Saturday, September 10, 2011

My "Photoshooting" Process

This post is intended as an insight to my process of doing a photoshoot for you, my client, but can also apply to amateur photographers who wish to conduct business more effectively, professionally, or just more like me - for whatever reason that may be.



So, it will all start with maybe a phone call, email, or even a Facebook message. You, my potential client, will be searching for a photographer for the shoot you have in mind. Maybe at the point of our conversation you are still shopping around, and not sold on any particular photog to work with yet.

My first order of business will be asking the right questions to figure out exactly what your photo shoot will entail.  People may be a little reluctant to communicate with you as much as you like, before they get a price from you. This is a delicate dance, since I don't like to give a cost to shoot, without knowing exactly what is going to be involved.

Intelligent questions for your potential client will include;

  1. How much travel is involved, where would you like to shoot? 
  2. What is the final usage of the photo, their desired medium, and the amounts of which you need?  Do you want selected prints in hardcopy, do you want digital files for use and re-use within your business. 
  3. How many subjects (people/objects) will I be required to photograph?
  4. Do you have any preconceived ideas/styles/themes which you would like for me to achieve with our photos? 
After I have been given answers to all, or some enough of my questions, I will proceed to draw up a quote form.  In my case, I use my invoice template which I created, and then fill in the charges that would be associated with said shoot. Print it to file or in hardcopy, send it to your potential client, and call it your quote form.   

If you want some advice, or info about invoices, and mine in particular, check out this post from a few months back.  You may play the waiting game at this point.  Your client will be weighing the pros and cons of paying you for your services over the next guy.  I try to avoid contacting them, or otherwise pestering the potential client. If they decide on my services, they will let me know.

When you next get word from your client, its them saying "Yes! I love it!  Shoot me and make me look awesome like you do for everyone else you photograph!!" Okay maybe it doesn't go exactly like that, but you get the idea.  Now, choose your date to shoot, and proceed to tell your client that you will be forwarding them your contract for services. 

You want your contract for services, signed and completed, before you shoot your first photo.  If you client is on the ball, maybe they have it signed, and emailed back to you in a matter of hours/or days. Tardiness ain't cool, but you can't really say that to a client.  Just hope that they get it to you soon, and if not, always show up to your shoot with a couple blank hardcopies. 

Now - arrive at your shoot. This is where you do your thing, with your style, and your gear. I have no pointers for you here - except - SHOW UP ON TIME, you are a professional and are representing yourself and only yourself.  I will always always always confirm with my client the day before the shoot date.  Last thing you want is the 30 minute heads-up that your client decided to cancel your shoot. At least if you check in the day before, if they are planning to cancel the shoot, they will tell you then. 

Shoot done, your client had a blast, because you made them feel comfortable in the shoot, listened to their ideas, and were all around cooperative.  It's not over yet.  In fact, if a client decides to hire you again for a second job, it will be almost entirely based on your conduct with them from this point on, in addition to the quality of the work you do. 

So, I get home from my shoot. Load pictures onto the computer immediately. Imagine doing a whole shoot, and then not transferring your pictures over immediately and they accidentally get deleted?  How do you tell your client all the photos are gone without seeming like a  complete dummy?  Trick question - you can't.  

Normally I will 'sit on' the photos for a day.  That is - try not to look at them, think about them, or visualize them in my head even.  When I go back to working on the photos, I want to take as objective of a point of view as I can.  Operate like a binary processor - 1s and 0s, Good and Bad, although it may be more like "Awesome!" and "Mediocre"since "bad" photos would be deleted in the field.   

-IF- 

If you are not responsible for choosing the photos your clients get; for instance, if you give them the option to digitally proof every image from the shoot, you can skip the paragraph above. Because, well, my opinion no longer matters on the photos.  The client will have full reign, to choose the photos they like, and forget about the ones they don't.   I do this by preparing a proof sheet (check out this post), and then sending to the client for their review. 

Now, more waiting game.  More often than not, I have noticed that when you give a regular client the opportunity to choose from 200+ photos, they will have a very very very hard time choosing.  Clients have not trained themselves to look at a photo objectively the way a photog does, nor do they have the specialized software that would aid most photographer's in the sorting and categorizing.  So if you are allowing your client's to proof, expect at least a week of time to go by while they choose. 

Your client has chosen, and sent their request to you.    This is the latest I will allow a client to pay. Ideally, you should be able to collect your fees maybe at the shoot, but when that doesn't work out, for whatever reason, never ever deliver your final products without final payment.  Now you prepare the photos, with a twist in the processing that is uniquely your own of course.  Export them, burn or print -  and the finished products can be on their merry way.  I try to have them sent off, in whatever form, within 3 days of receiving the client's final requests. 

Let your client know that you would like them to contact you when they have arrived safely at their door, and that you would greatly appreciate them leaving some sort of review or testimonial on your website, Facebook page, or other webspace you may operate.  When it's all said and done, you can expect everything to take about a month, from initial contact with your potential client, to receipt of the finished product. 
There you have it. Essentially, that is how I operate, although everything I do, I strive to do better, so like my photographic style, I am sure this process of mine will evolve in time as well. Do you have any hints, tips, or anything else you would like to share regarding the photo-shooting process? 


C Gardiner Photography | Promote Your Page Too