One of the most rewarding aspects of this job is having the opportunity to work with small businesses and start-ups. Being a contributing part of a process that supports and helps develop a new venture is something I find incredibly satisfying.
I was recently commissioned by a new business for commercial photography that had it all: a wide range of work, huge brief, tight turnaround time, and immoveable deadline – all over the Christmas break. This was a challenge in every respect. Yet what initially seemed like a daunting task turned out to be one of my most rewarding commissions.
And the key to it being a successful shoot rather than me suffering a festive breakdown? The pre-shoot planning. By anticipating potential issues and working out the logistics I was able to focus on the job in hand: taking photographs.
Communication works both ways
When it comes to clear communication it is rarely more important than when your client is a new business. It can be all too common for assumptions to form – perhaps due to a fear of asking ‘basic’ questions or the risk of sounding patronising – which can result in different expectations about what can and will be achieved.
Part of my job is to ensure everyone is on the same page. By speaking to the client ahead of the session I was able to distil a wide-ranging brief into a succinct prioritisation of shots, from the essential to the optional. This gave me focus and the client confidence that we were both working towards the same objectives.
It is also important to remember that communication has to be a two-way street. In this case the client was starting out with a completely blank slate. Without a website there was no existing style of imagery for me to refer to or take guidance from.
By speaking (and listening) to the client in advance of the shoot I was able to understand what she had in mind: the type of images she wanted, the mood she wanted to convey, and desirable colour schemes. Creative license is all well and good but communication from the client helped me visualise the end product, turning an intimidating job into something far more manageable.
“A vision without strategy remains an illusion”
Not only was there a huge number of photographs to capture on the day – I lost count on the shot-list after #101 – but many required working with the client’s children (both under five years old). Anyone who has worked with children that age knows it can be a lottery as to what you will get: they might be angels or... maybe not quite so angelic!
I estimated that I might have one solid hour of ‘workable time’ with the children before their boredom kicked in and so I used this as an anchor point around which to devise a strategy. My aim was to move from the product photography, to the child portraits, to the formal headshots in a methodical way which limited the risk of the children getting tired.
Naturally there had to be some flexibility factored in, which benefited me when it came to capturing candid moments. But throughout the shoot I could return to the strategy in my mind to keep me focused. It meant that I could just pick up the camera and get to work with minimal lens changes, lighting setups, or other surprises.
The outcome of all this was a successful session, a happy client, and a house with two content children. What more could I ask for!
If you're a new business I’d love to hear from you. I’m able to provide a range of commercial imagery to support your brand so check out exactly what I can do for you and let’s do some planning.