How to Tuesday #9 - The Anatomy Of An Advertising Photo Shoot : Why Client Meetings, Location Scouting, and Prep Work is so important. part 1 of 2. / by Zack Smith

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Recent Ad Campaigns for Hancock Bank with New Orleans agency, Peter Mayer. 2015 - read more about how we got these images below.

Tellings stories is what we do. Photographers are visual storytellers no matter how you look at it. The world you see and what you have to say is told through the lens of your camera. Over the years you acquire more tangible tools to better construct the story like: lenses, lights and light modifiers, tripods, and better camera bodies. During this time you also learn better ways of improving your creative aesthetic factors such as composition, subject/background agreement, and editing. Aside from the evolution of these technical and aesthetic factors you also have to be aware of how your individual job proficiency is evolving. 

Are you listening deeply to the clients visual problem? Are you using your experience to connect their issues and goals with the talents and tools you bring to the table? "Congrats you got the job!", but are you coordinating the execution and delivery of these images in a cohesive and structured manner? These are some of the situations that I am continually working to improve in my photographic approach to client work and my anatomy of a shoot. I hope to take you through my steps to insure a successful Shoot Prep, Location Scout, Shoot, and Delivery every time.

THE OL' FACE TO FACE

I always make it a point to meet with new clients face to face when we begin the initial planning phases of a photo shoot. No matter how small a job, being able to talk about your clients needs and creative direction in person gives both of you a comfortable setting to plan the logistics of your shoot. Even though all of this can take place on the phone, and usually does with out of town clients, being face to face allows you to read body language, improvise on ideas and enjoy personable dialogue. I always feel more connected to a client when we can meet in person and I suggest that to any photographer with a first time client. This meeting is important for you as the visual problem solver to ask the important questions that are essential to delivering the home run photograph at the end of the day. 

When I first met with the creative team at revered New Orleans ad agency Peter Mayer, there was a general excitement about the room. Their team was looking to create new, personable, yet powerful portraits of the presidents of various Hancock Banks on the Gulf Coast. The goal was to connect the new bank's identity with it's current community and introduce themselves to potential new communities in the Mississippi Gulf Coast region. By using popular landmarks all along the coast, our goal was to connect the human to the land in a comfortable and fun way. My goal here was to ask as many questions as I could about the deliverables (photos to be delivered, edited and finished) like:

- what orientation should we compose the shots? Knowing if they wanted to use horizontal or vertical photos in their layouts would help me later when scouting locations, shoot-time of day, and lighting options.

- what were some lighting Yes's and No No's - how creative or subtle should we go with our lighting and light modifier choices? This answer will give me an idea of how much gear of my own will be used as opposed to what we may need to rent.

- how many days do we have to complete the job and how many people are we shooting? - The Peter Mayer team already had this well laid out. We had a certain number of executives and due to their busy schedules, only a few windows of opportunity to shoot them. In the end, we did a sunrise shoot for one exec, and an afternoon/evening shoot for the other. I was extremely thankful that the PM team had this under control. When planning a large location shoot such as this, it is a relief to know that you have help coordinating talent. You can get bogged down when dealing with these factors let alone everything else on your plate in the coming days.

I left the meeting with a clear idea of what we were going to do, but needed to scout the locations out on the Mississippi coast to know exactly what the chosen locations would look like at the projected times. I can't say enough wonderful things about the Peter Mayer team. Their genuine enthusiasm about their client and their openness for suggestions by me, made me excited for our project. These moments always give me satisfaction in my heart that I love what I do and that I am right where i need to be: being creative in a creative community.

PART 2  - Scouting and Prepping

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I'll See You Next Week for Part 2 of "Anatomy of an Advertising Photo Shoot" where we talk about how to properly scout your locations to ensure you are your best on shoot day! - SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG! Just click the RSS feed above and get your updates how you want them!

Zack