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Tuesday, September 12, 2017
By David Morris Photography
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Part 7: How long will this take? I need these photographs right away.



The answer to this question comes with a lot of variables. The short answer is, it depends on how specific and prepared you are with your photo request. It also depends on how complicated the attorneys or legal department has made it to work with creatives. Last but not least, it depends on the relationship you have with the photographer/vendor, if any.


Let’s first discuss the, (being specific and prepared) part of “How long will this take”. Whether you’re a small company looking to do a professional photo shoot for the first time, a large corporation, an Art Buyer/Producer or Art Director, the more specific you can be, the faster we can start shooting the job.


If you provide us with a specific shot list, shot descriptions, usage needed, look and feel mood boards, a ballpark budget, and deadline, we can get your project started pretty quickly. Maybe in a week or less depending how complicated the project is and the crew/photographer’s availability.


On the other hand, let me give you an example of what will slow the start of a project down. It’s not unusual that we’ll get an email or call asking for a cost of shooting “10 (some kind of) product shots” and 5 (some sort of lifestyle) shots. This doesn’t give us enough information to give you an estimate. What kind of product shots? Are they chrome teapots? These take a long time to light and retouch. Are there any group shots? These take more time to set up and light. Do you want props around the products? If so, who’s getting the props? What kind of surface do you want the product sitting on? Are we going to shoot the products at a low angle? If so, what kind of background do you want behind them? What kind of lighting do you want? Do you want any special effects? Is your product photo ready or will it need to be unpacked and assembled? Who is packing the product back up for shipping?

Do you want the products shot in the studio or location? If location, where is the location. Depending on the complexity of the shots and location, this may mean we need to rent a van to haul all the equipment needed. I may also require additional crew to assist with the production. I’ll stop here, but there are numerous other specific questions that will need to be answered just to get you an accurate estimate. Now, let’s talk about the lifestyle shots. What is the location? Is it a home? Is it a business? Is it in a park? If its a home, what style of home? Do we need to find a contemporary or traditional home? Will we need to prop the home? What kind of props and who’s shopping for the props? If it’s a business, do you have one in mind? What hours of the day can we shoot in the business without interrupting it? Will we need to pay them rental fees and employee overtime? Will they require a certificate of insurance showing we have liability insurance covering them, if something goes wrong or damaged? If we are shooting in a park, on a sidewalk or street we will need permits. This can sometimes take a week or more to locate the proper authorities and secure a permit. Photographing on location, will most likely require a “location scout” to go out and photograph different locations for your approval. Will we need models? How many and what ages? What ethnic mix do you want? Now you will need a hair and make-up stylist, a wardrobe stylist, a production coordinator to make the production run smooth and coordinate the models, catering, where the models change, etc., etc. As you can see a simple product shoot can get complicated very fast. The more of this information we know up front, the quicker we can estimate the cost of the project and begin checking on the availability of crew and talent.


Now let’s discuss the other major factor that can effect, “ How long will it take?”. “Legal”.

Let me give you a vendor’s prospective and a little editorial opinion. We’ve both worked for many of the world’s top corporations and a lot of the countries top advertising agencies over the past 30 years. Over that time we have seen the legal end of a photo shoot only get more ridicules and complicated. As little as ten years ago, P.O.’s and Terms and Conditions were usually less than a page long. They were pretty standard and for the most part reasonable. Since then the legal aspect of photography/motion has gotten crazy. It’s not unusual to see a P.O. that is 3 to 5 pages long and a “Master Service Agreement” can be 10 to 20 pages long. Here’s my editorial opinion on this. It seems to have gotten more complicated when personal relations with the photographer/vendor started to get devalued. As few as 5 years ago there was a lot more in-person interaction between a client and photographer/vendor. For example, In-person client meetings, in-person portfolio showings, after hours get togethers and phone calls were commonplace. Now, most everything is primarily done via email, text, or face time. These give you very little if any real understanding of the person you’re dealing with. When you meet someone in person you can get a since if they are honest, trustworthy, passionate, flexible. With quick forms of digital communication it is much harder, if not impossible to translate these attributes. Ok, that’s my editorial opinion. Having said that, we all have to deal with the way things are currently. This usually means our terms and conditions are longer and more complicated also. It also means we usually have our attorney look over the legal paper work and suggest any concerns they may have on our behalf. After this, we have our attorney contact your attorney or legal department and hash out a revised legal document if changes are needed. This all takes time and money. Trust me, we don’t want to be thought of as hard to work with, but we need to make sure we protect our business interest, our ability to make a profit, and not get ourselves in hot water down the road. These are serious and important documents where every word has legal ramifications for both parties. Unfortunately, what the attorneys agree to often doesn’t get passed on to the person at the photo shoot. This can cause issues. I suggest making sure you know all the current terms and conditions of the contract before the shoot. It will help avoid issues why’ll shooting. The quicker we can get these documents the quicker we can get started with this process and the faster we can get your photography project started.

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