How to brief a commercial photographer

Get the best results from your shoot with a clear photography brief

Writing a brief for your photographer doesn’t have to be scary. And if you’ve never written one before, I’m here to help!

Put simply, a photography ‘brief’ is an outline of your overall goals, any specific requests and an explanation of the ‘type’ of imagery you require from your photo shoot.

It can also contain some background information about you and your business, including your target audience(s); which is a great way to ensure that I, or any commercial photographer, fully understands what you hope to achieve and can produce images that really hit the spot!

What to include in your photography brief

I’ve listed some examples below of the type of information a commercial photographer like myself would find really useful prior to picking up the camera.

The last thing I, or anyone within my profession, would want is to deliver a set of images that don’t quite meet your expectations or that you dislike. This is a key reason why I always take time to really understand your business before embarking on any photography project.

Have a clear goal

Write down what are you hoping to achieve from your photography project.

For example: Is your goal to highlight a new product range and entice potential customers to buy?; are you hoping to inspire colleagues with an internal ‘good news story’?; or is your goal to boost brand awareness?

Put your images in context

Depending on your goals, you may have a clear idea of where you wish to use your photographs and the purpose of each one. You may be looking for lots of images you can keep on file to use in blog posts or PR announcements for example. Or your images may be destined for use within a particular marketing campaign and therefore need to follow a theme.

If you are refreshing your website and marketing literature you will want to ensure consistency across both platforms, so please do mention the ‘bigger picture’ within your brief. The more information you can give, the more your images will live up to expectations.

Beware the one-dimensional ‘list’

Be wary of simply handing over a list of photos you require, with no explanation behind them. Understanding how you plan to use your photos will ensure I select the right equipment for the job. Cameras, lenses settings and styles can differ greatly depending on the look, feel and format you require.

During my career as a professional photographer, I have worked with a wide range of businesses on a number different projects so can use this experience to help advise you on anything you are unsure of. So even if you are not 100% confident that you know what you want, we’ll simply chat it through and devise the perfect shoot together.

Mention little touches in your photography brief

Don’t forget to mention those little touches in your photography brief.

Include examples

Whether you decide to get creative and put together a mood board full of ideas, or simply include some example of photographs you like, examples are a great way to showcase what you are after.

These don’t necessarily have to be images of the same products or services, and could even be stock imagery that you have seen. Examples could simply reflect a particular style or lighting effect you like too.

And don’t forget to include examples of images you don’t like. If your company prides itself on its informal, relaxed way of communication with customers for example, the last thing you want is a very corporate image of shaking hands and formal scenes.

Share your brand guidelines

If you have brand guidelines for your company – including information about specific fonts and typography, any particular colours you use in your logos and design materials, or any particular words and phrases you use to describe your company – share them!

Sharing this background information is a great way to provide a photographer with that all important context and to help ensure your photography accurately reflects your brand. It may also spark little creative ideas such as props and colours to include in your photo shoot.

Don’t forget the ‘fluffy stuff’

Think about how you want people to FEEL when they see your images. Do you want them to feel inspired? Happy? To laugh, cry or experience a boost of confidence for example? Considering the emotive side of your photography can really help project the right image and will align resulting photos with your desired actions.

Writing a photography brief for commercial photographer

Be specific about how you want people to feel viewing your images.

Who is your audience?

Be as specific as you can regarding your audience or audiences. The more your commercial photographer knows about their ‘demographics’ – i.e. ages, likes, dislikes, buying habits and the market in general, the better we can understand the brief as a whole.

Think about your setting / location

Do you have an idea of where you would like your photography to take place? If photographing a building or set of interior rooms this is an easier question, however if you are booking corporate headshots or a set of team images, it’s important to have a think about the space you have available.

Is there are particular room in your office you are planning to use or, if outside, do you have an idea of the backdrop you would like to use? Feel free to put down your ideas.

A clear brief will help reflect your brand

When photographing interiors, the ‘location’ is easier.

How many images do you require?

Do you have an idea of the number of images you are looking for from your upcoming photo shoot?

Whilst quality far outweighs quantity when it comes to professional photography, there may be reasons why you need a certain amount of images – for particular website or brochure pages for example. One thing to bear in mind however is that the number of images will directly impact on the amount of time required for photographing and editing.

This can vary your costs considerably so to ensure your expectations are managed and to enable me to give you a fair and accurate fixed cost for you photographs, don’t forget to include quantity within your brief.

Think about future usage

Whether you require imagery for a set amount of time or would like indefinite usage of your images, it’s important to let your photographer know.

When you commission a commercial photographer it is important to understand that the Copyright always remains with the photographer, unless it’s agreed to be sold, for which there will be a price. Your photographer will ask the intended use of the images in order to give you a contract that covers Image Licence.

There are various image licence options when it comes to the usage of the resulting images – I’ll talk more about usage rights another time, but for now if you are unsure of your options, simply give me a call and I’ll talk you through them!

Creativity in a photography brief

Are their multiple uses for your photos in future?

Timescales

Depending on the type of shoot you are planning, we will need to allocate a realistic timeframe for both the shoot itself, the editing and delivery of your final files. Bear in mind that outdoor shoots will leave us slightly at the mercy of the elements, so if we can include a contingency plan or allow extra time for potential delays, the process will be much less stressful.

If you need photography in advance of a particular deadline, such as an event or a website ‘go live’ date, write that down in your brief too.


I hope this has helped to demystify the briefing process somewhat. Trust me, going through the motions of thinking about and writing down what it is you want to achieve from your photography is such a useful exercise – it’s not just helpful for me, but can often help you clarify your own goals and lead to further inspiration!

If you would like any more information on how to brief a commercial photographer or have an upcoming project you’d like to discuss with me, I’d love to hear from you – email me or call 07775 851827.


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