For most people, the idea of investing in a branded photo shoot sounds like an unnecessary expense. After all, there are plenty of beautiful stock photos available for free online. But, in the end, nothing sets your marketing materials apart from competitors like unique, custom images that fit your brand’s style guidelines and speak directly to your ideal client.
Let’s assume you’ve already determined the strategic value of doing a photo shoot and have chosen to stage the shoot at your office, and now you’re ready to prepare your space for the shoot.
In this blog, we’ll share ways you can make your office camera-ready and learn to make the most of your time with a photographer so you stay on schedule, keep within budget and ensure high-quality images are captured to heighten your marketing materials.
Step 1: Choose a Location
When most people think of a photo shoot, they often picture a photography studio with a long, white canvas suspended on mounts, draped across the floor and surrounded with professional lighting equipment. But those materials are expensive, bulky and it takes a lot of know-how to operate them. So, let’s discuss how to make due with what you’ve got.
Depending on what your photography goals are, there are a few things to consider before committing to using your own space. If you have an office that’s perfectly styled to fit your brand and filled with natural light, then you’re in luck.
But what happens when that isn’t the case? Let’s explore some scenarios:
- Your office is underground or otherwise has no natural light: If you want people to perceive your brand as modern you need photos brimming with sunlight. Natural light may be ideal for your brand imagery, but in most cases supplementing a natural source with artificial lights will help fill your photos and take your images to the next level.
- You want a mix of professional, product and lifestyle imagery but don’t have presentable space in your office: Don’t fret — people rent out office space all around you. Search for places to shoot through services like WeWork or Airbnb. If you can select a photo shoot spot near one of your favorite places in town, you can capture some more “day in the life” lifestyle imagery while you walk over there to get a mix of professional and candid photos.
- You know where you want to shoot, but it’s at another business: Just ask! You never know how helpful some people can be. Let the business know what it would require of them (for example: at a coffee shop, you just might need a corner table near the window for an hour) and offer to share your images with them for their marketing efforts. There’s a chance they’ll say no, but if they say yes, hey! You’ve got a space!
Step 2: Clean
This may sound like a no-brainer, but the truth is any space can be cleaner. Let’s break this section into two parts: cleanliness and photographic hygiene.
In this case, cleanliness refers to actual health concerns in a space like dust, dirty floors, etc. and extends all the way to the subject of your photos. You don’t want your product looking like it just came out of a shipping box or your talent to have oily skin and unkempt clothing.
Clean everything and then clean it again. In high-resolution photography, every little speck of dirt gets captured, meaning you may be stuck looking at it on your website’s homepage for a couple years as it eats you away inside.
Where to begin:
- Meticulously clean all areas (vacuum rugs, carpets, mop hard surfaces, clean countertops, clean windows)
- Polish your product until it’s squeaky clean
- Replace all burned out light bulbs (likely something in the 3100K – 4500K range)
- Straighten all lamp shades
- Clean blinds/window treatments
- Open windows and let as much natural light in as possible
- Straighten soft goods like rugs or bedding if they’re in your location
- Remove all shoes/clothing/jackets and place in closets
When working with models, there are a few additional things to consider:
- Have lint rollers handy for clothing and accessories
- Have hairspray on set for strays
- Have oil-removing wipes available to reduce shine (it gets hot under those lights)
Just because a space is “clean” doesn’t mean it’s not cluttered. We’ll call clutter “photographic hygiene,” which includes anything that can distract from the focus of your photograph.
Remember, this photo shoot doesn’t just promote a product on your website; it positions your brand for your audience. What would your ideal client say if they saw your massive Beanie Baby™ collection in the background of your CEO’s new headshot? Your goal is to eliminate inconsistencies.
Here’s how you can create a hygienic space to shoot:
- Remove all clutter
- Hide any exposed wires or cabling
- Turn on all overhead lights and lamps
- Replace any light bulbs that are different color to create a flat light
- Turn off all ceiling fans
- Turn off all TVs
- Turn off all computer screens
- Remove personal pictures (or replace with general landscape/object photos)
Step 3: Props
In our experience, site-specific photography can require a lot of compromise. The difference between a less-than-stellar result and photos that meet our clients’ goals are determined by real-time problem-solving of unforeseen variables.
In the past we’ve used rolling dry erase boards or big white sticky note pads as reflectors to help fill shots when the weather changes and there’s less natural light than we’d hoped for. It’s not the most glamorous setup, but it gets the shots.
When you have the option, plan ahead and account for what your photographer might want to bring with them to be flexible within the space, they’ll be glad you let them know about any unforeseen obstacles. Often the best way to prepare is to go to those spots to look and see what you need specifically and take some test photos on your phone to get a sense of what your finished product might look like.
Want a flat layout with props specific to your brand? Be sure to have all those props assembled beforehand and make sure your photographer is briefed on the shot list to ensure every image you need gets captured.
In the layout department, it’s worth noting that, if you hire a professional, not every photographer is also a stylist. Some photographers may require help arranging product or décor in order to capture your brand in an ideal light. For something like flat product photography, styling takes a bit extra of time to properly layout and capture, but it can be worth it for a clean hero image.
To help ensure you’re prepared for photo shoot day, confirm with your photographer if they also provide product styling services. If not, ensure someone on your team can help or bring in an outside stylist.
There are always going to be variables that affect your preparedness for a photo shoot, but if you take the time to clean your space and gather your materials, you’ll be on track to mitigate the risk these unexpected challenges bring.
Step 4: Prepare in Advance
Along with preparing your space, it helps to prepare your team and your talent. One tactic we find successful is to have your shot list determined ahead of time. Once complete, share your shot list to your photographer so they can spend some creative time with your requests and come prepared with ideas.
To help make your photo shoot prep easier, we developed a shot list template to streamline your planning.
If you’re in need of refreshed brand imagery, getting started with a concept and developing a shot list can be a simple way to get the ball rolling. For help preparing your photo shoot, contact us and we’ll work with you to create a plan that encompasses your business goals and prepares you for a productive shoot.