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We're Erica + Jon, professional photographers, Mr + Mrs and Mom + Dad. We like to share insights into our industry, behind the scenes and stories about our life and chips + salsa obsession.

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Why You MUST Plan + Prepare for Brand Shoots

You hear us say time and time again, how important production is for a photoshoot. The process of creating a photo from the initial idea to the end product is truly an art in storytelling, and getting it right feels a lot like that moment you find the PERFECT avocado in the grocery store. Best. Feeling. Ever, right!? As photographers, we always find ways to make it happen. Kind of like how avocado toast seems to always come in clutch 🙂 The art of capturing captivating imagery for our clients goes well beyond pressing buttons on the camera. The nuts and bolts of the production process depend on each other just like our world depended on toilet paper just a couple months ago.

You know we always stress that a successful photoshoot is 50% planning and 50% execution. If you’re a Black Friday shopper or one of the people who desperately needed toilet paper during a global pandemic, you know exactly how this formula works. You spend time planning where to go, figuring out what time will allow you to be the first in line and then…..EXECUTE! The deals and steals always go to the ones who did the work in advance, and this same principle applies for creating the best photoshoot experience for our clients. If the planning isn’t done well, then it will absolutely prohibit you from executing the best you could.

For the longest time we would show up to shoots and just feel frustrated. Not because we didn’t get a Black Friday bundle & save sale on camera gear, but because of not being able to deliver what we wanted to for our clients. We felt like we were disappointing ourselves and clients by ultimately not producing the work we wanted to deliver.

Through recognizing our frustration, we knew we needed to take a step back and look at our entire process. It was important to figure out what it was about our process and client experience that was setting us up for failure. Ultimately, we came to the conclusion that it all came down to planning and styling. In this week’s blog we are going to unpack the importance of why planning and styling are critical to your success as a brand photographer.

We Would Constantly Leave Frustrated and Disappointed 

Our goal is to serve our clients the best we can every single time. Nothing makes us more happy than to deliver a client gallery or getting a rave review response. Not because we need a pat on the back, but rather it lets us know at the end of the day, we served our client the best we could. We provided them with the imagery that they needed to represent their business well and we gave them an all around positive experience. 

When we were not taking the time to plan and prepare our shoots in advance, we were always leaving disappointed. Even during the execution of the shoot, we just weren’t able to grab the images we knew they were after. Whether that was because the location wasn’t quite right, there was a lack of diversity with the props they brought to fully build out the scene or maybe because the client wanted a lot of variety and we didn’t plan or prepare for that. This could be as simple as not having enough wardrobe items for the shoot. After all, we don’t all have a bottomless bag like Mary Poppins…. The fact was that by the end of the shoot, we weren’t able to get them the variety we knew was important to them. All of these situations would come up and we would just leave disappointed. The lack of planning and styling left us feeling like we didn’t serve our clients the best we could and wanted to.

Our Clients Would Leave Disappointed 

When we wouldn’t take the time to focus on planning and preparing, we could tell there would just be an overall mood to the shoot once we got into it. First, it would start with a lack of confidence on our client’s part. There is a level of confidence that comes with just knowing everything is prepared and you have all of the details. Your bases are covered and communication between you and the photographer is on point. When Demi Lovato asks, “What’s wrong with being confident?” You tell her…NOTHING! Confidence is key and allows the client to step into the shoot with more authority to be themselves because they’re not worried about all the details. We would feel this worry and overall lack of confidence on the client’s part and as the shoot went on, if things weren’t planned in advance, we would constantly run into a “WHAT DO WE DO NEXT?” scenario. Like, “What should we shoot next? What is the next theme to prepare for?” Or, “What is the next idea?”

Always remember, our clients are hiring us to tell their story. They will not always be prepared to tell their story…..hence why they hired an awesome photographer like YOU to capture what they are looking for! We would find ourselves doing the same things over and over. Questioning ourselves of “What am I doing?” and let’s face it, it’s an uncomfortable feeling to be in and 100% preventable through planning.

As we left the shoot we would always feel a little bit of a cloud over our head knowing we served our clients the best we could with the circumstances. We made the absolute best with what was there. Made the best out of the location, kept our attitudes positive, uplifting and encouraging…..but there were still missing pieces. We could tell when our clients received their gallery. They liked it, but it only stayed at that level. It wasn’t anything that just floored them over the moon excited. To them it was just checking the boxes, and we knew we had more to offer to our clients.

Always Know There is a Better Way

Invest the time in planning and preparing your shoots with a photographer’s eye. Although your client knows they are on brand with the business they are building, they are not always going to be the best at articulating how that plays into a photoshoot. That is why they are hiring a professional and who knows how to effectively tell a brand story.

As a brand photographer your main primary job is to tell the brand story through images in a way that connects with their ideal client. This is not an inherent skill that the client has. If it was, we would currently be looking into other jobs like maybe becoming a professional food tasters! Chips and salsa?…count us IN! Your clients are RELYING on you for that skill. Gotta love job security 🙂 When we finally identified this as the weak link in our process, we truly started to show up and serve. Execution is great, but everything lies in the details!

Our photo inspirations and locations always felt flat, so we needed to take control of that process. Investing in the planning and preparation was the KEY! This used  to be something that was optional for our clients, but we made it mandatory because we knew without our pre-production services we would not be able to serve our clients like we would like to. We help our clients with location sourcing to plan out locations to match the brand and where lighting will be best, while also helping in creating a shot list and timeline for the shoot. All of these pre-production services are in place to accomplish the goal of ensuring variety for our clients during the shoot. Variety is guaranteed, and with the timeline done well in advance, the photoshoot is able to be efficient for both the photographer and client.

Planning and styling are the key to a successful brand photoshoot, but it is critical to know the importance and what it means to plan through the photographer’s eye. After learning this, we sometimes feel like Julie Andrews needing to shout and sing this from the hills for everyone to know. This was the change we knew we needed for our process to give our clients an unforgettable experience and images that would have them singing our praises! 

If a brand photoshoot that is set up to accomplish your goals, while delivering tons of variety to speak to your ideal client and boosting your brand awareness is something that interests you, click here for more information of what working with us looks like!

If you’re a photographer who keeps feeling this pain point like we did, and find yourself walking away frustrated feeling like you’re not serving your clients the best you can, we have the perfect resource for you. Click here to learn more about our method of planning and styling that results in incredible results for your clients and RAVING reviews. 

After all, it truly is the secret formula.

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