Here are a few suggestions on what to expect and what you might do to get the very best from your next photographic shoot. I'll try explaining what goes on before, during and after your photographic shoot of your product. It is relevant for all still life subjects such as food, bottled spirits, wines, beers and soft drinks, packaging, medical devices, jewellery, electronic equipment, smart phones… most items for still life photography.
To start, it is a good idea for you to know how you want to portray your product. The clearer the image/brief in your mind the easier it is to execute that vision. You can discuss this with your photographer and your design and marketing team. You might also look at your leading competitors imagery or go to the best magazines and web sites in your industry and see what is current and fashionable. This will also help you to decide what you do not want.
The ‘Brief’ is an explanation of your idea in words and with visual references you have gathered from your research. It will dictate how the final image will look. The brief can be put together with the help of the photographer and designer too and should cover the following areas
- Where will the image be used - web site, social media, print for billboard or magazine or brochure...
This can dictate how the image will be photographed from a technical stand point.
The look of the final image.
- Style of packaging/web site/brochure/ad the image will be used on
- Is the style traditional or modern
- Will it be earthy and organic or slick and stylised.
- Will it be bright and airy or dark and moody.
- What sort of props and background do you want to use.
- Cutlery, plates, wooden surfaces or linen table clothes, reflective or matt surfaces.
- Colours used in shot.
Location of Shoot.
- Will the shoot be at the photographer's studio.
- Will the shoot be at an appropriate location - a castle or elegant house, a farm yard, a landscape etc…
- Can we shoot in the client’s production area or warehouse
- Are there facilities to cater for the shoot, in the studio or on location, such as ovens, cookers, freezers, electricity, bathrooms, water and so on.
All these factors can be discussed with your photographer in advance of the shoot. This allows all aspects of the shoot to be organised in advance before the meter starts to run.
You, your designer, if you are working with one, and photographer should discuss the look and style of the final image you require. The photographer should be able to help you move in the direction you choose and again when this is discussed before the shoot it really helps with efficiency during the shoot.
I would recommend using a graphic designer at this early stage. They can prepare rough versions of the final designed piece whether it is new packaging, a web site, an ad or brochure. Indeed you can use a nearly finished look mock up at this stage that you can use to discuss with your colleagues and peers.
Having a mock up before the shoot helps everyone visualise the final result with the photograph. The photographer optimises the photograph in the space on the artwork. If the image is square, rectangular or round the important elements in the photograph will be in the prime position on the pack, web site, ad or brochure. The photographer also ensures no logos or type are blocking important parts of the image.
If your product is food - a very important person to have involved at an early stage is the Food Stylist. This is the person who will cook and prepare the food for photography, not for eating. They can bring a vast knowledge to the early stages of any shoot with ideas to help present your product at its best. Apart from preparing recipes and food suggestions they will bring the black art and skill of making sure the ice cream won’t melt, the sausage skin remains intact, the steam rises out of the hot soup and the melted cheese on the pizza looked perfect.
This is your area of expertise. Whether you are producing food or computer components you need to get perfect examples of your product in front of the camera.
So if you are supplying food for the shoot send as many samples as possible. If you are dealing with frozen foods send twice that amount - you can never tell how they will look when they defrost. If your food product is made of different components such as pizza, send extra pizza bases, tomato sauce, salami, cheese etc. as this will help the Food Stylist get the best from the ingredients.
If not yourself, have a competent colleague select the items for delivery to the photographic studio or location. Have the items delivered a day or two prior to the shoot. This way it can be checked and confirmed that everything has arrived safely. You don’t want to discover this on the day of the shoot.
Ideally you or a decision making colleague should attend the shoot. You know your product and how it should look. And you know what you want at the end of the process.
The product will be set up on the surface and background - this could be pure white or an atmospheric rustic set. The photographer will do preliminary shots of the lighting set up and then when the photographer is happy the client will be invited to comment.
This is the time for you to speak. Everything can be changed at this stage. Your opinion is valued. You will not be hurting anyones’ feelings. So speak out even of you feel it is a minor issue. Remember you will be using the photograph for the next couple of years and you need to be fully satisfied with its look.
When the shoot is completed the photographer will need to convert the images into files that you can use, normally jpegs.(See my blog Jpeg vs Tiff and other file formats). Minor retouching is normally included in the quoted cost but more complex retouching will need to be discussed regarding the final costs. In my studio there is a turnaround time including shooting day of 3 days unless some complex retouching is requested.
If you are using people in your shots you should have each person sign a model release form stating how the images are going to be used and what specific agreement has been agreed with them. This should be fair for both you and the model and will save you and your models from any misunderstandings that might develop in the future.
Here is a list of the likely costs that you may need to deal with. Only some of these items will be relevant to specific types of photographic shoots
- Photographer’s fees
- Stylist Fees
- Food Stylist fees
- Model fees
- Propping costs and hire charges
- Computer Retouching charges
- Do you have all the usage rights you require?
- Potential location charges
- Overnight and travel charges
If you would like to discuss any aspect of photography just contact me at:
Eugene Langan Photography
Phone: 00.353.(0)87.2597907 e-mail: email@example.com
Studio Eight, 32 North Brunswick St., Dublin 7. D07 TWX3. Ireland.