How it all works and what to expect.

Commissioning photography can be a daunting process. How do you know where to start and what to expect? This helpful guide will take you through the steps of planning a photoshoot from finding a photographer to the final delivery of images and help you discover that you need from your shoot.

Step 1: Find your photographer and ask for samples of their work. The photographer should have a decent website showing their work, but it might be that you are looking for something specific that’s not on their website. Asking to see more of their work is perfectly acceptable. Find someone who’s work you like, fits your brand and very importantly, has a style you want too. Working with someone you love makes the whole process easier and much more enjoyable. 

Step 2: Specify your brief and the purpose of your shoot. Discuss your requirements in detail as you need to know if the photographer can deliver what you want and contribute good ideas and solutions to make it happen. This step is a great way to get to know the photographer, and to discover if they are easy-going? Although it sounds obvious on a shoot, you’ll be working shoulder to shoulder and in some cases for a long time. Also, be very clear about your deadline because the photographer will need time to plan for the shoot and process the images for your deadline. 

Step 3: Discuss the budget. The photographer needs to know your budget alongside your brief to determine the tasks and length of time required to make it work. The budget should be realistic to cover the time and skill needed to make it work. Some photographers price a job by the day or by the project, and a good discussion will uncover what is possible within the budget and time frame. 

Step 4: Book a date and a location for the shoot, and agree on timings and schedule. Discuss the detail of the shoot as the location may incur a cost? If it’s a public place will you need permission? If it’s outdoors, what if it rains?

Step 5: Shoot day, is where the above comes together, and typically a shoot is booked in either half-day or full-day sessions. Make a schedule of who or what needs shooting, and if possible, give it a time slot. Which helps keep the shoot on track and manages everyone’s time even with unexpected changes in the day. 

Step 6: Contact sheets, ask your photographer to make these for you. These are typically sent to the client to give a birds-eye view of the shoot from start to finish, but their primary purpose is to help you make a selection of the shots that best meet your requirements. Making a shortlist on the day, can cut out the need for this step (and step 7) and help speed up the process.  

Step 7: Prepare your shortlist. Each image has a unique number to make the selection process easier. Note down the name/number of your favourite photos to compile your shortlist. It’s this list that you send to the photographer so they can commence post-production on the shots. 

Step 8: The photographer starts post-production and the processing pdf the shortlisted images. Post-production is when the photographer (or retoucher) colour corrects, crops, removes dust spots and retouches the photos. This step can take time and how long can vary depending on what is required. For example, a final image may be made up of several photos and composited together. 

Step 9: Delivery of the final images to you within an agreed time frame typically happens via digital transfer through a secure website. You may prefer to have the pictures saved onto a hard drive and posted to you or uploaded to your own servers/hard drive instead. Either way is fine and is something to consider at the brief or budget stage. 

Step 10: Follow up with invoice/payment. Once the final images have been delivered, and all work is complete, it is normal for the photographer to follow up and double-check everything is okay. The invoice will be forwarded to you with payment terms. And that’s it! 

Enjoy the photos, share them on social media and use them everywhere, and you have started a great working relationship, this is priceless!

Don’t forget this is a just a general guide — every job and photoshoot is deferent so that the process may vary.

To find out more about my work and read my other articles, follow me on Instagram for a peek behind-the-scenes at my shoots, and view my portfolio to see more about my work.