Say Cheese! 4 Tips for a Successful Photo Shoot

Photography by Chuck Whitman, Whitman Photography

As we’re gearing up for the launch of our brand-new website (just wait ’til you see what it looks like!), one of the biggest items on our to-do list was planning and executing a professional photo shoot. High-quality photography is an absolutely critical ingredient to building and designing a high-quality website—makes sense, ya?

This week we worked with one of our most trusted photographers, Chuck Whitman of Whitman Photography, to capture us TISers as a group, as individuals, and even with some of our long-standing allies. Not only was the photo shoot itself a blast for everyone, the end-product is also exceptional—which is the most important part, after all!

You may think that planning and executing a successful photo shoot is easy-peasy, but there’s much more to it than simply showing up and having the photographer do their thing. Check out our tips below to ensure your next photo shoot runs smoothly and produces stellar results!

1. Hire a reputable photographer you trust.

There are a crazy number of photographers out there you can choose from—many of which are awesome, but all with different styles. Just like you would turn to Yelp or social media for restaurant reviews before dining, it’s smart to do the same thing before hiring a photographer. Do your research using the good ol’ interwebs, social media, as well as recommendations from friends, family and other companies to find the photographer whose style, price, availability, and approach work best for you.

2. Prepare, prepare, prepare!

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail—especially when it comes to photo shoots. A lot of pre-planning needs to be done before the shoot even begins to ensure everything runs smoothly during the shoot and in post-production. Below are some things your Creative Director and/or Art Director (or whoever is responsible for coordinating the photo shoot) should have ready before the day of the shoot:

  • Budget for the photo shoot

  • Detailed shot list: must-haves, alternates, optional shots if time permits

  • Detailed schedule for who is being photographed at what time, for how long

  • Color scheme for outfits, makeup, backdrops, and props

  • Deadline for when you need the edited photos

  • Desired format for the final product, e.g. thumb drive, DropBox, printed, etc. 

3. Help make your “models” look and feel comfortable.

Often times, the biggest challenge in any photo shoot is making your models feel comfortable and natural in front of the camera. We all get a little camera shy, but we don’t want to come across that way in photos! Make sure to have a person or two on set to ease the tension in the studio—someone who isn’t afraid to get silly and make the models laugh! Sometimes, all it takes is cracking jokes and making stupid faces to loosen people up.

If the jokes and public humiliation aren’t cutting it, try throwing on some fun music—something that makes you wanna dance! (This isn’t a bad idea, regardless of how comfortable or uncomfortable your models are. ; ) Who doesn’t love to dance?!)

Another thing that hardly ever fails? Alcohol. Bring a cooler with a couple bottles of wine and some beers to have on set. A glass or two before it’s lights, camera, action will help your models relax.*

*This is totally at the discretion of your photographer and their studio space! Please consult with your photographer before bringing alcohol to your photo shoot.

4. Make sure to have a Creative Director and/or Art Director on set.

Even if you come to the photo shoot prepared with a detailed shot list, it’s still important to have a Creative Director, Art Director or a designated coordinator on set the entire time to help direct the shoot. Your photographer will be too busy snapping away to notice the small details or call out ideas for layout changes or repositioning your peeps. By having a Creative/Art Director on set, you will always have someone keeping an eye on the photos coming through on the computer screen to ensure the scene looks amazing.

Like we said before, high-quality photography is such a necessity for all of your brand marketing assets—including websites, social media, print pieces, and everything in between. Good photography is also a significant investment—so you want to make sure you get the best possible end product during your photo shoot to avoid extra costs scheduling additional photo shoots or editing time.

With that said, here’s a sneak peek at some of the fun photos coming to the new TIS site in the near future. Thanks again to Chuck for the beautiful images. We always enjoy working with you! And thanks to our friends from Event Garde, Local First and Essence Restaurant Group for your participation. We couldn’t ask for better allies!

The Image Shoppe & Event Garde

Event Garde & TIS. Left to right: Aaron Wolowiec, Karen Tracey

The Image Shoppe & Local First West Michigan

Local First & TIS. Left to right: Hanna Schulze, Rob McCarty, Karen Tracey, Elissa Hillary, Troy Best

The Image Shoppe & X Ventures West Michigan

Left to right: Rob McCarty, Karen Tracey, Chip Bowling, Troy Best