producers can get everything prepped ahead of time. It’s common knowledge that photographers will wake in the early hours of the morning and start building the set before anyone has arrived, and other key people will turn up at different times through the day.

shoot prep

So, a pre-prod meeting ensures that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet from the get-go, despite staggered start times. These meetings are also a good excuse to meet the team and get to know the photographer. They’re generally lovely folk, but watch out for any moments of silence; they love to fill them with talk about glass, National Geographic and celebrities they’ve met. You’ve been warned.

If everyone is clear about the day ahead, you’re already halfway to a successful shoot. Nice one. Of course, a day’s shoot is always a dynamic one. People and props will come and go, last-minute light changes will happen, it’ll definitely rain at some point and that dog will keep wandering off-set… But these are things your team will have dealt with a thousand times, so there’s no need to panic. Go back to your pre-prod notes, re-assess and take another bite of those delicious croissants (photography studios always have good ones).