Tag Archives: commercial photography

Top Five Photo Shoot Pitfalls To Avoid

Photo shoot pitfalls to avoid-Behind the Scenes.

The top five mistakes I’ve seen happen on shoots and how to avoid them

As a creative, you already have a lot on your plate, and now you need to do a photo shoot. There are many aspects of a photo shoot that have to come together just right in order to get the best possible images and make sure your investment pays off. Even some of the smallest things can derail a shoot and leave everyone scrambling. I wanted to share a few things that I’ve learned over my career to help you put together a perfect photo shoot. Here are the top five mistakes I’ve seen or experienced and some tips on how to overcome them.

Choosing the Wrong Photographer

There are a lot of photographers around, but not every photographer is the same. It can be hard to know who to trust with your photo shoot. As creative people, we like to work with people we know or with whom we have a connection. However, choosing the right photographer for the project is critical, and just because you know someone who is a photographer doesn’t necessarily make them qualified for the job. Experience and vision are key to making a photo shoot successful.

Here are a few suggestions for selecting a great photographer. Do some research and ask other peers about photographers they like. This is a great place to start. Pay close attention to style, production value, and the overall look and feel of the work. Also, consider the feeling the images convey. Does all that match what you need? Most commercial photographers have one or two specialties and choosing the photographer with the images that reflect the look and feel you are going for will be something to consider closely.

Next, evaluate which photographer best matches your budget and usage needs. The tendency can be to pick a photographer based on price alone but this can cause major problems come shoot day. A good idea is to discuss the photographer’s experience, approach, equipment and crew requirements. In addition, an in-person portfolio review can be the best way to ask questions and see a photographer’s personality, and really get a feel for what it would be like to work with them. The extra time you take selecting the perfect photographer will pay off in the end.

Cutting the Budget in the Wrong Places

This can kill a shoot before it even gets off the ground. Everyone’s budgets are tight these days. We are all being asked to do more for less and everyone is looking for the best options at the best price. It’s important, and even critical, to understand where you can cut and trim and where you need to keep money in place to make sure everything goes smoothly. There does come a point where cutting things too much can cause serious problems on shoot day.

Some ways to trim the budget without sacrificing the quality of the shoot is by shooting fewer shots, fewer days, shooting locally, or evaluating crew needs. All this needs to be clearly communicated so everyone is on the same page come shoot day. A good photographer will ask lots of questions about the number of images they need to produce during a shoot day, how the images will be used, what client and agency expectations are, etc. Together with your photographer, you can find a good balance between quality and cost.

Miscalculating Time for Shots

This is one trap that I think everyone has fallen into, even myself. With budgets tight and clients often wanting stills and video shot together at the same time, being realistic about time requirements is critical. People tend to under-estimate how long it takes to shoot. It all comes down to making sure expectations are discussed and communicated.

As a photographer, I spend a lot of time trying to set realistic time constraints. Deciding in advance what shots are the most critical is important. Then if there is time, you can add in some extra shots. I suggest having a shot list with a list of “must haves” and then “extra shots” with time allocated to each of the critical shots. Setting locked in times when we move onto another shot or location is also important. This should all be done during a pre-production call or meeting. My philosophy is to provide clients with the most high-quality images possible, and trying to cram in too many shots in a single day can compromise that quality.

Not Having the Right Wardrobe

This is something that most people think about before the shoot but I’ve seen it fall through the cracks often. You can be in the perfect location with the perfect model and the most amazing light, but if the model is wearing the wrong clothes it will definitely kill the shot. You may be tempted to rely on talent to bring the right clothes. Doing so can cause problems unless things are communicated to the talent correctly. I always tell talent to text me pictures of what they are going to bring so I can see it beforehand, then I know what they have and we can buy something before the shoot to make sure we have what we need. Usually, you will need to go buy a few things to make sure everything comes together properly. Having a wardrobe stylist that can provide the talent with a full wardrobe is always the ideal, but not always in the budget. With careful planning, any potential wardrobe problems can be addressed and solved before the shoot. For most

I always tell talent to text me pictures of what they are going to bring so I can see it beforehand, then I know what they have and we can buy something before the shoot to make sure we have what we need. Usually, you will need to go buy a few things to make sure everything comes together properly. Having a wardrobe stylist that can provide the talent with a full wardrobe is always the ideal, but not always in the budget. With careful planning, any potential wardrobe problems can be addressed and solved before the shoot. For most shoots the combination of talent supplied wardrobe along with some supplemental purchases is ideal.

Choosing the Wrong Models

The last thing to keep in mind is where and how to get your talent for your shoot. There are times when you can use employees or friends but that often takes much longer to coordinate and sometimes doesn’t bring about the best results. In my experience, if you are shooting something specific about employees then use them, but that’s about the only time it makes sense.

Finding the right talent for a shoot can be a lot more time consuming and difficult than most people think. It’s critical to match the type of talent with the type of shoot you are doing. If you need to shoot a running shot make sure you have an actual runner, not just a pretty face. If you doing a lifestyle shot, make sure the models look good together and look believable, etc. Seems pretty simple, but the wrong model can really make the shoot much more difficult. On the other hand, the right model gives you exactly what you need and makes the shoot go much smoother.

I recommend developing a relationship with a few modeling agencies in your area and reaching out to them every time you have a project come up. That way you can see who they have to match your specific needs. Also look into specialty agencies to get exactly what you need.

Conclusion

I hope you find these tips helpful and that you can learn from what I’ve experienced over the years. Avoiding these five pitfalls on your next photo shoot will help ensure success.  If you have any questions or would like to reach out to discuss your next upcoming project, please reach out to me at brandon@brandonflint.com or call me at 801-875-8620. You can see my work at www.brandonflint.com and follow me on instagram at brandonflint_.

Active Families Needed!!

Want to get paid to have professional pictures of your family taken outdoors?

I just got an assignment to produce a series of family-centered recreational activities shot in Utah. I need active families to photograph for this assignment. They following criteria must be met for the current assignments (more assignments coming so let any families know):

Camping

  • Kids ranging from ages 5-15ish
  • Camping at Bear Lake over one night

Boating

  • Any Lake in Utah
  • Must already have a boat
  • Kids ranging from ages 5-15ish

All participants must be able to sign a model release or have a parent sign for them. I will cover all travel expenses and will pay each family $200 along with copies of the photos. I also have about 6 other family-centered shoots coming up over the next two months so I need lots of families. If you are a family or know of a family looking for an all-expense paid adventure please fill out the form below or feel free to email me at brandon@brandonflint.com or call 801-875-8620.

Deadline is Monday Aug. 29th


Active Families-Grandma and kids in a Hammock

Active Families Needed

Dream Shoot-Athlete & Model Lauren Collins

Photograph of Model and Athlete Lauren Collins

As a photographer you always have a person in mind that you would love to photograph. For some its a celebrity or a supermodel others a politician or movie star. Usually it’s someone that you have seen in magazines, ads,  on TV, or a movie and thought to yourself “that would be so rad to get shots of…..” For me that person has been athlete and model Lauren Collins. You may not recognize the name but if you have ever thumbed through an Athleta catalog, a Shape magazine, a recent Eddie Bauer ad, and many other campaigns you probably recognize her. In my opinion she is the top athletic model in the country. She is not only amazingly beautiful but is a former decathlete so she has the movement and the strength to back it up. Ever since I started shooting active lifestyle and sports images I’d seen shots of her and thought it would be amazing to get the opportunity to photograph her. Honestly though, I didn’t ever think it would happen, but I recently had the opportunity to just that, and it was epic. This is how it happened.

Over the last few months I’ve been trying to build a network of people and places that I can shoot for in LA as an effort to broaden my client base and extend into new markets. That effort brought me to a meeting with It Model Management based in Orange County.  They are one of Lauren’s agencies. While meeting with the owners Marlyn and Linda, I mentioned that I’ve always wanted to photograph Lauren. They said she  happened to be in town and they called her right there on the spot and asked her if she would like to do a shoot with me. To my amazement she agreed and the agency told her I would would be in touch to coordinate everything for the follow day. I tried to play it cool at the time but once I got out of the meeting I exploded with excitement. In the meeting with me was with my friend and amazingly talented hair and make up artist Donna Gast. In the excitement I walked out into the parking lot and I looked at Donna and said “Well, what are we going to do with her?”

About then is when I started to feel the pressure. I knew that I may not have another opportunity to shoot her so we needed to come up with a good concept for the shoot. Part of the the agreement to shoot her was both the agency and Lauren wanted more of a lifestyle shoot, not another fitness shoot. Lauren has tons of athletic shots and she needed more lifestyle shots. We started with that.  Donna had the idea of shooting her in white on her bed just really beautiful and clean. I loved the idea but I had to get Lauren to agree to it. I laughed and told Donna “Wait, you want me to call Lauren Collins and see if we can shoot her at her house in her bedroom on her bed?” I said ok and made the call. Lauren answered and I introduced myself and told her how excited I was to work with her etc. I then told her our idea and I said “we want to shoot you at your house to make it easy for you and we want to get shots of you in just a white top and some white bottoms in your bedroom on your bed. How would feel about that?” I waited and could tell she was uncomfortable. She asked something along the lines of  “your not trying to do some sexy shot are you because that’s not me.”  I reassured her that I wasn’t trying to do anything sexy, that and that I don’t shoot that way either,  but just something simple, clean and beautiful. Once I said that she was ok and totally down. We set up the time and got her address and that was it. We were all set for the following morning at 7am. I kept on thinking “Am I really shooting Lauren Collins tomorrow morning”? Still felt like a dream.

That night I’m not going to lie, I was a bit nervous. She was by far the biggest model I had ever worked with and I wasn’t sure what to expect. She seemed nice on the phone but I’ve learned thats not much of an indicator. The next morning Donna and I drove down from LA to Lauren’s house in Orange County. I meet her and realized right away that she was going to be really great to work with.  We got really beautiful shots of her on the bed, a few nice portraits, and and the end she let me get a few shots of her at track not far from her house in doing some fitness stuff. The light wasn’t ideal at the track, but I knew I’d be walking away with some solid shots after the shoot, and more importantly, different shots than anyone else had of her.

All in all it was great experience. Lauren ended up being one of my favorite people I’ve ever photographed not only because she is a great model but she is one of the nicest and sweetest people I’ve ever worked with. It is a good feeling to see your hard work, a little risk taking, and perseverance pay off. I know it sounds so cliche but being able to get shots of  Lauren really was like a dream shoot come true me.

If you didn’t have to worry about money, a client, or anything else for a shoot who would you want to photograph? Go make it happen!

Special Thanks to Lauren Collins, Marlyn and Linda at It Model Management, and the amazing Donna Gast for always believing that we can create something great.

Photography of Athlete and Model Lauren Collins

Photograph of Model and Athlete Lauren Collins

Photograph of Model and Athlete Lauren CollinsPhotograph of Model and Athlete Lauren Collins

Photograph of Model and Athlete Lauren Collins

Photograph of Model and Athlete Lauren Collins

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Photograph of Model and Athlete Lauren Collins

Photograph of Model and Athlete Lauren Collins

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Photograph of Model and Athlete Lauren Collins

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Photograph of Model and Athlete Lauren Collins

 

Five Tips for Shooting with Video Crews

Now days it’s easy to find yourself shooting various projects in conjunction with video production crews. Agencies and companies like to do this because they can shoot both print stills and TV commercials at the same time. This not only allows for a consistent look and feel for the entire campaign, but it typically is cheaper for them to just overlap the two instead of doing two separate shoots. Photographing in these situations can be challenging for photographers. Here are a five tips to get what you need and keep everyone happy on set.

Behind the Scenes Brandon FlintOne of my favorite clients that I shoot for often is almost always in conjunction with a video production crew.  Sometimes that crew is big and sometimes it’s small. I’ve had to learn to adapt to this working environment for shoots. It can definitely become harder to get the shots you need in the amount of time you are given, in these types of shoots. Here are a few things I’ve learned with my shoots when video is on set also.

#1- As the photographer, you most likely aren’t going to have much say in things before the shoot. In my experience, the video production company and the agency is doing all the pre-production, casting, scouting etc.  As the photographer on these types of shoots, you pretty much have to bring the equipment and necessary crew you think you will need and make it happen. Generally you will know where and what types of situations you will be shooting in,  but rarely will you get to scout them out beforehand.

#2- I hate to break it to you, but the video takes precedent over the stills. This can be hard for us photographers because on a normal stills-only shoot, you are the one calling the shots, but that’s not usually the case here. Video takes more time and is more expensive to shoot, so that typically has priority. That doesn’t mean that what you, as the photographer, shoot doesn’t have value or is less important. The client and the agency still expect you to get great shots. It just means that you have less time with more pressure. You will still be able to direct talent, find the best spot to shoot to an extent, and do what you normally would do; but you usually only have about 10-20 min per shot to do it.

Behind the Scenes with Brandon Flint#3- Depending on who the director for the video is, can make your job easier or more difficult. I’ve worked with directors who tried really hard to get me the time I needed to get my shots and others where I’ve felt like I’ve have to fight for every shot, which is hard.  When that happens you still have to get the shots you need, but be respectful and good to work with, even if the director is making it difficult. Try to be flexible and not get irritated, even if things aren’t going exactly how you want. In order to keep everything going smoothly on set you just have to kind-of go with the flow on these types of shoots. I’ve learned getting frustrated doesn’t help at all. You just have to get in there, do the best you can and make things happen. Even if its not the best time of day, you don’t have the time you want, the talent are already tired, etc….

#4- There is going to be a lot of down time for you. Make yourself and your team useful and get shots where you can. Have lighting preset as much as possible. I’ve always tried to get shots in between takes or if they aren’t shooting audio at the same time they are shooting. This just gives the client more options since most of the time they aren’t exactly sure what they want or how they want to use the stills. I’ve found using a telephoto lens and just getting back and out of the way is a great way to pick up extra shots and keep everyone happy.

#5- Lastly, try and piggyback off the video lighting as much as possible. This will save you time and keep a consistent look for the client.  As much as you can, talk to the director and key grip to see when you can use the existing video lighting to shoot with. Most of them time this will work unless video is moving to a new location. In my experience, using what is there already and adding a single strobe with an umbrella or something quick can get great results quickly. I’ve found allowing video to shoot first, then me second, keeps everything on schedule. There are times when you can shoot while video is setting up, just be aware of what will work and won’t work for each set up.

Behind the scenes with Brandon FlintHope that helps and here a just a few side notes. I’ve had to put myself in the shoes of the director and try to be more understanding. Most of the time the production company doesn’t even know that I’m going to be on set shooting until sometimes a few days beforehand. They have planned the shoot out to make sure they can get what they need and then I show up and tell them I need to get shots also, which can make their jobs more difficult. Be mindful of their needs and in most cases they will do the same in return. Keep in contact with the producer. They can let you know what is coming up and what to expect. Work hard and shoot as much as you can and as quickly as you can and the client and the agency will be happy and want to use you again. When done right, shooting stills and video can be a fun, collaborative effort!

Enjoy and, as always, thanks for checking it out!