September 1, 2012

Photo Shoot Checklist

People love these lists posts so I thought I’d throw another one out there. This applies to almost any kind of photo shoot – add on as you see fit – but here are seven things I want to make sure are in order at any photo shoot. (P.S. – the image here is to make sure you take this seriously – this is war folks and we need to win!)

1. Go over the gear – check it twice – have at least one backup and check it twice – pack it carefully – then check it again. Once you leave home/office/studio it’s too late so as carpenters say – “Measure twice – cut once.”

2. Communicate – talk to everyone involved. Don’t assume everything. Make sure you verify locations and directions and call times at least twice with each person involved. Then have your assistant do the same thing. Lack of communication is the single biggest reason for failure on any bad photo shoot. Talk people.

3. Take care of yourself and others – When you’re on a long shoot – all day – all week etc., take extra time to be kind. Take time to speak to everyone involved in the shoot. Say their names. Ask if they are comfortable. Be ready to make them comfortable if they need something. Feed everyone – often and well. Have plenty of water. Look out for each other’s safety. Have emergency contact info on everyone and know the fastest route to the nearest medical facility just in case. Always have first aide on hand.

4. Concentrate – when you’re in charge of the photo shoot – the ultimate responsibility for its success or failure relies on you. There are no excuses. No matter who did or didn’t do what the buck stops with you so pay attention. Don’t be distracted. Concentrate. Work hard at focusing your mind. Shut out any unwanted distractions. Do your best to minimize chaos.

5. Be a craftsperson – photography is a wild mix of art and science but at the end of the day those of us who do this for a living have an obligation to perform. We are expected to work hard and be proficient. Clients pay for results. Studying and preparing and executing as a craftsperson is always on my photo shoot checklist. It’s the most important task of the shoot.

6. Manage expectations – one of the biggest problems in the industry right now is managing expectations. Everyone wants to be a rock star – nobody wants to be a roadie – so making sure that your staff and even your clients know what to expect is very important. If people have unrealistic expectations (and sadly today most people do) it should be on your list to keep those in check. That will help the shoot from getting out of control, it will help keep egos in check and will help make sure the client gets the desired product.

7. Relax and have fun – if you’re not having fun at your photo shoots something is wrong – something is missing – something needs to be reset. If you’re not having fun at your photo shoots then your staff and your clients aren’t either. The camera looks both ways. Make sure to take time to enjoy the ride. Then you can stress out later if you want.

I am better at some of these things than I am at others but generally – I try to look at this list every time I work. I know I am not perfect but I am trying to improve. I hope this list helps you improve too.


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