Planning a photo shoot

By Petra Clayton

Photography is important to Custard as it’s a visual vehicle for telling a story and reinforcing personality.  We work with Hospitality Media as they have years of experience in the industry and know just how to sell a room, a dish and a personality.  Here they share their top tips…..

Okay, so you have booked the photographer, all you need to do now is sit back let them work their magic and you will have a fabulous set of images that you can use just about anywhere, or so you’d like to think, when reality strikes!

Many of you have worked with photographers with various briefs and know just how long and hard a day can be when on a photo shoot.  To make life a little easier and to generate great results and to hit objectives, here are a few tips to help the shoot run smoothly.

Planning the shoot

It’s starts with a ‘brief’ including goal setting.   Time put in at this stage will ‘pay off’.  It’s stating the obvious, but be sure that you know exactly what you want photographing and the end purpose of the images.   This is essential to ensure precious budgets are spent well. Mobilise the whole team in readiness for the day of the shoot; encourage them to feel they are part of the process providing a sense of ownership.

 Getting your team involved

If you can’t afford the time to be with the photographer, ensure a trusted colleague is available to help assist in organising the shots.  Depending upon what is involved with the brief, don’t do a disappearing act as this could undermine all your efforts.  Or if everything is under control,  ‘check in’ on a regular basis and see how the shoot is going.

Be one step ahead – production

Shots are planned however to maximize time, ensure on the day the next shot is being organised, such as the next location ready so the photographer can swiftly move from one location to the next.  Don’t hurry the situation, talk to the photographer and they should be able to advise as to when to ensure the next location is ready.  This is especially important when it comes to food photography and that the dish doesn’t arrive too soon, wait until the photographer is ready and is 100% happy with the previous shot.  This ensures that food is photographed at its very best.

In the bedroom – a member of housekeeping on hand

The bed itself is generally the focal point and is always the challenge.  Ensure that a member of your team in housekeeping, are on hand to assist.  A well-made bed with well pressed sheets and duvet covers are essential. The less re-touching on the computer is beneficial all round.  Secondly ensure that the duvet covers the divan if a valance hasn’t been used.  This makes the end result look so much better.

In the restaurant – keep the iron handy

The same thing applies to table clothes as with bedding.  It doesn’t take much to distract the viewer of an image of a tablecloth that is slightly creased.  In addition a badly ironed cloth can be just as bad. It’s therefore imperative that somebody carries out a wonderful job of ironing all those table clothes before the photographer arrives.  Ensure an iron is at hand to carry out any ‘spot’ ironing.   It will be worth the effort and make your restaurant sing.

Check your cutlery – Nice and New

As well as shooting the whole restaurant you will normally expect the photographer to do some tight shots of the table settings.  This can really be helped if you have a set of brand new knife and forks handy. You will be amazed that a close up of your everyday cutlery will reveal all those little tiny little scratches and dents.  This is your opportunity for your restaurant to shine.  So keep a set of new cutlery in the back of a drawer or locked away just for photo shoot days.

Staff become your customers

On those occasions that you want customers in shot it can be really challenging. Models will come to mind first.  But they can be expensive and limiting in terms of how many shots they can be in without repetition.   On occasions friends of the hotel have happily helped out but they can prove to be unreliable.  Increasingly members of staff have volunteered for this moment of fame!  If you choose to go down this route ensure those members of staff are comfortable about it that they are well briefed and they have brought a change of clothes for the shoot.  Don’t make someone feel like they have to be part of the shoot. Definitely don’t organise your models on the day, it’s all about preparation.  One thing to mention you technically should get all models to sign a model release form.  This gives you permission to use images where they have featured in your marketing.

The sun is shining

Finally if you’re planning shots outside think about the time of year and of course consider the weather.  You can’t always guarantee the weather but there are definitely better times during the year May – June, always a few nice days and the foliage looks fresh and colourful.  September and into early October can also be a good time to do the outdoor photography due to the light.  However, heavy dew even on a nice day might restrict your opportunity to shoot outdoors.

Fed and watered – obvious, but not always

Unless a photographer has food allergies and always brings along a packed lunch, remember to take care of your photographer.   Sometimes locations can be chaotic and photographers can be left to their own devices that nobody offers any food.  Water and coffee is generally secure, but not always.  It’s basic but it sure helps when it comes to productivity.

Somebody mentioned only a short time ago, the one thing that makes a website is good photography, so hopefully these few helpful tips of advice will ensure your photo shoot runs smoothly, providing you with a great set of shots to use in all your on and off-line marketing.