Creative

Photoshoots: How Not to Get Hung Up on the Details

By Troy Giesegh, Senior Art Director

February 21, 2017

Photoshoots are all in the details. They can be fun and rewarding, but can also be time-consuming and frustrating if you allow yourself to get too hung up on the little details and miss out on the big picture.

Photoshoots for your brand are a big deal. Adding custom images to your marketing and advertising arsenal is a great way to take your efforts to the next level and appear as polished as possible. But the more you focus in on the minutia of a photoshoot, the harder it can be to keep in perspective what is and isn’t important. Getting bogged down on a single photo can make a photoshoot last longer, be more challenging, and it can end up costing more, too—especially if the shoot runs over or into another day to ensure you get all the images that you want because a few are taking more time than you planned.

It’s a good idea to keep in mind the non-negotiable aspects of a shoot in order to let go of the ones that might matter a little less. Here are a few things that S&B never compromises on when we are on location or in the studio:

  1. The image has to be in focus. Lighting, color, and the image crop can all be adjusted later on, but if the photo isn’t in focus, there’s nothing you can do about it.
  2. The image has to have good aesthetics, and it must also show what it needs to show. When we set up a shot, we strive to make sure all elements of the photo are proportional and that we can see everything we need to see.

 

In this image, we needed to be able to see all the variations of the chocolate truffles, and the truffles themselves needed to be crisp and clean. In the original image on the left, you can see tiny flecks of chocolate and slight scratches on the truffles. On the right, we've removed these flaws and made each truffle perfect. It’s not the most exciting composition ever, but it accomplished the goal of the shoot.

 

  1. Completed Shot List. Did you make it through your list of images for the session? If so, it means you—and we—have everything necessary to keep your project moving forward.
  2. Does this photo make you feel what you want your audience to feel? If so, little things like light and color can be tweaked in post-processing. What you want to look for is your emotional response to the photo to make sure the photo or photos are accomplishing the goal you have in mind.

 

This spread was all about after-dinner drinks and their perfect cheese pairing. It needed to be dark and moody, making readers want to cozy up in the evening with a cocktail and some Wisconsin cheese.

 

  1. No one wants their brand photos to feel forced or seem fake. If at the end of a shoot you can walk away knowing that the new photos fit your brand’s look and feel, it was a good shoot.

 

Keep in mind that not every photoshoot will knock your socks off. You can’t have magical lighting all the time, and sometimes what you are shooting isn’t the most interesting of subjects. However, if every photoshoot wraps up accomplishing all five of these goals above, it is absolutely a success.

With those five non-negotiables in mind, here are a few things that we just don’t need to get as hung up on during a photoshoot:

  1. Logos, smudges, minor imperfections in props. All of these can be fixed in post-production. Logos can—and have been—removed. Small specks of dust can get fixed. A little fuzz on a tablecloth can be edited over. Don’t be tempted to drive yourself (or your crew) crazy trying to fix these tiny imperfections when the shot itself is great and they can be edited out later.

 

When you’re coordinating a large-scale photo shot with talent, you can’t always count on them to wear the exact right thing—or for the location to cooperate. In this photo, we were able to remove the logo from the farmer’s shirt and all the bugs and specks of dust that came between the camera and our subjects, no problem. Original image on top, corrected photo below.

 

  1. Worry about having enough props. The best photos are often simple and uncomplicated, allowing you to focus on what really matters: the product at hand. Plus, a simple photo with fewer props is easier to edit later, making sure that the end result is exactly what you want.
  2. Having the exact props envisioned. Oftentimes, photoshoots happen weeks and months ahead of when a project is set to launch. This means that finding the perfect seasonal props isn’t always possible. If you’re doing a holiday shoot in September, it’s unlikely that you will find red poinsettias at the supermarket. When the real deal isn’t available, look to realistic fakes to get the job done, and use them in the margins or as a backdrop.

 

We didn’t have shiny new baseballs on hand, but were totally able to edit the well-worn ones that we did have! By focusing on composition and not color, we got the shot and were able to perfect it later in post-production. Original image on top, corrected photo below.

 

  1. The exact crop of an image. It is always, always better to have a wider angle than you think you need when you head into post-production. Give yourself—and your designers—as much real estate to work with around the borders of a photo so they have room for text overlays and image extensions as they use the photos in the future. The photos can always be cropped tighter in post-production.

 

Above all, it’s important to expect the unexpected at a photoshoot. If something’s not working, be prepared to improvise. Whether you’re trying to record a ham carving and the ham won’t stay put, or you show up to the natural light studio only to find the skies darkened with rain clouds, every photoshoot requires a little flexibility. With a bit of thought, your team can have someone off camera holding that ham steady, and artificial light can be brought in to boost what nature is lacking. We can always try to shoot a plate of cookies from a different angle, or maybe not on a plate at all.

Being willing to get creative to get the shot is essential. There’s no reason to stress about anything else.

Do photoshoots frustrate you to no end? Let’s work together on your next one to make the process a little—or a lot!—more enjoyable. Email us at mlanderud@stephanbrady.com and we’ll chat!


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