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How to Prepare for a Photo Shoot (Tip 1: Don’t let the engineers get you down)

how to prepare for a photo shoot

How to Prepare for a Photo Shoot (Tip 1: Don’t let the engineers get you down)

One stressful part of a marketer’s job is organizing a photo shoot. It doesn’t matter if a company needs portraits, product photography, or intricate marketing photos – there is a thought pattern that runs through every marketer’s mind before a shoot.

How do we portray this piece of abstract technology?

Does “x” convey our level of dedication?

Will this shot help us differentiate ourselves from the pack?

How are we going to shoot all of this?

What have I signed up for?

The comic strip Dilbert loves to pick on the marketing department. Look at this strip from 2010.


Our goal is to help marketers avoid the photo/video shoot stress-trap. While we can’t get rid of the engineers (no, not even for that much money), we can give you tips on how to coordinate a shoot while keeping your sanity somewhat intact.

Develop a plan and agenda. Think about your needs and wants. What is the point of the shoot? What are we trying to capture? As much as you want to shoot “off the cuff” and roll with whatever looks good in the moment, a plan will help ensure that everyone’s needs and wants are met in a streamlined manner. Brainstorm with your team to generate a number of ideas and narrow your focus from there. We can help you narrow your focus by telling you what will and will not look good on camera through scouting.

Know the off limit areas in advance. This could be a room that is designated for a major meeting during the shoot or a piece of equipment that has proprietary technology that needs to be protected from shifty competitors. As photographers, we often subscribe to the “ask for forgiveness rather than permission” philosophy, but knowing your boundaries ahead of time will alleviate day of meltdowns.

Communicate with the staff in advance. I cannot stress how important it is to communicate with the staff before the photographer shows up. There may be people that are not cooperative and don’t want to be “inconvenienced.” Explain to them that we only need them/their space for a short time and their cooperation will speed up the process. Ask the staff to be flexible and take note of the people who are eager to jump in as a last minute model. We recently photographed a company that had an extremely flexible staff. We ended up ahead of schedule and were able to add extra portraits/a group photo to the list.

Have a day-of point person. Again, super essential: Having a point person to work with the photographer allows us to focus on what we do best – making you (and your company) look like a rockstar.

Be realistic. Know your staff and your shot list. Trying to fit as much as possible into a full day usually ends up putting unnecessary stress on you and the photographer.  We want to be efficient, but we don’t want our clients to walk away with feelings of failure. We don’t mind splitting up a shoot into half days or other combinations to accommodate your space and staffing schedules.

Know your “once-in-a-lifetime” shots. Is there someone that is hard to nail down for a photo? Is there a piece of equipment that is available for a limited amount of time? Make note of this ahead of time. We can either photograph it first or keep it as a hard time slot on the schedule.

Of course, it is easier to read “how to” and plan all of this than it is to implement. There is no such thing as a “perfect shoot.” Life and people are unpredictable, and things happen. Hopefully, these tips will help you rise above the stressors of working in a Dilbert-esque environment and elevate your experience with the photo shoot.