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People love to peek behind the scenes and you’re the one who can give them access to your world. Let them peek behind the curtain so to speak and share how you make your images, your movies, your ______________ (fill in the blank with whatever it is that you make).
Part of that creation process is the equipment that we use and as you know, nothing is a stronger validation than a review of a piece of gear created by someone you trust, when you’re looking to acquire a piece of gear.
So whether it’s a review of the hard drives I use on location (ioSafe rocks) – or if it’s talking about the big, solar-powered battery I rely on when I’m shooting off the grid (GoalZero has some incredible products) or reviewing the little one to keep my cell phone topped off (Bushnell makes a cool one).
As an aside, once you’ve written or filmed a review or two and some recommendations, you can go to the equipment manufactures and ask them if they could use a customer testimonial video or guest blog post that’s a review of their products (trust me they love a well written or creatively shot review from one of their customers).
And if you do it often enough, they’ll come to you and ask you to create a review for them, like ioSafe did a few months ago.
You can make the review be a periscope live broadcast or write a blog post about the gear both are great tools to take your audience behind the scene. Remember that your ultimate goal is not only to share from your experience and help people find tools that they may have not known about before; but at the end of the day, you want to let your target audience know, that you are an expert when it comes to utilizing the correct gear for the job.
05:30 am It’s pitch black as I’m pulling into the beach on the day of our shoot. Today is the day when everything comes together. All the planning, scouting, casting and preparation are done. Talent, crew and client are coming together for the first time to create some great photos.
I huddle together with my assistants, as we go over today’s game plan – how we’re lighting this job; what their responsibilities are and what I expect from my crew. Make-up is there working on the first models hair and face, outfits have been decided on and we’re getting ready to get to the beach before sunrise.
06:15 am Everybody is on the beach. 16 minutes to sunrise. Chompin’ at the bit – still to dark.
06:31 am Sunrise. The athletes that are modeling for us do a couple practice runs. Exact spot is picked. Now it’s just waiting for the sun to climb a little bit higher. Tides on it’s way in, working against us – but the sky is crisp and perfect. Perfection happens when everything culminates.
06:42 am Ok, to be precise and according to the camera’s timestamp, 50 seconds after that, this happens:
Everything clicks (well of course the camera does), but so do all the other elements. The sun paints the sky, the tide is just right, the runner flies down the beach, product is facing the camera, in perfect stride and the client is thrilled. Perfection.
OK, so you see there’s a lot of details that need to be addressed and for an inspirational advertisement, the location is paramount. So how do you find that perfect location? You scout (or you hire a location scout). I prefer to find my locations myself. Remember, you need to think about more details than just the mere beauty of a place: When is the sun going to rise? Where is it going to rise? When is high tide? How far is the actual shooting location from the place you’re staging food, drink, products, outfits, ect? Will your crew be able to find you at 4:30 am in pitch black darkness? Got all those questions answered? Perfect!
It’s invaluable to actually be on the location personally to answer these questions and get a feel for all these variables. You can join me on the scout via the live periscope video that I recorded while I scouted this perfect beach (please excuse the audio quality on these mobile videos – it’s less than perfect, I’m working on making that part of my mobile video’s better).
As you can imagine there are about a million details that go into creating an advertising photograph. In the end, everything needs to work together to create the perfect image. Starting with the talent, the crew, the weather, the location, the gear, the logistics, and much more. The smallest issue can bring a carefully planned shoot to a grinding halt, but a thorough estimate and planning can help you get over that wrench that get’s thrown into the job on the second day at 4am (like it did on this one) – more about that on the third post in this series.
Working on the production of this ad begins about a month before the crew steps foot on the beach. It starts like many of my photo shoots do. My phone chimes out a notification: someone has filled out the contact form on my website: “We need new photos of our running armbands in action.” it reads “Ideally shot locally in Miami or vicinity. Our small business is located in Broward, and we would like to work with a local photographer. Can you contact us, and let us know if you are interested, and what you need to make a quote? Thank you.”
Of course I’m interested. And I’m local. So what next? I’ve had people ask me “How much do you charge for an advertising photo shoot?” You’ll see why that question is impossible to answer without some more information. First I need to know how many images we are going to be creating. That number is made up from the products that we’ll shoot. How many colors does that come in again? Are there multiple sizes? Although this is a technically is an assignment for a product photographer, in this case we’re going for that aspirational feel. After all the client is advertising how awesome their product is. How many days is the production going to take. All those questions go back to the client. A llittle while later I get an email back from with answers to those questions.
Then I need to get even more detailed: What’s the brands demographic that these advertising photos are going to target? Am I looking for fashion models, real people or athletes? What is the age of the target market? How many different looks are we going for? Where type of locations are we looking for? Do we need special photo gear? It goes on and on. Here’s where creating photo estimates for over 20 years comes in handy. I know where the hidden costs are. I’ve been using a template that ASMP (the American Society of Media Photographers) created, which protects me from forgetting production items in the estimate.
Finally you have to get an idea of the budget. Is the client planning to use friends and family for the photos? Or are we flying in known athletes? Probably somewhere in between. What about stylists and hair and make up? Do we need to rent an RV with a driver? Are we going to pick the perfect locations or are we limited to work on the cheap ones? All these questions can help you figure out where a clients head is. Some times they just don’t know what a real advertising photo shoot costs – especially small business that are just starting out – other times creative departments don’t want to give you a budget.
Long story short, after a few emails and phone calls, you should have information to know what you need to shoot, how much it’s gonna cost and how much of your time it’s gonna take.
All the RAW files captured get fine tuned in Capture One, in my opinion the best image processor out there. Color balance, contrast, brightness, perspective, ect. are adjusted. Then the architectural photography files are processed and are retouched, where small imperfections and outlets are cleaned up.
Then the images go through Photoshop where the individual layers are created and assembled into a master file. Each layer has detailed masks around the building parts, the vegetation, the sky, ect. which allows us to composite the image out of the separate exposures taken on location. In the image to the left you see a simplified view of some of the main layers: vegetation, garden and interior through the glass wall, outside walls lit by a strobe, house and sky. That’s how architectural photography is created today.
Then it’s a round trip back into Capture One, where perspective is adjusted, highlights and colors are tweaked and the final files are prepared to be delivered to the client. Metadata is added and the files are uploaded int my photoshelter account and delivered to the client via password protected web gallery.
My favorite part of the whole shoot, is an excited client, who loves the images taken of her design. This image has taken quite some time to build, from scouting to shooting to spending time in post production, but the transformation from the scouting shot is a far cry from the final shot, don’t you think?
Last week we looked at what goes into planning an architectural photo shoot – next week we’re going to dive into the post production workflow, but today it’s about actually photographing architecture. Looking for lines and light that you will record on the day of the shoot. Today we get down to brass tacks: we’re gonna catch the light in motion!
On the day of the shoot, I’m on location 3 hours before sunset. I’d rather wait than hurry. Since I already know where the camera will be set up for my shot, no time is wasted. In this specific instance, since we’re able to look through the house into the yard – the elevation of the camera is crucial as well – I need to see the water feature over the pool.
First of all you need a rock solid tripod, because we’re gonna layer a bunch of different photos together into one file (check out tomorrow’s post about the post production, that goes into photographing architecture.) Then I set up my computer, because I am shooting my camera tethered. My MacBookPro runs Capture One and since we’ll be out here for a few hours, is plugged into a GoalZero battery for some extra juice.
Why do I shoot tethered? It allows me to see more details during the shoot and I can trigger the camera via Capture One’s app called ‘capture pilot’ remotely, allowing me to stand in front of the house – away from the camera – to trigger a flash and avoid any vibration, since my exposure is often 8-15 seconds.
How do you protect your camera and tripod from moving even a fraction of an inch, when you set up in the middle of the street? You park your car, which also give you a nice desk to set up your computer work station in the middle of a (fortunately quiet, residential) street. Then it’s really just waitingto catch the perfect light. One exposure right after dusk for a beautiful dark blue rich sky. One more for the interior and exterior lights, another for my tungsten lighs in the yard behind the house and so on.
Recently I had the opportunity to create a series of architectural photographs of this beautiful building for an architect friend of mine. She’s created this stunning house on one of the islands on the beautiful venetian causeway that connects Miami with Miami Beach. Check out how this image is created from the initial scout, to the photo shoot and through post production in this series. Today we start with the planning part of the shoot.
“We need to show long lines” the architect tells me. She right, after all she’s designed this beauty and understands all the intricate details of the house better than anyone. Capturing her vision, that started on a drawing board, begins with a visit to the house. I insisted to meet her at the house were going to photograph, since I want to see what she’s passionate about. So the week before the shoot I meet with her at the house, with my iPhone (and a couple of cool apps) to get to know the house. Primarily it’s about her vision, but I also need to see where the sun will be, since we’re not just chasing long lines. We’re also here to catch the light.
You used to have to be part astronomer to be able to calculate the path of the sun, today there’s an app for that. I use an app