How to Prepare for Your Organization’s Photoshoot

At some point, you’ve likely either considered hiring a photographer to come in and take pictures of your business, or you hired a photographer and were… well I’ll just say it, not exactly thrilled with the results.

While it seems like a relatively simple task, it can be very difficult to end up with a final batch of photos you feel you can use in your marketing materials.

(Want an easy-to-use sample photo shoot plan? Download it here.)

The difficulties can be due to a variety of reasons.

If you have no photography experience yourself or have never worked with a photographer before, you may be unsure how to communicate what you’re envisioning for these photos. In this case, you might find yourself getting frustrated with this communication block, or over-relying on your photographer for guidance, trusting they’ll just “get” what you mean.

Truth be told, this is not an unreasonable stance to take. After all, they’re the experts, not you. The problem is you’re the expert on your business and how you’d like it to be represented – not them.

While it makes sense to rely on a photographer for shot composition, lighting advice and staging tips, if you don’t let them know what your goals are for this photo shoot (i.e. why you’re having this done in the first place) then they’re just going to take some pretty standard office photos. If this happens, you will be left disappointed and wondering why the photographer couldn’t just figure this all out for you.

The truth is that everyone needs guidance, even photographers. By putting together a photography schedule and clearly outlining what these photos need to accomplish, you can guide your photographer and free them up to be more creative. This will make your photographs more appealing and enhance the value of whatever you choose to use them for.

Here’s what you should consider before developing a photo shoot plan, and a sample plan you can follow to make sure all your bases are covered.

Think Through Your Intended Use

Here’s a big question: Why exactly are you having photos taken in the first place? For a brochure? Your website? Sharing how you envision these photos being used will really help your photographer out.

For one, this will greatly affect shot composition. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve received a batch of images back, only to think, “Man, if this shot was just a litttllllle bit wider, it’d be perfect for (blank use).” Better communication on my part would have likely increased the odds the images I received were a more appropriate fit for my needs.

This will also allow you to tap into your photographer’s past experiences. They’ve likely had similar requests before and can share with you what has worked and what hasn’t.

So, as you break down the shots you want, try to imagine where you’d like these to appear. You may not have answers for every shot you list out – that’s fine. But if you feel strongly that you’d like to use some images in specific places – like the header of your website, for example – then make a note on the checklist you’ll provide your photographer with.

To really make your point, you can organize shots by intended use. List categories like “website,” “brochure” and any other use you envision. It’s OK to leave some photo requests outside of one of these buckets, too; this is simply intended to stress to your photographer that the photos you already have an intended use for should be given priority.

Priority Areas

Make a list of all the locations on site you’d like your photographer to capture. Why? Because this will help you envision what you want these photos to represent about your business. Step back and take a critical look at your surroundings. Certain areas are probably nicer than others. Prioritize getting shots in these areas.

As a helpful exercise, imagine you bring a client on site. What would you like them to see, and what would you try to avoid? These photographs should ideally provide a look into your business; present the aspects that you think best match up with your organization’s values, mission and marketing strategy.

If you don’t structure your initial list around which locations you’d like more photos of, then your photographer will likely settle on whatever spot is the easiest place for them to take a photo. This means you could end up with too few or no pictures from the area you most wanted to highlight, and too many of another area you wanted to downplay.

Internal Guidelines

Along with prepping your photographer, you should also send around some guidelines to staff on what they can expect come the day of the photo shoot. First off, let them know at least a week in advance that the shoot is actually happening. They’ll appreciate this! No one wants a photo shoot sprung on them at the last minute, and being forward with this info might make them more likely to actively participate in the process.

Then, ask them to clean their work areas. You don’t want to have your photographer’s options cut down because of one desk in the middle of the room being full of junk, after all. Next, decide on a dress code for the day. If you’re a casual work environment and want to stick to that, then stress that you’d like employees to dress in “nice casual” clothing, or something along those lines. It’ll help.

On the other hand, if you’re asking for a dress code out of the ordinary, like business or business-casual, then provide clear instructions for what you expect. Ties or no ties? I spend most of my life wondering if I need to wear a tie for a “nicer” event – make this easy for your staff.

As a general rule, keep in mind that people WILL NOT be fans of being asked to dress nicer – we’re creatures of habit, after all – but if you inform them ahead of time and clearly make your case, you can accomplish this without any huge blowback from staff.

You should also ask if everyone is willing to be photographed, and see if there’s anyone who doesn’t want to participate. You’ll also likely have to provide staff with waivers which clear you to use their likeness in all marketing and promotional materials. If anyone has questions about this, take the time to explain why you’re having photos taken and what you hope to accomplish.

The goal is to have all of your staff feeling relaxed and comfortable. This will make the experience go smoother and lead to a better end-product.

The last suggestion is to appoint someone who will work directly with the photographer, show them around and generally help the photo shoot run as smooth as possible. As the organizer, this might be you, but if not, make sure that the person who works with the photographer understands the intended uses for these images that we discussed above. This person should serve as a second set of eyes for the photographer, making suggestions and helping brainstorm shot ideas.

Now, it’s likely your photographer will have all of this covered, but it can’t hurt to be extra prepared.

Sample Photo Shoot Outline

To help you with this project, we’ve created a sample photo shoot outline you can give to your photographer and staff. This will allow you to organize your thoughts and present them clearly to your photographer, ensuring you get the most out of this experience.

To download this sample guide, click the button below.