4 Useful tips for your next photo shoot

Design

Photo shoots are great opportunities for capturing bold, creative imagery that is truly one-of-a-kind. Art directors must harmonize the interplay between the photographer, the subject, the location and equipment towards a achieving singular goal. Without proper preparation, there are plenty of opportunities for something to go wrong. As your publication's art director, not only are you in charge of leading the creative and design departments, but you must manage in a way that executes exactly what your executive team—and audience—wants. This often involves directing your magazine's photo shoots under conditions that aren't ideal with less-than enthusiastic subjects and tight deadlines.

Here are four points to consider before you start planning your next magazine photo shoot. Which tips do you find most important for successful shoots?

1. Understand stakeholder objectives and your magazine's brand and vision.

While you're in the early stages of planning, it helps to sit down with a few of your magazine's stakeholders, not just with your editor. You need to wrap your head around the objectives of your executive team, marketing director, donors, and readers. Understanding how to visually execute a story that reconciles differing expectations takes real insight that good art directors have acquired after many years of experience. But as long as you understand that you are creating the brand's vision—and not your own—you can succeed.

2. Create a storyboard or mood board.

It's impossible to create a great photo shoot without considering lighting. Getting this aspect right doesn't start with fine tuning your equipment—it starts with the storyboard. During the storyboard process, have your illustrator draw everything in color so that when it comes time to set up lighting and create the perfect mood, everyone is on the same page. Your storyboard acts as a guide for the whole team, from communicating your idea to executives to making sure your team has been informed of the necessary details.

3. Select the proper photographer, location and model.

Talent is everything. When selecting experts for your shoot, don't underestimate the importance of hiring the best possible people for the job. As DCP’s Creative Director David Bergeron says, “Find a very talented photographer, and beg him or her to work with you. Seriously, it is a little shocking how undervalued good photography has become. It is a true art form that takes technical acuity and talent to be good.” Make sure you choose to work with the best in your field. When you think about the portfolio you are building, take into consideration the names and reputation of those you recruit to work alongside. This way, you’re not just thinking about your current creation; you’re using what’s happening now to positively affect your the future.

4. Creativity within restraint.

Less can be more. If your budget or resources are limited, you can still come up with a great, unique photo shoot that your readers and brand executives will love. Out-of-the-box thinking and a good sense of humor will keep everyone you interact with feeling at ease, which is one of the best ways to see your creations come to life.

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