Planning A Photo Shoot For Your Indie Biz

I have always loved the planning stages of photo shoots. There is so much potential and opportunity! I am a bit of a research nerd, which does make me a useful asset to my clients when we are discussing how to shoot their collection of new products, because I will toddle away and brainstorm anything and everything I can which I feel is relevant to their brand!

For designers and makers who are still green, and who’s adventure into photo shoots for their products is looming on the horizon, the process can be a little daunting. Your business, your new collection, is your baby. You have so many balls in the air to think about, that maybe sometimes things like concisely planning a look book shoot can drift further down your list of priorities as a launch date comes closer.

So I have made this blog post to give you some pointers, and advice, when planning your Photo shoot. I particularly discuss production values, and the context of a fashion shoot, which is what I am most experienced with. You will find most of these pointers are applicable to other product-oriented shoots, so take on board that which is most useful to you right now!

Let’s do this!

1) Defining the Look and Theme.
A concise look and theme for your shoot will help keep you and your team on objective. It’s really important to keep your concept concise or unified. Can you describe it in one sentence? Will your customer ‘get it?’. Your shoot theme should be true to you and your brand.Look to your brand values to guide you.

Ask yourself some of the following questions;
What story are you trying to tell? Who are you marketing this product towards? What colour schemes/themes? What are your values? What do you want people to feel when they look at your collection?

An example is my Spring Summer look book with Double Trouble Gang. Double Trouble is a brand in love with powerful slogans and embroidered statements, providing plain jumpers and tees with personality. Their customers are youthful, vibrant, independent women gunning to achieve their goals in life and their careers.It’s motivational. It’s empowering.

Whip out a notepad, and mind-map, sketch, collage and moodboard your ideas! All your inspiration you picked up during developing your products comes in handy here!

2) Production.

Alright then. So you’ve figured out your shoot theme, and what you want to achieve, but how are you going to go about getting it all together?

I am going to run through some of the creatives/ members of a team you might find yourself needing to make your shoot happen.

Is styling something you feel confident with doing? If not, a stylist may be able to help you with that, OR you could speak to other independent designers and ask if you could hire their clothes for a shoot. 
Ask yourself: What does my ideal customer wear? How would my customer wear this? When are they most likely to wear my product?
Put together some moodboards or use Pinterest to get the ball rolling!

Make Up:
If you feel make-up is applicable and necessary for your shoot, you could do a casting call for a make-up artist, and get a quote for a day or half-day rate. A Make-up student might love to put their skills forward for a shoot, but be sure to offer them payment for their help and cover their material costs. Speaking from the perspective of Photography, I personally find a make-up artist makes a world of difference to the visual outcomes, particularly if you are looking for ‘natural’ make-up, and absolutely if you’re shooting under studio lights.

If you are a new business on the block, and your budget is tight, look to your friends and peers! Do you know anybody in your circle who really encompasses your target market, and  could they model for you? You can make it a fun experience, where your team get to see your new products before anyone else! Hey, why not even do a casting call to your customers on social media? The important thing is CONFIDENCE and CHARACTER.

If you are a seasoned brand, looking to elevate your production values on your next shoot, modelling agencies are the way forward. There you can find experienced faces who know how to move and work for the photographer. I can confidently say, as a photographer, it is an absolute dream to work with experienced models with distinctive personalities, as it really helps move the shoot forward.
Yes, modelling agencies do cost money, but you are paying for a service which will put your look book on another level, and you will have the opportunity to run castings before shoot day. It doesn’t hurt to ring up a few model agencies and find out pricing. Ask for the price differences for both New Faces and Main Board. Be sure to have a mood-board ready to send to a Booker after you have come off the phone.

Gigi @ Crumb. Styling/Direction: Marta Zaremba, MUA: Jess Rochard, Jewellery by Studio Adorn

Gigi & Kim @ Crumb. Styling/Direction: Marta Zaremba, MUA: Jess Rochard, Jewellery by Studio Adorn. Photography by Emily Jane Morgan

Kim @ Crumb. Styling/Direction: Marta Zaremba, MUA: Jess Rochard, Jewellery by Studio Adorn. Photography by Emily Jane Morgan

3) Location

Depending on the time of year, season, or if you live in the most beautiful place on earth (I wish), you need to decide where you would like to shoot. Indoor? Outdoor? Studio? Think about what makes most sense to your brand, and imagine where your customer might spend time outdoors! If not, sometimes less is more; a clean background, or a single room, you really have so many possibilities to work with to tell your collection’s story.

4) The Call Sheet

 A ‘Call Sheet’ is, simply put, the plan for the day. Its a typed document which supplies the names of all the team members (including theirs and your own contact details), the when and the where. A call sheet will add structure and routine to the shoot. Be realistic about how long some things may take to shoot than others. How long does a make- up artist need before you begin shooting? 

This is where you can also supply instructions for team members  (e.g ‘Model:please arrive without make-up and personal jewellery’). Don’t forget your lunch breaks either! Photo shoots are so much fun, but you can easily get swept away and forget to take a rest for 30 minutes.
Also state when you estimate to wrap the shoot by.

5) Make sure you have a check-list of your ‘money shots’, Discuss these outcomes with your photographer!

Because after all the hard work and prep you have put in for your shoot, you want to walk away knowing you got every image you needed to share your collection with the world!

I wish you all the best on your shoot plans. If you have any questions, you can drop me an enquiry any time!


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