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.
Recently we were asked by one of our clients to fly around the country and photograph their retail stores. How hard could that be?
As always, it's never as easy as it looks. The client requested they all needed to have a consistent look and feel.
If you've ever shot on location, you know this isn't as easy to achieve as one might think. Here were just a few of the challenges we had to overcome.
1. Weather: All the locations had different weather conditions. Some locations were perfectly clear, one location we were dodging thunderstorms, and others were totally cloudy when we needed to shoot.
2. We had only one opportunity to get the photograph: Since we had a number of locations and a tight schedule to keep we didn't have the luxury to wait until the weather was perfect to get the shot.
3. Circumstances out of our control: A number of the locations had surprises. All of the store's exterior lights are controlled by the corporate office.
There was no switch or timer that we could control at the local retail store to turn the lights on or off. For some reason one of the stores exterior lights didn't come on until way after dark. Not ideal shooting conditions. Another location had brick pavers instead of asphalt as it's parking lot surface. Last but not least, one of the stores had a tree planted that obscured the view of the building at the angle we needed to shoot.
As you can see, with the talented retouching artistry of Tiffany Matson, we were able to make the stores look beautiful and consistent.
Every now and then you get asked to shoot a project most people don't normally think of you for.
The truth is we are mostly known for shooting beautiful food.
This project we were asked to photograph anything that looked interesting or innovative in our clients building
and they would use it on their new website.
Here are a few of the images we ended up with for http://novationiq.com
Early in my photographic career, two of my photographer friends were out on a fine art photo trip and I suggested we all take a photo from the same tripod holes. I wanted to experiment and see if we all saw the world in the same way.
To my surprise, all of our photographs looked completely different. We all have, what I call our own "Visual Language". Everyone sees the world in their own unique way.
I recently took this a step further and looked to see if there were any similarities between my personal fine art photography and my commercial photography.
What do you think?
For those of you just getting started, the process of finding your personal "Visual Language" will take some time.
The best way I know to figure this out is to shoot, shoot, shoot!
The other advice I have that has helped me figure this out is, print out little thumbnail prints (no more than 2x3 inches ) of your favorite images. Lay them out on the floor and start putting the images together that look and feel similar. This will help you start seeing your own "Visual Language".
Thanks for joining us for our final installment in this three-part series on launching a new brand. If you've followed along, you know that we've discussed what it takes to prepare for a large photo and video shoot, how many people it actually takes to pull off a production, what factors are taken into consideration when planning and prepping and how decisions are made on set.
One of the components of this multifaceted project was a video to announce the launch of the brand into the marketplace. Our client challenged us to capture all of the following in a two-minute video – the ease with which a number of their products could be prepared, customers in a restaurant enjoying the prepared products and multiple testimonials from actual brew pub owners talking about why they liked and used the products.
Add to that a script that was still in flux days before the shoot began, some extremely short deadlines, the logistical aspect of shooting at four locations, confirming models, extras, food recipes, props, etc...you get the idea. While it was a lot to wrangle, capture and edit, it was a challenge we were totally up for!
Shooting in the studio and on location in Kansas City, Grand Rapids, MI and Springfield, MO, we captured days of video footage. We can't say enough about how wonderful the video crew, food stylists, production coordinators, talent agency, and others we're surely failing to remember were, and how they were the ones who really made this large production come together.
A special thank you to Isaac Alongi who DP'd, edited and colored this video project. Without his talent and flexibility, the end result would not be nearly as beautiful as it is.
It truly takes a village, and we've got a great one surrounding us!
Be sure to check out the final video.
Our Assistant Food Stylist making sure we have enough fries in the bowl before shooting begins.
Getting the thumbs up from talent!
Our Food Stylist putting the final touches on the hero plate of food.
The Associate Creative Director reporting back to his team at home on how the shoot's going.
Making sure everything is lookin' good on location in Grand Rapids, MI.
We used a two camera set up for the Brew Chef interview videos.
Q&A with a local Brew Chef about why he uses these products.
A fun little clip of David directing the talent...or was it him just saying out loud what he needed his assistant to bring him?
Click on the image to play the launch video.