An interview with BCN-based photographer Sam Zucker plus a brand photoshoot checklist download.
Let’s start out with one hard fact: image is EVERYTHING. Yes, that means your visual identity: logo, colors, typography; but, more specifically, we are talking about the photographs you use to tell your brand’s story. If you are a wellness professional or budding entrepreneur, you might think about the idea of doing a brand photoshoot and cringe:).
This post will identify not only the essentials you need to have a successful photoshoot for your brand but also common pitfalls to avoid. This is meant to be a guide for those who A.) Want to hire a photographer yet simply don’t have a clue where to start; B.) Have hired a photographer but don’t have the budget to hire an Art Director to handle their photoshoot; or C.) Have hired an Art Director or asked a friend to stand-in as one but want to have more confidence during the process.
Luckily, I have a professional photographer on stand-by, my husband Sam Zucker, who generously shared his opinion plus tips and tricks with us in a fireside Q&A session. And if you find this interview insightful, go ahead and DOWNLOAD OUR FREE HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR BRAND PHOTOSHOOT CHECKLIST. Let’s dig in:
What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone who is about to schedule a brand photoshoot?
What do you need to know before you can start snapping shots?
You mentioned a shot list, how does a client go about creating one for their photographer?
Any advice about choosing a photographer?
Any how about advice on choosing a location?
Any tips on outfits or wardrobe?
How do you use props in a shoot?
Any recommendations per hair and makeup?
Speaking of Help, how many “helpers” should a client bring along?
What are some pro tips on how to relax in front of the lens?
When lighting/editing for a shoot, does it help to know the brand’s colors/visuals?
BE YOURSELF. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people show up to have photos taken and are attempting a “new look” that they wouldn’t wear normally. Don’t wear all new clothes or a totally new hair style or excessive make-up, just be YOU. Bring several options for clothes and have photo examples on-hand as a frame of reference. Besides being yourself, being inspired and excited to do the shoot makes a huge difference in how the shoot goes and how the final images turn out.
It depends. A mood board is always a good idea if you want the photographer to understand the overall tone and style you have in mind. A shot list is key if there are very specific photos you need: i.e. a photo of me using a certain tool, a headshot for my about page, several photos for my services page, etc. Knowing where we are shooting a few days ahead of time is also crucial for my planning. (Outdoors, indoors…both?)
For me, the shot list is part of the photographer’s brief. The brief would tell me what the client expects from me: how many photos am I producing?; What is our goal?; What are the photos for and where will the client be using them (web, socials, printed materials)?
It can be very general, for example: I want a few close ups, a few wider angle shots, a full body shot, etc. Or depending on the client’s need, it could be very detailed, i.e. two photos where I am writing in a journal, three photos where I am jogging, one photo with a laptop at a standing desk.
Creating a shot list is a good exercise for the client to do even if they don’t necessarily stick to it the day of the shoot. Sometimes, things come up on a shoot and we get creative, or a new idea seems better…I think it’s good to be organized, but also trust your gut and trust your photographer!
Referrals are mostly how people find me, but there are tons of platforms online where photographers are listed for hire (Freelancer.com, Upwork, Fiverr, etc). If you don’t get a direct referral I would shop around and see who is in your budget, but also whose portfolio speaks to you. It’s my personal opinion that a good photographer can adapt his or her style to match the client’s vision; but a photographer’s eye, and the way he or she edits the photos will be unique and you should keep that in mind too. I also believe you really get what you pay for when it comes to professional photographers, just throwing that out there!
Creating a shot list will help you decide where to shoot and at what time. If an indoor location is ideal, visit the location first and take a few pictures of the area which might work for your photos (This will help your photographer know what kind of lighting might be necessary). If you also need an outdoor location, scout out your neighborhood, find a few places that might work (neutral-toned walls are always good!), save the map pins and share them with your photographer. He or she will then be able to tell you what time of day would work best depending on the sun’s positioning during that time of year. Bear in mind, some locations work great, and others turn out to be a bust. That’s why having a few will keep the shoot flowing. If something isn’t working, we can move onto the next locale.
Also important: If you are shooting in a business locale that is not your own, always ask if you need permission to set up lights or permission to shoot during business hours.
Wear clothes that you feel good in, and that feel like you. The more options the better. Think about having different colors for different backgrounds. Definitely bring several neutral tones, and colors that correspond to your branding. If necessary, come prepared with hangers and a steamer.
If your line of work has a defining tool or piece of equipment associated with it, it’s a good idea to have those items on hand and mention them in your shot list. For example, if you are a chiropractor you would want to be in your studio and capture moments with you interacting with tools and clients. Even if you don’t have specific tools assigned to your craft, unique props are a fun way to set your brand apart. You can brainstorm about it ahead of time and include them in your shot list.
Arrive ready and have someone with you keeping an eye on it. While I am focused on the expression and the lighting, it’s good to have someone who is keeping an eye on your shirt coming untucked or your forehead becoming shiny. Per makeup: Start with a more natural makeup look first; then go into full makeup if you want a more glamorous look. The same goes with hair.
If you don’t have the budget to hire an art director or assistant, recruiting two friends to help is ideal. One person to keep an eye on props, hair, makeup, the shot list… and another person to help the photographer, hold reflectors, be the go-between. Also, if you want images with clients or group interactions make sure your friends are onboard to have their pictures taken with you, or hire professional models. Another huge benefit of having a friend with you is it helps to keep things light. Someone to look at (besides the lens) can really help the subject relax and have fun with it.
That’s the golden question! That’s the photographer’s job. A good photographer will look at the subject and see what’s working for them and will help them figure out how to move their body, or articulate their expressions. One thing you could do to get yourself “ready” is to watch some videos on Youtube on HOW TO POSE for the camera. Then, expect your photographer to get you to the finish line during your shoot.
It’s helpful to have a brand guidelines book ahead of time and most importantly examples of photos that match the brand’s aesthetic. If you want brand colors in the shoot it needs to be planned ahead of time. Using props as pops of brand color works great. Or, for example, find a wall that is close to your brand color of choice and in the editing phase I can shift it to match. If it’s a completely different hue, the outcome will not be nearly as good.
If you found that interview insightful, go ahead and DOWNLOAD OUR FREE HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR BRAND PHOTOSHOOT CHECKLIST, which breaks down Sam Zucker’s advice into a neat and tidy little list.
From an Art Director’s standpoint, I have one major last piece of advice that Sam mentioned as well: Think about WHERE you will be using these images. Whether it’s social media, your website, or a printed brochure, you want these photographs to tell an accurate and attractive story about your brand…not just for tomorrow, but for the next one to two years to come.
At GKW, we are happy to send in a Creative Director for your shoot, or recommend a Photographer if you are based in the Barcelona area.