A 6-Step Prescription for Pain-Free Photo Shoots
Patient: "Doc, our photo shoots are painful. They go too slow, we can't get what we want and we end up having to do reshoots. How can we reduce our photo shoot pain?"
Catalog Doctor: "Photo shoots needn't be painful. Good planning can turn them into a pleasure. Here's a six-step prescription for making your photo shoots pain-free."
1. Pin down winner and loser shots. Go through your catalog and circle what shots you like and don't like. Then tear out pages from other catalogs and magazines of shots you like. You needn't stick to your product categories.
2. Post-mortem meeting. Bring samples of the photos you like to a meeting with your photographer and stylist. Ask them to help identify consistent traits of the photos you do and don't like. The differences could be lighting, camera angle, props, styling or a combination of factors. Studios love the chance for meetings like this because it gives them tools to keep you happy — helping them win your business again.
3. Build a "shot book." Before your next photo shoot, fill a three-ring binder with one sheet for each product. Fill in any data you already know — what's left you'll fill in at the pre-shoot meeting, which I detail below. This data includes:
- product name;
- image name (this will help you find it quickly in your image bank for future use);
- how many shots — front, back, pockets, etc.;
- type of shot — e.g., silhouette, square cut; and
- are props needed?
If your designer pre-designs the photo layout (many designers do not), include a printout of the layout. Bring samples of similar product shots to show what you do and don't like.
4. Pre-shoot meeting. A week to two weeks before your photo shoot (more if using models), meet with your studio crew. Bring product samples or snapshots, as well as your shot book. Explain your goals for each product. Ask your stylist and photographer for their thoughts on styling, lighting, props and how many shots are needed to best sell each product. Add each decision to your shot book. When complete, give a copy of your shot book to the studio.
Susan J. McIntyre is Founder and Chief Strategist of McIntyre Direct, a catalog agency and consultancy in Portland, Oregon offering complete creative, strategic, circulation and production services since 1991. Susan's broad experience with cataloging in multi-channel environments, plus her common-sense, bottom-line approach, have won clients from Vermont Country Store to Nautilus to C.C. Filson. A three-time ECHO award winner, McIntyre has addressed marketers in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, has written and been quoted in publications worldwide, and is a regular columnist for Retail Online Integration magazine and ACMA. She can be reached at 503-286-1400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.