The Power of Preproduction in commercial photography

Have you  ever wondered why some commercial photo shoots go more smoothly than others?

Well, I have a theory that involves three reasons. The first is pre-production on the part of the commercial photographer, his crew and his producer. The second is pre-production on the part of the agency. The third is the pre-production on the part of the client. All these factions must work together. The client must have a clear idea of what is needed from them and provide the info, product and support. The agency has to pass that info along to the commercial photographer, along with their needs, creative expectations, time frames, along with usage and reproduction rights. With this info the photographer and crew go into action. The more time the photographer puts into pre-production the smoother the shoot will be executed and delivered.

We break our production up into three basic segments.

First Segment: The Photographer handles the technical end and his photo crew. Checks all gear, rentals, locations, communicates with the Art Director and Art Buyer. He creates the schedule for maximum efficiency. This includes time of day for optimum lighting conditions and  works with the producer to schedule talent so as not to waste model time. He and the producer are the team at the top.

Second Segment: The Producer handles all the nit-picky details of the shoot. This segment is the KEY. He or she handles everything. Hiring talent, hiring location scouts and securing locations, food stylist, permits, catering, snacks, drinks, production assistants, motor homes, security, etc. The list is endless. He or she must also stay in constant contact with the agency and be flexible enough to handle any last minute curve balls, of which there may be many in a game.

Third Segment: The Stylist is responsible for what goes in front of the camera and how it looks. On a large job I like the Stylist to be responsible for the wardrobe and the props. He or she may hire one person for wardrobe and another for props. They must stay in constant contact with the Art Director to insure creative cohesion. Again flexibility is a must. Things can change rapidly and often do.

This is how I approach every shoot. Some shoots involve more tasks, some shoots involve less, but the basic principles are the same. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or feel free to leave a comment below!

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