November 11, 2021
In David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks a being known as an atemporal, Esther Little, hides her mind and identity within the mind of another, Holly Sykes. This hidden identity is not a chronological account of Esther’s life, but rather it is described as “a nebula of moments”. These moments define who Esther is, encapsulating her identity.
Mitchell’s book was brought to mind while thinking of the importance of capturing a defining moment in your brand’s photoshoot. A fully formed brand has a complex identity, and a piece of this identity must come across in each image captured by the shoot. Each moment will house the experience that conveys your brand, and multiple photos strung together can act as a genetic blueprint for this brand.
To help capture these defining moments in your brand’s photoshoot there are 5 steps you should keep in mind.
The first step to preparing for your brand’s photoshoot is idea construction. Before you can worry about how you are going to convey your vision you had better be clear on what your vision is. Your brand’s identity should be foremost on your mind, specifically in terms of its archetype and the target audience that this archetype connects with. Equally important is the specific goal of this photoshoot: is it part of a rebranding, the launch of a new product or service, announcing itself to a new social media platform? To properly address these concerns, you’re trying to craft a full concept of what you want to see in the photos. This will include what’s happening in the scenes, the colours, close-up detail or wide angle, orientation and crop style, and also where these photos are planning to be used (website, newsletter, business cards).
Take some time collecting these types of details, starting with the aspects you absolutely know.
I find it useful to ask myself specific questions: who’s in this scene, what are they doing, how do they feel, how does that make me feel? Usually when I find answers it leads to new questions, which helps narrow my thought process to exactly what I’m looking for. But everyone has their own brainstorming technique and sometimes it helps to try out a few. In the end you should have a very good idea of what you’re trying to accomplish, and what you want the finished product to look like, and so the new task becomes how to move that vision into reality.
Now that you have your idea, you will need to organize all of the different parts that need to come together on the day of the photoshoot. Perhaps most important is finding the right photographer. When researching the photographer and looking at their work pay special attention to the brand they are trying to capture; a wholesome, or comforting image might not be best suited for an adventurous or bold brand.
The organization phase also includes generating a shot list. Start by listing the scenes you must have, and work outward to scenes that would be nice to get, and then reorder them in such a way that will be easiest on the photographer and models, allowing for maximum fluidity on the day of the shoot.
What props are you going to need for each shot, and where can you track them down? Are there specific wardrobe items that will be needed? Every item that will show up on camera will be a part of the experience that your photoshoot is attempting to capture. Maybe not every prop will end up being necessary on the day, but it’s better to be overprepared than underprepared.
Organization will begin to make your vision seem more real, and your goals more attainable.
As the plans begin to cohere it’s time to start doing the prep-work. Scout a location. Do these scenes occur inside, outside, in transitional spaces? You should consider the time of day, and what weather you’re hoping for. Weather reporting has gotten surprisingly accurate despite the old stereotypes to the contrary, but even so, it’s good to have back-up contingencies in terms of location or date.
You should generate a call sheet, which includes the phone numbers of everyone on the shoot, meeting locations, the date and time of the shoot, and any other details that will keep all involved on the same page. You might also include on this sheet assigned roles: who’s bringing the props, the wardrobe, someone might be assigned to hair and makeup. If models are required, they will need to be hired, briefed on the schedule, and added to the call sheet. Aside from knowing their roles, everyone should have an idea of your vision as well. Think about a good way to communicate this to them.
You won’t have time to micromanage every detail, and if everyone is on the same page the day will go much more smoothly
This aspect of communicating your vision to your team, is absolutely paramount for your photographer, so much so that it warrants its own stage. After you’ve detailed your vision for them, and outlined your shot list, an open discussion should show you to what extent they know what you’re going for. Don’t be afraid to correct them if they are off on a certain concept or image, their goal is to do the best job for you so you’ll use them next time, and recommend them to others; they truly want to know if they’re missing something. You also want to discuss the location, and time. The photographer might have opinions on certain angles or shot directions depending on the time of day. Discuss the planned timeframe of the shoot, and get feedback on how they see the shoot going. An open dialogue is great for creativity, but make sure you feel comfortable with any aspect that the photographer is bringing to your vision. Once you and the photographer are on the same page, and they share your vision, it’s time for the final stage.
Get some sleep!
Because on the day of the photoshoot you’ll want to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I stressed being assertive and hands on when planning with your photographer, the opposite is true for the day of the shoot. Of course, you want to correct any mistakes you notice, you are in control, but you definitely don’t want to micromanage. You’ve done all of the preparation, and now it’s best to stay back and let creativity flow.
Your team will be following a shot list and a time sensitive plan, but you wouldn’t want the photographer to feel constricted in the moment. Aside from the perfect shots you’ve planned for, there could always be happy accidents in the moment. And a good shot is a good shot even if it’s not right for this specific aspect of your brand; it might come in handy later. By the end of the shoot, you should have a set of shots that encapsulate your vision and the identity of your brand.
By following the flow of idea creation, organization, prep-work, planning with the photographer, and ending with a great photoshoot, you will be on track to create or enhance the front-facing image of your brand. Each photo used should be permeated by the underlying archetype that defines your brand, and the core values it stands for.
Your customers should be able to identify your brand as soon as they see it, and feel its identity in the experiences captured by the shoot.
- Author: Greg Brown