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Ever been really proud of something you’ve created but thought that the photo just didn’t do it justice? Do you struggle to get a good photo of your work because of time restraints, only being able to take a quick snap on your phone or not having a chance to get a picture of the décor in situ? Having even a few professional photos in your portfolio can be invaluable when pitching to corporate or high-end clients, or for incorporating into your advertising. Having organised and also been part of a few photoshoots, here are my top tips for getting the best from them!
1. Use your contacts
If you have already built relationships with a venue, photographer, cake maker, florist etc approach them to find out if they are interested in getting involved. Suggest working on the basis that everyone joins in for free in return for using the photos at no charge in their marketing, social media etc. If a supplier is insistent on being paid then you can choose to charge them for photos from the shoot, or look for someone else who is happy to get involved on the same basis as the other suppliers. If there are certain suppliers who you would like to work with to develop a working relationship then approach them too, or if you are looking for certain props your existing network might know just the person to get involved. If you want to create something really spectacular but need a hand, don’t be afraid to contact other NABAS members to see if they are available and interested!
2. What’s the purpose?
Think about exactly what it is that you want to promote and where the best environment would be? I recently organised a shoot based on a range of baby shower décor that I wanted to get some great images of in an appropriate setting. As I wanted to appeal to the high-end market, I contacted a local spa / golf club who were keen to take part. If you want to capture something like a quirky wedding, then an old atmospheric church would be a great location. Spending time researching locations to suit the look of your theme will be worth it in the end if you can find somewhere that really compliments the look you are trying to achieve. Make sure that all the suppliers involved are aware of the theme / look you are aiming for as well, and that you have discussed in advance the elements they will bring to the shoot.
3. Plan and prepare!
Plan each element of décor you want to create and ensure you have a list of the minimum images you want to get from the shoot to share with your photographer. Visit the venue in advance (with the other suppliers if appropriate) to work out what will work best where. Confirm details with the venue 1 – 2 days in advance to check if there are any known changes before you arrive, and agree contingency arrangements with the other suppliers. When ordering stock, ensure you have plenty of spares for on the day!
4. Expect the unexpected and still be prepared to be caught out!
For the baby shower shoot, I had arranged with the Business Manager at the hotel to set up a certain room for an ‘afternoon tea’ and so I delivered everything to the room on the Sunday evening, with the larger pieces of décor fully set up ready for the shoot first thing on the Monday morning. When I turned up on the Monday at 7.30am ready to set up the cupcakes and finishing touches, I can’t begin to describe the feeling of walking into the room which was completely empty. Not a single balloon to be seen. The duty manager explained that they had mistakenly double booked the room and had moved all my décor into another (smaller) room. To their credit and my amazement, they had managed to move my circular backdrop with balloon garland attached plus a half arch without any damage to either piece, so I started to reset the room. Within 20 minutes another duty manager arrived to apologise profusely, saying the décor should have been moved to another area of the hotel which turned out to be the bar. At this point the Business Manager arrived and was utterly mortified and embarrassed to find that we had been moved twice already. She frantically made arrangements to get us into the recently refurbished suite that meant moving for a third time but, in the end, we benefited from more space and better lighting. The models for the shoot arrived just as we had moved everything across so we only had a limited window to stage and photograph everything which wasn’t ideal.
5. Be flexible and thoughtful!
Take ‘behind the scenes’ photos of the day and post these on social media as teaser shots of the final photos which you’ll share post editing. Photographers rarely get pictures of themselves in action and this can be a thoughtful way to show them at work! At one shoot a supplier had to bring her young son who was starting to get a little bored. I air filled a spare latex balloon and the amount of pleasure and entertainment this provided was amazing! His mum was also very grateful as it helped her to concentrate on working rather than trying to placate a fractious toddler.
6. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!
Ask your photographer if they would be happy to take some headshot photos and shots of you while you are working as part of the shoot – these are great for using on your LinkedIn profile etc to portray a professional impression.
7. Be sociable on social media
This is a great opportunity to network with suppliers that you might not know as well as you’d like. Before the event, exchange contact details and set up a group chat on e.g., WhatsApp. Encourage everyone to post about the day on social media and to tag in all the other suppliers involved as this will increase everyone’s exposure. The more you can do to support each other during and after the shoot will really strengthen your working relationships, and if you’ve worked with a NABAS member on the shoot this may give you the confidence to go for bigger projects in the future, knowing that you have another competent pair of hands willing to help you out!