THE CREATIVE PROCESS OF BRAND PHOTOGRAPHY PT. 3
I know I told you last week to grab your pen and paper to take notes, but this week you’re also going to need a cup of coffee and some snacks because this stuff is about to get really good. If you haven’t read the last two posts on the creative process, go back and read them! You don’t want to miss a step. I promise it’s worth it. But if you’re all caught up, let’s dive in!
Step #7 - Create an outline/schedule
Before you shoot, you need to layout the products that are going to be photographed and decide:
Which products will be assigned to certain models.
The order in which the products are going to be shot.
The amount of time you’re going to spend photographing each product.
Here is an example of my outline/schedule:
For out-of-state clients15-30 minutes, I layout the products and decide which model is going to wear what product. Then, I designate 15-30 minutes of shooting time for each product. The time may fluctuate depending on if it’s a group shot, individual shot or both. Lastly, I write the model’s name on a sticky note and hang the products in the order I am going to shoot them.
In-state clients usually like to come to the shoots, so that’s when we collaborate on the outfit and model pairings. In this case, we usually shoot around 4-5 products per hour.
Step #8 - SHOOTING DAY!!
...And this is the part we have all been waiting for! I’m so excited to talk to you about this step of the creative process. But before we begin, I want to give you a simple, yet important tip: Whether you shoot for a product-based brand or a client who is the face of their brand, shoot in a way that evokes emotion. Remember, our generation doesn’t want to be sold to. They want to feel like you’re adding to their life. Now that we have that out in the open, let’s dig into the fun stuff.
When I start my shoot, I want to make sure everyone is comfortable and ready to go. What I typically like to do at every shoot is to greet everyone and give them a brief rundown of the day. Also, turning on music is a must! There’s nothing more inviting than feel-good tunes (and coffee) to get the day started. While everyone is still saying ‘hi’ to each other, I set up my equipment and make sure my camera is in manual mode. I also adjust the camera settings according to the lighting in the location.
When shooting indoors:
Use natural light from the window
Make sure the light hits the model’s face
When shooting outdoors:
Make sure the models are backlit with light.
If it’s very sunny, tell the model to close his or her eyes and open them when you count to three.
I usually adjust the settings on the spot. But, if you want to learn more about adjusting your settings to the lighting in a room, comment below so I can create a resource on that topic!
Once my gear is set up, I position the models - or the client - and direct them to move a little. I find that giving directions on how to move helps the client loosen up. I usually say things like, “look left” or “put your hand underneath your chin,” to help them get into a pose. Soon after, you’ll notice your model open up and start posing on their own - especially after showing them the back of your camera.
Psst… Don’t be afraid to show your model or the client the back of your camera! I know you want to keep it to yourself until the pictures are edited, but it helps the client see what they look like — and it motivates them to keep posing until you get the perfect shot!
You also want to make sure you are complimenting them during the shoot. It can be awkward for a person to pose in silence and not get any feedback. It’s like when a teacher stands over your shoulder while taking a test — it’s nerve-racking and #superawk. That’s how some people feel when you’re quietly looking at them through a lens. Don’t get me wrong, some people are natural at posing and don’t need a lot of direction. But saying compliments like, “You look amazing!” helps build their confidence.
Here are some tips to keep in mind for shoot day —
Shoot in RAW because it allows you to manipulate the image in post-production.
Make sure there is open communication with your photography subjects.
Don’t forget your gear: cameras, lenses, batteries, lighting kit (if you need one) and SD cards.
Pack water - it helps you keep hydrated!
Take snacks. You might get hungry if it’s a long photo shoot.
Pack bug spray! In Florida, mosquitoes love you.
Don’t forget your shoot layout from step 7!
ALWAYS BE ON TIME
How to get the final image —
Keep in mind the brand’s vision for the campaign
Tell your client to have an open mind regarding the photos, it’ll give you more wiggle room to be creative.
If the shot is not coming out the way you want it, communicate that with the brand. Sometimes they can help you come up with an alternative idea.
Step #9 - Editing the images
Just like the shooting step of the creative process, editing looks different for every photographer. If you already have an established style, then edit according to that aesthetic. But if you’re still struggling with this aspect of a brand campaign, I recommend that you look through different kinds of editing styles (you can look on IG or Pinterest) and find your niche!
Personally, I found a niche within my brand photography niche. I break down the sub-niche into two categories:
Muted tones - clean, white, no saturation
Tropical tones - rich, vibrant and saturated
This is my niche because it’s the most commonly asked themes among brands collaborations. During the preparation process I ask brands, “which of these two categories do you fit into and how can I adjust it to uniquely fit your brand?” Then, I make sure to edit the pictures with the style they chose. Personally, I learned that I can’t force brands to fit my style. Instead, I have to set an outline - Muted tones & Tropical tones - and adjust it according to the brand’s campaign style.
If you’re a brand looking for a photographer:
Make sure their aesthetic aligns with your brand vision. .
As a photographer:
When you're working for a brand, you are immersing yourself in their mission statement. So, it's not always about what you want.. It’s about adapting to their style, while also integrating your editing flare.
Okay, so you probably want to know exactly how I edit my photos. Honestly? I don’t always edit every shoot the same way. All shoots are different, but I try to maintain the tones within the niche that I talked about earlier. But here are some editing techniques I use:
I use Lightroom for all of my shoots. This program makes it easy to edit massive shoots with features such as the copy and paste settings tool. This tool essentially allows you to apply a customized edit to multiple photos. If you haven’t used this program, you can read more about it at https://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop-lightroom.html.
I also use presets. Think of presets like Instagram filters - except you can manipulate them to fit your style. It makes it easy to have continuity in the images, while also personalizing them. You can typically find presets on photography websites or in Lightroom. If you’re looking for new presets, would you be interested in purchasing mine?
Comment below if you would like to have me sell my presets!
Make sure the whites in images are NOT blown out!
Use the brush tool to smooth out skin.
ALWAYS straighten images. You can use the crop tool to correct tilts.
A key thing to remember while editing: If it’s a one hour shoot, it can take up to three hours to edit it. Make sure you put enough time aside for the editing process.
Step #10 - Delivering the product
Ladies and gents, this is the moment you deliver your baby! It’s normal to get nervous about whether the brand will love your finished product or not.
Just take a breather. Relax. And remind yourself that you worked super hard on this collaboration..If they don’t love it, you still learned something! Everything is a learning process. More often than not, brands that are going to absolutely LOVE your work. So be encouraged!
When I am finished with photos, I export them and post them in an online photo gallery called Pic-Time (check out the website:https://www.pic-time.com). Then, I send the gallery link to the brand and wait for a response. I’m telling you, this process can be nerve-racking. But remain confident in your work because it does pay off!
You can use the link above to get a discount when signing up I believe!
How long does it take for the brand to respond & How do they respond -
It takes about two days for the brand to respond, but it can take longer depending on how busy the brand is.
The brand usually responds via email -- or text, if I’m working with a local client.
They also respond by tagging me in their Instagram posts.
How to sustain a relationship with the brand after the campaign -
Thank them for their time and consideration. Also, let them know it was a pleasure working with them.
Usually, they’ll reach out to you again for another project, but it doesn’t hurt to check in with them once in a while.
Tag them in your Instagram posts if you use a photo from the collaboration.
Final thoughts on the creative process
Well, my friends, that concludes this amazing series on the creative process of brand photography. As you can see, it’s more front-end work than back-end work when collaborating with brands.
All ten steps are essential in order to curate a successful campaign. Brands that invest in photography will see tremendous growth in their business. And photographers must be ready to help elevate that brand to the next level!
I will be announcing the next resource series in a few days, so stay tuned! Also, keep an eye on your email because I will be creating a simplified version of these steps in a PDF and sending them out to you! If you haven’t subscribed to my email list, you’re missing out - go subscribe.
Comment. Comment. Comment.
If you have any questions about this series or want me to create a resource on a particular topic, drop a comment down below . Also, feel free to share your photography/brand tips. I want us to learn from one other and grow as a community!
Christine & Alondra