In a fast-paced, DIY marketing world, it’s tempting to skip the painstaking process of a professional photo shoot. We have cameras on our phones. Google has an image search function. And stock photography providers like Shutterstock offer an almost countless variety of images for relatively little money.
But while these shortcuts generally work if you’re in a pinch, they don’t give you anywhere near the creative flexibility that’s needed to differentiate your brand.
A professional photo shoot isn’t cheap, but we firmly believe it brings unparalleled value to a brand or campaign. Need convincing? Here are five reasons why you should consider making the effort, followed by five ways to have a great shoot.
Why Arrange a Photo Shoot?
- You can’t find the right images in stock photography.
Sometimes you just can’t find what you need. Maybe you’re looking for a specific setting or mix of subjects. Maybe nothing quite matches the idea you have in your head. Either way, hiring a photographer gives you control over the images so you can get exactly the right shots.
- It differentiates your brand from the competition.
Okay, so you found stock images that work. But how well do they work? Using a distinctive photography style with unique and consistent lighting, tone, angle, and composition sets your brand apart. Take a look at the guide for British Columbia’s tourism brand. It dedicates 40+ pages just to photography. That means every single image their marketing team uses is visually similar—and immediately identifiable as part of the brand.
- You won’t accidentally use the same image as a competitor.
Ever have that feeling of déjà vu when you see an ad and you know you’ve seen those people before? Of course—the same photo was in another company’s ad. There’s only so much stock photography out there. But photos from a custom shoot are completely unique.
- It’s more authentic.
To connect on a deep level with your audience, your brand needs authenticity. That means real people or products in real situations and settings. And you can only get that with a photo shoot.
- It’s more cost-effective than stock for larger quantities of images.
With higher-quality stock photography topping $500 per high-resolution image, it can often save quite a bit of budget to hire a photographer. Depending on your metro area, day rates for pros can start around $2,000. And that should net you at least a dozen high-quality shots.
How to Ensure a Good Photo Shoot
- Plan, plan, plan. Then plan some more.
Know how and where your images will be used before you even book the shoot. Website? Brochure? Social media? Campaign? Do you need copy space in certain areas? Do you plan to use color or black and white imagery? Choose locations and models or products needed. Find reference images that reflect the style and composition you want. Heck, bring the creative comps while you’re at it. (You did make comps, right?) Create a shot list and schedule, and give everyone involved a copy. Twice. If it can be planned, plan it, and do it well in advance.
- Have a creative professional on-site to art direct.
This may be your photographer if you’re on a tight budget, and many are excellent at serving double duty. But if you’re working with a design or marketing agency, having one of their creatives at the shoot will ensure they get what they need to do great work for you. It’ll also free you up to manage personnel, locations, and timing.
About the style you want. About the shots you want. About the day, time, and location(s). Do it early and often. On-site, make sure the photographer is reviewing shots in-camera with you and/or the person art directing. Bottom line: there’s no such thing as too much communication.
- Be flexible and stay positive.
Sometimes it rains for an outdoor shoot. Sometimes models can’t make it, or equipment breaks. Remember Murphy’s Law and expect the unexpected, then roll with it! Having a backup plan and a smile makes it easier to deal with the inevitable rough spots.
- Remember to take care of yourself!
It’s going to be a long day. Dress for it with clothes you can move in, comfortable shoes, and layers to adjust to the weather. Get plenty of sleep the night before, and eat a good breakfast. Better yet, be the hero who brings bagels and coffee. Pack a lunch if it’s not provided, as well as snacks and plenty of water.
Take our word for it—photo shoots are no easy feat. But with the right photographer, art direction, and attitude, they’ll provide you with unique, brand-defining images you can use in innumerable ways.
And no one will ever say, “Hey, I’ve seen that picture before” about your ad campaign or website again.