Now that you’ve read my post on “Why You Need Lifestyle-Inspired Marketing Content,” let’s talk about the steps you’ll take to execute a successful shoot. Use this checklist as a guide for making sure you have everything you need before and on the day of your shoot.

Planning Your Shoot

  • Book a Photographer/Videographer

    You’ll have to do this three months out because most photographers are quickly booked up, especially during the holidays and wedding season. You can save money by booking a small business that caters to both these needs, which also cuts down on the amount of cross communication that takes place between vendors. It’s a lot easier if your photo and videography needs are all under one umbrella. While you’re getting quotes, you should also see if the team includes basic photoshopping services as part of their package. Some photographers just give you the raw file and don’t even edit basic lighting/color tones, while others are consider it part of a basic service. See if they’ll also offer basic image correction services. The best companies or freelancers consider small edits and basic photoshopping as part of the final product. Less reputable or highly expensive contractors charge for everything.

    Once you’ve booked your desired team, plan a walk through meeting about a week in advance. This is when you’ll meet and discuss the finer details of the shoot, including a storyboard. You should also take a moment to offer them samples of your desired end-result. Do you want something more modern in stark contrast, something ethereal, or perhaps more of an editorial feel? Even the best photographers/videographers need input on your vision.

  • Create a Storyboard

    Both photo and video shoots need some kind of storyboard to communicate the flow of the shoot. For photoshoots, your storyboard will help the team understand what type of photos you want to capture and what each photo is composed of. For videography, your storyboard will help guide the sequence of events. You can create a storyboard on most software, including Illustrator, Photoshop, or even a basic word document. You should also create a hard-copy storyboard on a hard-back poster board to use during the shoot. It’s difficult to reference a laptop or ipad screen during a shoot, which is why having a hard-copy for all team members to quickly reference is a good idea.

  • Book Your Models

    I strongly advise against getting someone from staff to be the star of any photo or video shoot. Your employee already has enough on their plate. Even on the day of, they’ll be tasked with or pestered about endless other responsibilities. I highly recommend getting outside talent to model for shoots and videos. They’ll be more relaxed and focused – and it looks more professional since most people can easily spot the unnerved employee-actor. Hiring talent as part of the shoot’s payroll is a secure bet, but plenty of people are also happy to be included without compensation. If you include a hair and makeup artist, which you should, most people (particularly women) are more than happy for a day of pampering and attention.

    When booking your models, you should first contact your photographers to see if they know of anyone that would be willing to work on the project. Often times, these businesses have a rolodex of people to rely on, whom they’ve usually worked with successfully in the past. The rule of thumb here is to have more models/actors than needed. It’s always better to have an extra one or two, than to be short because someone backed out at the last minute. Someone will always back out at the last minute.

Day of the Shoot

Best practice includes dedicating the entire day to your shoot. A shoot is a long and tiring process and you want to make sure your marketing team is focused on just that task. Scheduling work on that day ensures you’ve got a distracted team that isn’t 100% focused on your very important campaign. Be sure to have a time table distributed to all participants in advance and leave enough time for breaks and lunch. On that note, have a refreshment table equipped with drinks and light snacks, and be sure to include a light lunch. As a courtesy, I also strongly recommend a gift bags for all hired talent as a small gesture thanking them for their contribution. They more special you make them feel, the more likely they are to work with you again – even if they are being otherwise compensated.