So you just landed a paid gig with a brand and you’ve got to break out your camera for a big photoshoot? First of all, congratulations on your paid work! I remember a few years back, when I first started getting paid work with brands. It was so exciting and I worked so hard for each brand. I still give that same energy to my brand work but now I work a lot smarter. Each brand deal, I learn how to work smarter in my business.
Photoshoots are a big part of brand work. Each brand campaign requires it’s own set of photo requirements and call-outs. How in the world do you remember all the photo requirements you need to take? You use a photoshoot checklist! With proper planning, you can ensure you capture every single required photo. Additionally, you’ll avoid a re-shoot. Yes, a brand can ask you re-take the photos if a required photo is missing or you miss a callout. Capture all the photos correctly and the first time! This will ensure the brand comes back to work with you. Here’s a checklist of all the things you must consider, before you start snapping the camera.
Name of Campaign
The name of the campaign would seem obvious but if you’re managing multiple photoshoots this identifier can save you time. Be sure to call out the name of the campaign on your photoshoot checklist.
The campaign draft due date is important for the photoshoot checklist for a couple of reasons. In order to handle issues that may arise, shooting in advance allows you the time to deal with any issues: bad lighting, camera problems, personal sickness, etc. By having the campaign draft due date on your checklist, you don’t have to fumble through your campaign documents to find it. It will be prominently displayed at the top of your documentation.
Sometimes retailers are the client and sometimes it’s a brand at a specific retailer. Is there a specific retailer that you need to work alongside for this campaign? Ensure you feature them in your photography and state it in your photoshoot documentation. It’s possible that one of your required photos may be to feature in-store photography that highlights the retailer (online or in-store). Carefully read through any retailer specifications and required photography.
Every brand campaign should have a theme, from you or the brand. When you pitched your intial idea, it should have had a theme that will guide your photography and content. Your theme dictates the subjects of your photoshoot, location, and props needed. For example, If I’m creating content for Dollar General (the retailer) about fall baking with my kids, my theme would be “Fall Baking with the Kids”. My subjects would be my kids and I. The location would be the kitchen and the props would be related to fall baking.
Photoshoot props are very important and you’ll want to plan for them when you pitch your idea to a brand. Once your idea is approved, it’s very important that you purchase and gather needed props. I consider props tangible items I need, to create the perfect photography. For example, fall baking with my kids would mean I’d need baking utensils, a mixing bowl, a whisk, and possibly an apron. I check my available photoshoot props and purchase what extra items I need. Some retailers are starting to request any props to be from their store only. Watch for this call-out too!
Business Tip: If you use photoshoot props strictly for businesses purposes, it’s a tax write-off.
Where will the photoshoot take place? If the answer is multiple locations, then ensure those spaces are prepped BEFORE the photoshoot. Look through your camera lens and see what the camera sees. This will let you adjust your location so that only what is important is in the photography. That may mean pushing some things aside and out of view. I’ve been known to have my normal chaos out of view but you’d never know. List all of your photoshoot locations and prep them beforehand.
The Star of the Show = Product
Are you featuring a product in your photoshoot? Don’t forget to shop for it as soon as you get a campaign approval. Reach out to your campaign manager if you cannot find it. They will provide guidance on how to retrieve it. If the brand is shipping product to you, then you’ll be at the mercy of the mail carrier. Any delay in timeline should be immediately conveyed to your campaign manager. When purchasing a product, double-check that it is exactly the one requested to feature. Any variances in variety are important to note and will help avoid a re-shoot. Remember: Work smarter, not harder.
Clothing / Hair / Makeup / Nails
If you’ll be featuring subjects in your photography, attention must be given to clothing, hair, makeup, and nails. Small details make a big difference in photography. If your clothing looks worn or is wrinkled, it will show. Additionally, take into account the brand image, the location, and activity of the content you’re creating – for clothing ideas. Clothing for a fall baking photoshoot would include fall sweaters/cardigan or at the very least fall colors. Colors are an easy way to tell a content story so think about what story you can tell with the color of clothing you have on. Ensure clothing is appropriate for your audience and the brand.
Give attention to your hair, apply makeup when needed, and don’t forget your nails. Chipped nails never look good in photography so give them attention. Some brands callout nails in their photography, specifically stating, to ensure your nails are tidy with no hangnails or chipped paint. Prep all your personal grooming well BEFORE the photoshoot. If others will be featured in the content, the same rules apply to them as well.
Almost always, a brand will callout DOs and DON’Ts for photography. They have rules/guidelines set forth and you must abide by them too. In addition to standard things like “no other brands mentioned or shown” there are sometimes other callouts. Some potential WATCH OUTS could be “No kids under 18 w/o parent”, “No low cut pajamas”, and “No props from other retailers”. It’s important that you don’t forget these callouts for photoshoots so state them on your checklist. When it’s time to shoot the photography, you’ll be reminded of any callouts, without having to sift through your campaign documentation.
List each specific photo
This is a very important part of your photoshoot checklist. List each specific photo that is requested from the brand or create your own set of needed photos. Include the subjects, products, location, and props needed for each photo. These details will ensure you capture all brand required photos. A minimum amount of specific photos is normally set forth in your campaign. I always provide more photos than is required though. If you go over and beyond brands will take note. However, at the very minimum, provide the required photos exactly like the brand requests.
A brand photoshoot is a big deal, every single time. However, you can work smarter with a photoshoot checklist. A photoshoot checklist will ensure you don’t forget any details and that you’re providing the brand everything they requested. Remember, instead of creating a billboard or hiring another creator, a brand hired you to create amazing content. They are hiring you to market for them so don’t skimp on any details. Give it your very best and I promise, they will hire you again.
What’s one thing you always have on your photoshoot checklist? Let me know in the comments below.