Updated: Sep 27, 2019
How to navigate the creative process and get the most out of your photographer
What are your objectives?
It's important to start the creative process with concrete objectives for the images. Who do you want to see these photographs and what reaction do you want to solicit from them? For example, are you trying to convey a fun and relaxed company culture to attract bright young graduates to work with you? Are you trying to highlight your cutting edge tech? Or are you projecting a friendly and inviting image of your company to your local community? Knowing the key objectives is an invaluable tool for the photographer and it provides a jumping off point for the real creative work to take place.
What are the uses of these images?
This falls in line with objectives but is a bit more specific. Are you planning a social media campaign, placing a print ad, making a billboard, designing a website or all of the above? If you have the answers to these questions then you're are ahead of the game. For instance, if you are shooting for a social media campaign you will need a small photo bank to pull content from for the next few months, but if you are shooting for a billboard you will need one high-quality image that looks good when it's printed at over 15 ft long.
Have a budget range
Budgets are crucial to the creative process because they lay out possibilities and limitations for a project. If you have a budget range you and your photographer can better understand the scope of the project and start to work within that. Parameters are a helpful tool to induce creativity. And remember that ingenuity takes place within all kinds of budgets. Ultimately having a budget range will save you time and help focus the project.
Brainstorming and vision
Now that your photographer understands your needs and the scope of the project you can start the fun part, the creative process. This is where any materials you have come in handy. For instance, providing background about the project, the company, the event or the property. You can’t imagine how central anecdotal details can become to finding the angle of the story. For instance, let's say you are advertising a new housing development. Are you framing these houses as romantic cottages or a sleek modern builds? A romantic cottage would do well in late afternoon light when the sun is a warm yellow and the tree leaves create a kind of dappled shadow effect, whereas a modern build would do well with the starker shadows and whiter light around the early afternoon. This is the part of the process where the photographer will propose ideas and you can either guide them along or participate with your own ideas.
A note on creating a story
Photographs are read in a similar way to words, in fact, visual literacy is a skill that is taught in most image centered careers. It is characterized by the ability to read, write and create visual images. Visual media is a linguistic tool with which photographers communicate and navigate complex ideas. When you hire a photographer you are asking them to tell a story and their tool is the image. The better sense you have of what that story is the more likely the photographer can communicate it. Remember, photographs don’t stand alone, they communicate with each other, amplifying and responding to each other, creating a vision and sensation beyond language.
No photographer is expecting their client to be an expert in photography. It is great to come prepared with a list of questions.
Here are some examples of good questions to ask:
What is your photographic approach and how do you like to work with clients?
Do you have a portfolio I can review?
What related projects have you worked on?
How can the images be used and what are your licensing policies?
How should we start to work together?
What information do you need from me to ensure successful results?
A successful photographic project depends on mutual understanding and creating expectations that can be fulfilled. Following this guide will help ensure an impactful and worthwhile investment.