Getting ready for your product photoshoot Part 2
What to bring on the day:
- A LIST
When planning an upcoming product photography session, I recommend clients write up a list of images they require. I find that once clients sit down and plan their photoshoot, and bring along that brief, there is less chance we may forget to do a particular image. The list will also give us a measure of how long a shoot will take. If over the phone we booked a 2 hour shoot but the list brought to the studio is extensive, then it will be clear to everyone that the shoot will indeed take longer than previously discussed.
In this brief, clients will list things like angles; back / front / side of each product that they need and we can tick these off as we shoot them. This brief is particularly important when clients are not present and I need to make sure I produce all the images they require. A brief can also have a list of different groups of products that need to be shot, perhaps an order in which they need to be photographed, maybe product names that need to be attached to image files and any creative ideas we could try during the shoot.
Prior to the shoot, I also like to get clients to share some examples of the type of images they would like to achieve. A selection of images helps give me a sense of the style and look of photography they are drawn to. We can then discuss the options of how to achieve a particular look for their product.
In my studio I store lighting, computer gear and universally used props such as white, black, dark grey backdrops. I also have a selection of neutral props like stones, wood, kitchen props etc. Over the years it has been my experience that most clients prefer to bring their own specific props to a photoshoot. After all, it is a way for their images to look unique and their product to stand out from their competitors.
Clients may also like to bring along to the photoshoot a model, or talent. Talent may be just someone they know who has never done a photoshoot before or someone whom they have hired from an agency (metroagency.com.au). For high-end fashion shoots I advise clients to hire professional talent as they are experienced in posing and know the hard work required of them in a studio. To get the most out of a photoshoot with a model, a good hair and make-up artist experienced in photography work is invaluable.
Models often have artists they work with well and will recommend them for the job. I can provide a list of some agencies I work with but in most instances, clients will bring along someone they know. To save on costs, I recommend clients meet up with their talent and artists before the shoot and come to studio only after they have created the first look for the shoot. Hair and make-up artist may stay to create other looks for the shoot or may leave us with some product and instructions. All of this is up to my clients and their budget.
Lastly and of course the most important things to bring to the studio are the products themselves. As products may range from bed sheets and silver rings to fresh produce and wine bottles, how they are packed for transport if very important. Apart from being safe so they do not break or scratch during the transportation, it is a good idea to plan and bring along spares as well as think about how products will look once they are out of packaging. For example, bringing along a rucksack already stuffed so it looks plump with all the tags removed is a good way to save time and therefore costs in the studio. Same with bringing polished and already cleaned jewellery pieces. Ironing clothes or sheets before coming to the studio and have them ready on hangers or folded just right is another example where a lot of time can be saved and therefore focused just on photography.
In the studio
In most instances I shoot together with clients in studio. All the images are shown on a computer screen as I shoot them. We set up, light, shoot then adjust. This means I work collaboratively with clients to get the images they like. If a client is interstate, then I will utilise their brief and instructions from our conversations. I will call clients during the shoot to confirm things and email or text them pictures to check they are happy with how the shoot is progressing.
When clients arrive to the studio with all their products we usually lay them all out and work out how each will be photographed. For example, when shooting jewellery, often all the pendants will be shot hanging and all the rings may be shot flat on the tabletop. In such instances we will group products according to the way they will be shot. Each time a lighting set up has to be changed extends the time of the photoshoot so it reduces the cost when the products and photography sequence are well organised.
Another item to think about when we start shooting is how the images will be cropped. If they the images will be used for Instagram then we will need to think about a square crop and if they are for the website banner, then we will need to shoot wide and long. Once a set up with lighting and styling everyone likes is achieved, it is good to stop and get all these crops shot one after the other.
Digital work afterwards
All final images (the ones the clients like the best) are marked during the shoot before clients leave. As this is done I make notes on the type of digital work required for each image. Digital work can be time consuming, epically when product in an image has to be ‘cut away’ from the background in order to achieve that sleek pure white look. Otherwise basic digital post production, which includes colour correction, contrast, sharpening, automatic cropping does not take too long.
Image files are given to clients either finalised with layers for specific use by their graphic designers or with only basic processing work done as they prefer their graphic designers to do all the digital work on the images themselves. When I shoot for clients who want finalised images, I provide these to them usually in 3 different sizes; small for web images, larger for web images and large for print images. The clients who want their graphic designers to do all the digital work receive large tiff files.
After post production processing and any extra digital work is finished, I will send the invoice to clients via email. Once the invoice is paid and a receipt of the invoice is received, I most often send the images to clients via a WeTransfer downloadable link through their email. If there are too many large files, the client can bring an external drive to save all the images to.
Product photography is definitely my passion. I love helping my clients create amazing images for their businesses. I get a buzz every time seeing the images we have created go up on my client’s websites, social media posts or Amazon listings.