Commercial Photography: 5 Tips To Get The Most Out Of A Photo Shoot

Congratulations! You finally got your boss to sign off on hiring a professional to fulfill your company’s commercial photography needs. This is undeniably the best way to get top quality, original photographs to represent your company both in print and digital media. For example, research by the Content Marketing Institute shows that posts with images get 2.3 times more engagement on Facebook; however, the images that perform best are those that are bright, clear, lively, and original, which may not be possible with stock photography. 

Now that you’ve gotten the green light, it’s imperative that your company get the most bang for its buck, right? After all, you don’t want the boss to regret allocating this money. No worries! Follow these 5 tips to get the most out of your commercial photography photo shoot. 

Bonus Tip: As you read, don’t be intimidated! Keep in mind that your photographer also wants this project to be a total success, so if you have questions or need advice, don’t hesitate to ask him or her. 

#1 - Know what you need

Before hiring a photographer, you need to have a deep understanding of what you want to get out of the photo shoot. In other words, what is the goal? What do you want to have at the end of the day? 
Obviously, the broad goal is to get usable photographs that accurately represent your company along with its products and/or services. However, more specifically, you’ll need to ask yourself two questions: 

  1. What do we want pictures of? For example, if you’re a restaurant, do you want a picture of every single dish on the menu or just the most popular or newest menu items? 
  2. How will these pictures be used? Different sizes and compositions work best on different platforms. For example, often, on social media, the pictures that do best are those that appear more organic, less staged. However, you probably wouldn’t use a picture like that for a magazine ad. 
Plan out, in detail, how many different pictures you need and how they will be used. Not only will this ensure you get usable end products, but it will be necessary to get an accurate quote from a commercial photographer. 
Bonus Tip: Try to get a fair number of evergreen photographs, meaning photos that can be used indefinitely. While it’s great to get pictures of seasonal menu items or team members, you want to make sure you have enough imagery to fall back on when things change. 

#2 - Do your homework 

Now that you have a budget for commercial photography, you’re probably eager to get started; however, don’t rush out and hire the first photographer you can find. Do your homework. Take your time. Following all of the other tips in this article won’t be enough to save the photo shoot if you hire an incompetent photographer. Here are some things you should do before making a final decision: 

  • Look for photographers that specialize in commercial photography. Commercial photography is a special niche and not all photographers are experienced in this area. 
  • Ask your business network for recommendations. For example, post on LinkedIn, a great professional social media platform, asking for referrals to local commercial photographers. 
  • Read independent reviews. Look up potential commercial photographers on sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp. Don’t just go by the star ratings; rather, actually read the reviews and look for red flags. 
  • Review a photographer’s commercial photography portfolio. Don’t just take someone else’s word for it. Get a feel for the photographer’s work on your own by looking through their portfolio. 
Once you’ve cultivated a short list of potential commercial photographers, call them and “interview” them. Ask questions, a lot of questions. Get a feel for their working style and experience. 

#3 - Schedule an initial walk-through 

Once you’ve hired a commercial photographer, don’t schedule a photo shoot for the next day. Rushing into the photo shoot may negatively affect the quality of the photographs. Instead, once you’ve hired a commercial photographer, schedule a walk-through of your business. 

A walk-through will allow the photographer to see what he or she will be working with. For example, he or she will be able to see what the lighting is like and whether adjustments need to be made. Having this advanced knowledge of the environment will help ensure things go smoothly on the day of the actual photo shoot. 

Bonus Tip: If the idea of a walk-through has you stressed, take a deep breath. The walk-through isn’t a huge deal. You don’t need to shut down the company or have everyone who will be in the photo shoot present. This is just a quick sneak peek the photographer takes of the environment. The exact amount of time needed will depend on how many different settings you’re planning to have photographed, but usually, an hour is plenty of time, so no need to block off your whole day! 

#4 - It’s never too early to start prepping 

At this point, you should have a scheduled photo shoot date. Hopefully, it’s still a little bit in the future (versus being tomorrow). Now it’s time to start preparing the company, including the environment and other employees. 
When it comes to the environment, you’ll want to consider each area that will be included in the photo shoot. These areas may need to be tidied up, cleaned, or maybe even rearranged to maximize visual appeal and lighting. For example, if you’re having office space photographed you probably don’t want to show a bunch of cluttered desks littered with personal items. 

Another aspect of the environment to consider is who and/or what will be in the photos. For instance, if you’re a medical clinic, would photographs reveal patients, even in the background? If so, there are HIPPA guidelines to consider and those individuals would most likely need to sign legal waivers allowing you to use their likeness in a commercial way. 

Of equal importance in your prep work, is other employees. Even employees that are not going to be involved or featured in the photo shoot may be affected by it. For example, employees may not be able to access certain areas of the building on the day of the photo shoot without interrupting the process. Warn them in advance so they can make other arrangements.

Employees that will be involved in the commercial photography photo shoot should be given ample time to prepare. Let them know the date and the time of the photo shoot as well as what you expect from them. How should they dress? From a time standpoint, what should they expect? 

Emails sent out to the different groups of employees is a great way to kick the conversation off, but don’t just leave it at that. Some inboxes are black holes, meaning you can’t rely on all employees to read and fully understand your email. Send calendar invites, send follow up reminders, post flyers in the break room, or schedule a quick check-in meeting to make sure everyone is on the same page. 

#5 - Hope for the best, plan for the worst 

If you’ve followed tips 1 through 4, you should be well on your way to an outstanding commercial photography photo shoot. However, at any moment something could go wrong. That’s why you should plan for the worst. Take some time to make a list of possible curve balls that could throw everything off course. Remember, no detail is too small. 

For example, what if you are featuring a few employees in your photos and they show up with super chipped nail polish or someone spills coffee on their shirt first thing in the morning? Plan for wardrobe malfunctions. Plan for employees to have forgotten that a photo shoot is taking place. If employees are wearing some sort of uniform (like scrubs or a logo polo), have extras on hand the day of the photo shoot so they can easily change if needed. Otherwise, have someone on standby that can run out and get things that are needed at a moment’s notice. 

In addition, have alternative shots in mind. For example, maybe you were going to do a company wide photo outside the building, but now it’s pouring rain. What are you going to do? Have a backup locale in mind so that you can still get all of your important shots. 

Bonus Tip: While these 5 tips seem like a lot to add to your to-do list, keep in mind that you don’t do them all at once. Simply take them one by one and ask for help from your boss, coworkers, or photographer if you need it. Don’t worry, you’ve got this! 

Commercial photography is a great way to showcase everything your business has to offer, both in traditional and digital media. While it takes a lot more effort than just purchasing stock photos or snapping a quick shot with your iPhone, the payoff is definitely worth it. Use these tips to guide you through the commercial photography process and ensure you get amazing end product pictures! 

Have more questions about the commercial photography process or want to schedule a consultation? Contact me now.