Our creative process – What really goes into planning and executing your photoshoot?
Picture this, you are tossing up if now is the right time to invest in some new product photography but you have so many questions. How does it work? What am I getting for my money? Is it worth it? Well, I am here today to hopefully make some of those things clearer for you.
You’ve definitely been inspired by all the beautiful imagery that pops up in your social media feed in magazines and on that billboard that you drove by yesterday but where does it come from? Well, it doesn’t just magically appear I can tell you that, there is A LOT of work that goes into creating each and every image, I can guarantee you it is more work than you think. For a start it is important to note that often you are not just hiring a photographer (although that in itself is a massive job), you are also getting a stylist, a food photographer, cocktail maker, cook, art director, set creator, just to name a few of the hats that I wear on a daily basis. If you had to hire people for all these positions this would cost an absolute bomb and require so much more of your time to organise. Revised Edition is a one stop shop, that’s right it’s just me!
So, after you have made initial contact and expressed your interest in working with us, we will provide you with a quote for your project. There might be emails back and forth for a while, then once you have accepted the quote we can get the planning underway, exciting! At this point initial ideas are already starting to form, colour palettes, potential props, layouts etc so we send you through our creative brief to get those all-important details in writing. Once we have a completed brief back, we read through it and highlight any standout areas that are going to help us to understand your brand and bring your vision to life. At this point we usually also conduct our own research into your brand so we can fully understand your story and your customer. If we require more information than what you have provided in your brief we will follow up and ask for those extra details.
Next up we start with some brainstorming and jot down initial ideas that come to us, this can be anything from a full colour scheme to a particular prop or layout or even just words that come to mind that we think are associated and will help round out the story. We think about patterns, textures, angles, types of props and look to other mediums such as architecture, fashion and art for inspiration. Once we have all these pieces of the puzzle listed, we start fitting them together.
We start look for other visual references that are fitting with our ideas. We build a mood board on Pinterest as a starting point then as the details become clearer we go through and cull anything that no longer works. We then choose the top few inspiration images that we think makes up the vibe of your shoot and these will be used to make our own mood board in Canva with the final vision.
Before we jump into Canva we work through the colours for your shoot. We create our colour palettes based on the information that you provide in your client brief but also take inspiration from the product itself, your branding, website and socials.
Once the colour palette has been created it goes along with the inspiration images into creating our final mood board for the shoot, this will show the over all look we want to achieve. Once we have our mood board in hand we then start to create a shot list.
A shot list will go into more detail about what exactly is going to be included in each image. If you are getting 10 images for example then we will go through each one and write down which product is going to be featured, the backgrounds, props, layout, and orientation for each of the 10 images. We also make note of any other important details like if there is going to be a hand or person in the frame or some sort of movement. Of course the colours are also included here as well. This part of the process can take some time but definitely makes things easier on shoot day.
Once we have our shot list completed, we write two more lists, one for the props we need to source and one for the set design work we need to complete. For any props that don’t need to be purchased fresh we will start to source these immediately either online or from local stores. If your shoot does require fresh ingredients or flowers then we usually leave the purchasing of these items until the day before the shoot. All this work is happening behind the scenes and we haven’t even taken any photos yet!
Now for one of favourite parts, the set design! We like to paint backdrops for each shoot to make sure the colours are fitting with your colour palette and it helps keeps your images unique. We paint solid colour back drops but also custom backdrops with patterns or textures that will work for your brand. Once we have all the backdrops completed in the correct colour palette the story is beginning to come to life.
Next up is the creation of any set pieces that we require as per our shot list. This part usually involves a trip to the art store and the paint store. Set design may include cutting and creating shapes, making an archway, making something to cast a particular shadow, making an in-depth plan for some kind of installation or figuring out how we are going to get things to hang, float or make a splash and what material we need to bring that vision too life. This part can also be pretty time consuming depending on the pieces we are creating.
Once the set pieces are created, they need to be spray painted, this includes any boxes or plinths that we are using for the shoot.
When all the backdrops and set pieces are completed and we have the props selected we are pretty much ready to start shooting. We will just make one more trip to the store the day before to get those all-important fresh ingredients and flowers so they are looking their best for the following day.
On the morning of the shoot, we allow ourselves a little time to get everything out and set up. This can take a while depending on the shoot but we like to have everything organised and accessible so we can start to put it all in place as we work through the shot list.
We work through each individual shot always referring back to our mood board to ensure that the over all look is consistent and in keeping with your brand. If we come across a setup that is not quite working, we may pursue it for a while if we think there is something there worth diving into. If we decide that it just isn’t going to work, we will need to come up with another option. One image can sometimes take us anywhere from half and hour to over an hour to put together, make changes, shift props around or try different angles it is never as simple as completing the set up and getting the perfect image right off the bat. We work out how much time we are going to spend on a shoot by allowing an average of at least 45 minutes for each shot to be completed.
So, after the images are all done and we have a camera reel FULL of different options and angles we need to go through all of these and select our final images. This can be much harder than it sounds and often when it comes down to the choice between 2 images you really have to get into the nitty gritty of detail to decide which one is better. Once we have made our final selection, we will upload into Lightroom for editing.
We always begin our editing process in Lightroom where we make all the basic adjustments and do come colour correction then we take the images into Photoshop and work on perfecting all those beautiful details, removing anything that doesn’t belong and all the other fun stuff that Photoshop allows you to do. Again, depending on the image and the extent of the Photoshop work it needs sometimes I can end up spending up to and over an hour editing a single image so this is not a quick process. I do really enjoy it and I think as my editing process has changed it has made a huge difference to my photography.
When the editing is complete the images are all numbered and saved on hard drive then uploaded to Dropbox for you to use.
As you can see this is such a process, one that I enjoy very much. It is so amazing to see those original ideas and concepts come to life and the feeling you get when you submit those final images that you love to a client is just the best. Let’s also take a minute to acknowledge that things don’t always necessarily go to plan, creativity comes and goes and sometimes it decides to take a break just when you need it the most. I have come to discover this is all part of the process and don’t fight it anymore. If you would like to know how I deal with that I already have a blog post of the subject HERE.
I hope I was able to give you all some insight into the work that really goes into putting a shoot together. I have just briefly touched on each stage of our process but obviously IRL there is a lot more in-depth work that takes place. So next time you see that beautifully styled, perfectly lit, eye-catching image pop out of your feed, stop, take a moment and appreciate how much work goes into each and every aspect of that photo.