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3 Basics of Planning a Photo Shoot

Here at Parthenon we have the opportunity to tell many powerful and compelling stories for our clients. We’ve used our experience to inspire and engage people through newsletters, magazines, websites, social media and more. These different formats all require their own visual elements — and we’ve seen firsthand how the right photos can really bring a story to life.

So how exactly do you get photos that are visually appealing while also capturing the unique voice of your client?

Completing a photo shoot is a creative and energizing endeavor, but it can also be a little unpredictable. Because photo shoots often occur during a short amount of time, and document a particular event, some advance planning is crucial to make sure you’re able to get the job done right. Three tips to help you get started:

Developing your vision

Excellent preparation in the early stages of the process can make things run as smoothly as possible. First, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who/what is the subject? Are you featuring a product, service or individual(s)?
  • Which style of image do you want to capture?
  • What emotions are you trying to evoke?
  • How will the photos be used: web, print, social media — or all three?
  • Does your location offer several different options for background scenery?

And remember: When you think you’ve created the perfect setup, something unexpected happens. That’s why it’s important to have a solid foundation in place! Even if you run into some glitches on the day of the shoot — bad weather, malfunctioning equipment — you’re ready to step in and find a solution.

Finding a photographer

Along with having great technical ability, your photographer needs excellent people skills and a keen eye for detail. You’re looking for someone who can collaborate well with your team and capture the mood and style of your subject.

When you need to hire a photographer, consider the following:

  • What style of photography do you need — landscape, portraiture, architectural, etc.?
  • Does your photographer have samples and testimonials available?
  • Is there a specific budget?
  • What’s your timeline for completion of the shoot?
  • Can you use photographers in your referral network, or those who have completed assignments for you in the past?

Once the photographer is selected, follow up often to ensure that everything is going according to schedule. On the day of the shoot, you’ll want to be available for any questions that may arise.

Acing the photo assignment

Last but not least: the photo assignment, which will thoroughly outline the expectations for the photo shoot so that you, the client, the photographer and everyone involved are on the same page.

There’s certain information that you should always include on your photo assignment:

  • Time, date, location and key contacts (art director, project manager, editor, et al.)
  • A detailed summary of the story
  • The intended audience of the publication
  • Number and list of required images (horizontal/vertical, indoor/outdoor, portraits and action shots)
  • Other aspects such as clothing, lighting options, recommended poses

Whenever possible, provide layouts or other visuals that can help the photographer get a better understanding of the assignment. Sharing past examples of a similar project or publication can offer some much-needed background — and will likely spark a few new ideas as well.

By following these recommendations, you’re well on your way to getting the photos you need, which will help you tell your story and build a stronger relationship with your client.

For some examples of how we use our visual expertise, check out our portfolio.