When you see photography in ads for major brands, do you think they were just off the cuff snapshots? Do you think a brand like Under Armour, Pepsi or Doritos is going to spend 100's of thousands of dollars on an advertising campaign, just to leave the photography up to chance? Or, when you consider how to plan for a commercial photoshoot, do you think it takes a ton of planning, props, people, styling and a great concept prior to even stepping into the photoshoot location? So, what makes marketing for your brand different from a mega brand like above? The answer should be NOTHING.
Marketing is the art of understanding everything about your targeted consumer: their habits, their likes and dislikes as well as what messaging works to get them excited enough to purchase your product or service. If you are involved in the marketing at a business and are just asking a photographer to “come out and snap some photos,” are these photos really contributing to your brand image and exciting your target market? What are you actually paying for? Would you be disappointed if you get back photos that aren't what you expected or aren't professional in quality?
Even if you feel like you only have a small budget, creating a concept for a photoshoot, planning the details with your photographer, scouting locations and coming up with a feeling and mood should be at the very least of what you are trying to accomplish. Because in the end, a commercial photoshoot is an art form in itself which takes planning.
Below is a list of things you should keep in mind when considering how to plan a commercial photo shoot.
1. Concept - Creating a concept that will help give everyone involved a general guideline for what you are trying to achieve is the first place you should start. It may or may not take long to come up with this. Invite others within your organization to a strategic brainstorming meeting to solicit feedback and browse websites and magazines for inspiration
2. Photographer - Find a photographer with COMMERCIAL photography experience! I've been a commercial photographer for about 16 years. Now, I also did wedding and portrait photography as well, but I understand the difference and have done both for so long that you trust me on this. Wedding and portrait photographers are good at just that, weddings and portraits. A successful commercial photo shoot requires expertise in planning, location scouting, visual story telling, and a clear understanding of how the images will be used within your marketing strategy. Don't trust this area of your marketing plan to a friend or co-worker with a camera who does some photography on the side. You won't grow your business with that type of photography and visual branding.
3. Models - If you need people in your photos, hire models! Models know how to move and create better angles in front of a camera. Hiring a professional model eliminates inexperience and shyness in front of the camera that often comes with working with “stand in” people. Your model should not be concerned on if they look good or not because they know the photographer will make them look the best for the photo necessary. This professional experience not only ensures your photos look good but save time in the photography process allowing your photographer to spend less time directing people and more time capturing images.
4. Details - Plan every detail. If you own a restaurant, do you want your food photographed and should it include napkins, fork, spoon and a drink or do you want a conceptual photo of your food? Do you own a company that makes a product and do you want to show it in use or is a simple studio photo more how you want your company to look? If it's in use, do you need a model? What is the story of the person who would be using your product? Where are they from, do they have a family, how tall are they, what do they like, etc...?
5. Stylist - Hire a stylist! The job of a stylist is an art in itself. These are creative people who see all of the details that other people may not see, but make a huge difference in making a good photo GREAT!
6. Take Your Time - Getting lighting, angles, styling, models, products and details all to come together for a photo that makes your business stand out takes time. Worry less about how much time it will take and how many photos you will get, and more about how great of a photo you can create. You’ll find that a handful of stand-out photos have more uses than dozens of mediocore ones. Not to mention those great photos will resognate deeper with your audiences creating a lasting impression of your brand.
7. Have FUN - Once all of the details are in place, remember to have fun during the shoot. It makes everyone relaxed which will lead to better photos.