** I was recently asked to write an entry for an advertising agency I’ve recently had the pleasure of working with (ECU Communications) – I thought I would share! 🙂

* The Zombie promo above is something fun we shot for an upcoming film out here in Washington DC. Here’s more info on that: http://indiegogo.com/projects/z-con-a-film-about-what-happens-when-zombies-infect-a-comic-con

5 Tips for a Successful Photo Shoot!
1) Problem Solvers… an opportunity.
In writing this piece, I find myself reflecting on a 3-day shoot we had in Santa Rosa, California for a rather large client whose headquarters is stationed just outside of Washington DC.
The shoot was scheduled in the cold, gray month of January as the campaign had to be prepped and ready for the following spring/summer release. Because this clients marketing catered to “outdoor living”… the east coast weather obviously wasn’t ideal.
The client proceeded to send us to the west coast to shoot on-location.  Ah…. a trip to warm, sunny California  during the brisk winter months of Washington DC…seemed perfect right? Almost, but not quite.
We arrived on-set and it was a torrential downpour for 2.5 of the 3-day outdoor shoot.
Keep in mind, this client spent $150K just for the set to be built and constructed.
Even worse, the Creative Director had food poisoning after the first day, rendering him bedridden for one full day of scheduled shooting.
We could have wrapped the shoot and simply said “too bad”, “tough break” etc… but we didn’t.
We had a construction crew build a massive “tent” to shield this pricey set design, adjusted our lighting set-ups to reflect that of a warm sunset,  with careful framing and positioning and constant dry moping…we were able to come away as “hero’s” for the shoot and therefore a successful campaign resulted. No investment on part of the client was lost and the deliverables looked amazing!
Why do I share this…?
Schedule variations, unforeseen circumstances and the like are bound to happen…embracing this understanding ahead of time will only set you up for success.Therefore, beyond effective pre-production- make sure you have more then a “plan b” in place.
This helps with ebb and flow when things happen that are out of your hands. As a commercial photographer/director, adopting this principle has allowed for success in the some of the most “impossible” situations. Working with a team that is problem-solving oriented is worth the investment.

2) Pre-Production/Planning…save yourself from sleepless nights.

In short- better pre-production yields better results. Clarity of mind, trust and confidence are achieved in the photographer/agency relationship as well as the the agency/client relationship.
In turn, this brings value to your firm and your client benefits.
When any opportunity for misunderstanding or miscommunication can be resolved before the production has started, the whole project benefits as result.
Keep in mind that we are essentially creating something that does not yet exist. Understanding one-another, healthy communication and clarity is paramount to  developing a successful campaign.

3) It Takes a Village… its easier this way.-

In the beginning, I did everything myself… from casting to scouting, wardrobe, to locking down permits to scheduling food catering etc… just to mention a few. I consider this to be my “learning curve” years.
I believe that it is imperative for an agency & photographer team to be well versed in all the variables that it takes have a successful shoot.
Adopting a team-work ethic will help balance and delegate all the tasks. In many circumstances, I have found that this can help with budget costs as well.
It’s great when an agency & photographer both hold this mentality because those shoots are always a lot of fun.  For myself, I have an always, ever-growing team that helps to bring sanity to my life. Particularly, I’ve intentionally allowed it to happen organically and over time. This has allowed me to pay attention to what people are really good at and have them take on the tasks that are the best fit. This makes for a really enjoyable working environment.
Come shoot day- this in imperative to yielding the best results out of your talent, team and deliverables.

4) Why I love having the Creative Director on-set…Guess less.-

Why? In short, it takes the guessing game away.
Whenever I’m on a shoot we typically shoot tethered to 3 different monitors (or viewing stations) which allows for instantaneous review.
Typically, we’ll have the camera tethered directly to a laptop (working station)  which then simultaneously transmits the image to the “Client Monitor” as well as an iPad.
As a photographer, this is great because I get to see the image come up on a large screen therefore  allowing my team and I better visibility to observe  any imperfections and therefore adjust as needed.
My 1st assistant will then walk around with the iPad adjusting lights and set-decorations according to what is relayed or what he/she observes. Since the photographs come up as quick as I pull the shutter on the camera,  efficiency and speed become the standard workflow.
Finally, I provide the client/agency with a monitor specifically set for them to review the shots live.  This is great because it opens the doors for the agency rep. or creative director to either kick back- with a drink in-hand and observe or get engaged in the process of building the key shot/ art.

5)  Production Value… why give your client a Honda when you can give them a Lamborghini?
When your client sees their marketing material having the same photo as their competitors- the value of your brand as an agency goes down.
We are professional creatives… do we really want to recycle the same content over and over again? I would think the answer is obvious.
Sure, stock photos have a purpose, but do they really enhance your brand or create a sublime statement about your client?
My initial intrigue with advertising and marketing birthed out of the awe and excitement I had when watching great “mini movies” we commonly refer to as TV commercials. Consider those pieces of visual “eye-candy” often found in-between the pages of a magazine or those massive billboards… if they are done well, they intrigue, engage and they call the potential customer to react and invest in your client.
How often do we find ourselves simply skimming over the ads in a magazine or outright ignoring those billboards? Its easy to do. I believe that the freedom of the professional creative is found in creating…not recycling.
 Ask yourself a simple question… do you as an agency want to offer your client a Honda as a deliverable (It get’s the job done) or deliver the equivalent of a Lamborghini?
How much more does your brand, office morale  and production value benefit when you consider this? Obviously I am partially biased as advertising/commercial photography is what I base my business on, but as a professional creative working with many agencies-big and small, the common thread that we all have is to fulfill what we all crave as creatives… to create.


No comments so far.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Website Field Is Optional