Photography is an essential element in public relations but commissioning professionals can be expensive. It is therefore vital to make sure that you provide a detailed brief and, if you are directly involved in some way, be properly prepared yourself.
Ten Things You Should Do
- Write down a detailed brief. This should contain the location, expected site conditions, contacts with whom the photographer will need to co-ordinate, an itemised list of the shots required, the kind of photographic medium to use: digital (most likely), negative film, transparency and so on.
- Timing. Make sure your chosen photographer gets the brief in good time. They may wish to visit locations before the day of shoot to assess site conditions for themselves.
- Advise all parties to be prepared. Especially at locations where photography is to take place. If uniforms are involved, make sure staff have new ones.
- Check safety issues. If any employees are to appear in the pictures, then ensure they are wearing and/or using any mandatory safety equipment and procedures. Remember too, that the photographer may also need appropriate safety clearance, clothes and equipment.
- Now is a good time to clean thoroughly. Make sure any products or company signage that may appear in pictures are thoroughly clean. A camera lens in the hands of a professional will show the muck in detail.
- De-clutter. Tidy up unnecessary clutter and mess in areas where you expect the photographer to take good pictures. Remove calendars and any sensitive company information you definitely don’t want to appear.
- Photographers will usually bring their own lighting. However, rows of missing light tubes never look good in pictures.
- Always use new product if you can. For tabletop photography of smaller products, make sure each product is in perfect condition, bag and label it for the photographer.
- Think about scale. Sometimes small components give no sense of scale once photographed. Therefore, ask the photographer to include a small coin, ruler or some other comparison of size in the picture.
- Be available on shoot day. Sometimes the best shots come from improvisation on the day. The photographer may need your quick authorisation to gain full co-operation of other staff members or gain access to more sensitive areas.
Five Things You Should Not Do
- Don’t ask an architectural photographer to take portraits. There are no hard and fast rules but most photographers have their speciality – food, fashion, buildings, people, site, small components, aerial and so on.
- Don’t expect staff to take professional pictures. Most of us can drive cars but we can never be racing drivers! Modern digital cameras help novices to take better pictures – but not professional pictures.
- Don’t expect perfect conditions. The sun may not shine when commissioning photography in winter – or summer come to think of it! If you can be flexible with timing, give the photographer chance to consult weather forecasts for the best possible conditions.
- Don’t be upset if a photographer tells you he can’t take pictures. Even though the sun is shining and all the conditions look perfect, there is usually a reason – wind! A professional uses a heavy tripod and slow shutter speeds to achieve pin-sharp pictures – wind wobble can be as big a problem as a dark rainy day.
- Don’t assume third parties will co-operate. If you need their permission for site or other forms of access for the photographer ask and get it in writing. Give the photographer a copy, so they can show it on-site.