When I get a call for a job you might think I just show up the day of the shoot, right? Well, I could do that, but the outcome probably won't reach it's best potential. When one looks at an image they might not have any idea of the communication and planning it took to get the shot. I'm going to talk about how I communicate by referencing a shoot I did recently for OpenTable's new website that took place at Foreign Cinema in San Francisco. Here are my top tips:
Meet with the Client - It's part of taking pre-production to the next level and allows us to go more in-depth on many subjects. Besides having phone conversations we had two meetings at OpenTable's offices before the shoot. We were able to see and talk about details relating to the different aspect ratios necessary for the new site. And that led to having the conversation about shooting tethered on-set so we could plug images into layout. We also looked at different existing imagery and shared what we liked and didn't like about it.
Take Notes - Write down thoughts before calling or meeting with the client. It's a great opportunity to ask questions and think of ideas. Don't be afraid to write things down even if they sound obvious. It helps the mind have a steady flow of ideas. When I do this it most often leads to a great phone conversation or meeting. And when you're in a meeting take notes on your computer or iPad. It makes it easier to copy and paste things onto your shot list, etc.
Talk about Direction - Ask clients questions and get an idea of what direction they are going toward and what they want to say with the images. Make up a mood board or ask them to make one. In this case OpenTable wanted to show people having a good time, but also pull back a little and shoot it wide so as to make it less personal. The food couldn't look overly styled or too unique because the image would be seen worldwide.
As Detailed as Possible - On the shot list spell things out as much as possible. In the case of shooting in a live restaurant it's crucial to know which tables you want to shoot at and have them reserved. During the day of scouting decide on which food you want to shoot along with certain dishes and glassware. Ask the restaurant to swap if necessary. Make someone responsible for ordering the food and drinks 20-30 minutes before the actual time you're scheduled to shoot it on the shot list. These things are easily overlooked, but crucial if you want to be prepared.