At the centre of the creative industries lies 'The Shoot Day'.
Be it a TV commercial, editorial portrait, an instructional video or a fashion shoot - this coming together of creative minds, technicians, image makers, producers, models, artists, clients, caterers, groomers, etc, is the central event in everything we do.
For all of us, these shoot days give focus and purpose to our careers. Without them our working days would be reduced to endless theorising and speculation. It is the shoot day that brings our ideas and concepts to life.
But what do we each think, from the perspective of our own roles, are the most important things to get right to create the perfect shoot day? What essential things need to happen in preparation or during execution, to make sure the day goes well?
We asked our staff, colleagues and clients to tell us what they feel are the essential ingredients needed to ensure the end results are the best they can be.
CLARITY AND UNDERSTANDING
The Photographer/Director - John Wright:
"For me, the most important thing that needs to be in place before, during and after a shoot is a clear understanding between myself and the client or Creative Director in terms of what we hope to produce, balanced by the practical restrictions caused by budget, location, etc. So often I see references shot in location A - let's say something shot in available light at dusk in the Mediterranean - and these are intended as references for a studio shoot in London...! Now, in these circumstances, it's important that I temper the client's expectations, but it's equally important that I embrace the essence of what they are aiming for and push hard to get as close as possible. But we both need to understand what - realistically - can and can't be done.
Without this understanding, an atmosphere of tension can easily permeate a production. Alternatively, if I've had clear communication with the client in the Pre Production stage and we both understand each other's aims and aspirations, I find any shoot day can be really successful and a great experience for everyone involved."
TRUST AND COLLABORATION
The Client - Jessica Hall (Marketing Manager, Affordable Art Fair UK):
"For me, trust is one of the most fundamentals things needed for a shoot day to run smoothly. Not just trust in the photographer and the crew to deliver the final product you want, but trust in the fact that both you and the creatives share the same vision and the same understanding of what you want to achieve. Being open to exploring different ideas and being comfortable enough to express this is important, too - which all goes back to there being enough trust between us and the Director or Photographer. If there is a good, comfortable working relationship between clients and creatives, that's when the work becomes truly collaborative, and all options can be explored in a respectful, mutually beneficial way.
Things usually go downhill during a shoot because of a breakdown of communication; there have been shoots that have felt longer and more trying due to tensions running high. This only makes it much more difficult for us to communicate our true feelings about the work during production. For example, if we felt differently from the Creative Team about an image or product, we might be less able to freely give our honest critique in order to end up with the best product, due to the negative way in which it might be taken in such a tentative atmosphere. And again, this all comes down to there being sufficient trust between all members of both parties."
CALM, COMMUNICATION AND COPIOUS CAFFEINE
The Producer/Account Manager - Anastasia Berger:
"The first and perhaps most important thing for me, is maintaining a sense of calm. A calm and relaxed atmosphere benefits absolutely everyone, and really enhances the way everyone works together. I'd also say that, where possible, it's important to try not to overload a day - so if a shoot actually needs to take two days, things will run much more smoothly if you give it the days needed, rather than try and cram everything into one day. Of course, sometimes this is unavoidable, but it's important to keep the balance.
It goes without saying that communication is absolutely key between the Client and Photographer/Creative Team, from the Pre-Production stage through to the shoot day itself, so everyone involved is comfortable and confident at each step in the process.
And of course, plenty of tea and coffee is a must! Shoot days can be long - sometimes call times of 5 or 6 am mean tea and coffee is constantly on the go. A well run shoot where this is provided and/or easily accessible goes a long way (as well as delicious catering!). This also keeps those energy levels nice and high - we are all aiming towards the same goal, to produce fantastic work and have fun in the process."
CHECK, DOUBLE-CHECK, TRIPLE-CHECK
The Technician - Colin Ross:
"Familiarity within a creative team and an understanding of how certain people work, is often why Photographers will work with the same First Assistants and Directors build up relationships with certain DOPs. As the one responsible for managing every technical aspect of a shoot, it's vital that I arrive on shoot day with a complete and absolute understanding of the vision we're trying to achieve.
Just as vital, is making sure that the correct equipment and team are booked for the job. This is always dependent on the scale of the shoot; you may have a small team who all multi-task, or a massive crew who all have very specific roles. Once you've established what is needed, you can put together a crew that fits with the demands of the day, as well as the budget.
Checking kit in advance is also key in ensuring a smooth shoot. It's one thing to be able to just pop 'round the corner to grab some batteries when you're in a studio in East London, but it's quite another to discover you're missing a sync cord on location in the Santa Monica Hills, an hour's drive from the rental house. (Luckily, this is just an example and hasn't actually happened!). So check, double-check and triple-check!"