Working to a photo brief
Working to a photo brief is the number one essential for a commercial photographer. Actually, meeting, and trying to exceed, the brief are the essentials, but you know what I mean.
A lot of people aren’t clear what a photo brief is, so I thought I’d try to talk about how useful they are. Basically, it’s an outline from the client of the photos they want you to take, including what they’ll be used for and where they might be shown. Those are the essential ingredients that allow a professional photographer to figure out the best photos for the purpose.
If you’re a business that sells shoes, for instance, it’s no good telling me you want some photos of your latest line of trainers. Because there are a million ways of photographing them, most of which will be inappropriate for the purpose you have in mind. If you want to sell them on eBay, then you’ll want them photographed in a studio, on a white background, showing each side, the front and back, the tread on the sole, close ups of any special details, and so on. Your objective is to sell them so you want photos that are a substitute for people being able to handle them and look at them in a shop. If, however, you’re planning a nationwide campaign to promote your new trainers you might want photos of them being worn – which leads to further questions. Are they fashion or for sport? Shall we shoot in a gym, or out on the street? What age should the model be (clue: they should embody the target market). Do we light them in a really funky way in the studio, so they look like fashion items?
So you see, getting great photos of trainers needs a lot of thought and work before a camera is even picked up!
That’s what a good photo brief does. It sets out what the purpose of the images are; who they’re aiming at; where they’ll be used; what mood or atmosphere or emotion they are attempting to create. Hard work, but well worth it for the end result.
Here’s an example from a recent shoot. Knitwire are a North West based company that make knitted mesh industrial parts, and they wanted some new products photographing for their website. The brief was to match the photos already on it, which were studio shots on a black background. Pretty easy in this instance, as there were existing photos as a reference. But without that knowledge (i.e. without that brief) what would have stopped me shooting on white, or a light colour, or in an industrial setting?
So, you can see, the photo brief is the essential starting point for any job. It means that I’m on the same page as the client from the start. Of course, there’s scope to add to the brief (the close up shots were my suggestion), but it’s great to know that the essentials have been covered.
I’m shooting more product photography these days – everything from industrial parts to kitchenware. Whether it’s a simple ‘white background’ e-commerce shoot or something that needs more art direction, I’m happy to chat about what you need. Either fill in the contact form or give me a call on 07766 815703.