Tag Archives for " planning ahead "
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.