“The perfect plan to mount a production”
PART 3: Let’s say it loud and clear
Speech is silver, silence is golden.
As I’m praising in tips No. 21 and 22 where it’s about creating and verifying a mood board that illustrates your concept communicating with the team is the way to get the results that you want for your campaign. From the visuals to the negotiations and booking based on contracts to the clocking of the day’s routine, everything is a way of providing information but can sometimes be subject to misunderstandings when lacking personal communication – be it verbal or written. This article is, therefore, devoted to the importance of transparency and dedicated talking. Eventually, the photo shoot can only go according to the proposed plan if those who are commissioned to fulfil it know every aspect of what you had in mind. Integrating this inherent part in the process of preparing the production will prevent time-consuming and stressful discussions on set as well as keep up a good atmosphere of friendly co-working on top of a flawless photographic result.
“Those who communicate have a better chance to be understood”
Dismantle the discomfort of talking openly about money
It’s a construct created by the powerful and rich to not talk about money in order to keep the underpaid ignorant about their unfortunate situation. This condition has been around for long enough to make us all feel uncomfortable when discussing payment. We all know the feeling of waiting for the other one to address it and do the first bid – hopefully in our own favour – because money is, let’s face it, the most important factor in absolutely everything and the main reason for having the whole production whatsoever. Yet, because of discomfort other things are discussed, planned, and prepared before or without the integration of a proper money-talk while doubts are raising on both parties whether they are the ones being defrauded by the other. When the time has come the tension is commonly high enough already to result in frustration, denial, or other trouble. This waste of time and energy can be pre-empted by overcoming the feeling that talking about money is per se a bad thing. It is on our minds during the whole procedure so we need to air our notions of the budget during the planning. Only this way negotiations are made possible just like finding solutions that suit both sides, for example when a location or other extra cost goes beyond the scope. Therefore, relax and stay friendly when it comes to money. If you do so, everyone does likewise and there will be mutual gratitude for discussing it like adults instead of leaving anyone in the dark about certain parts of the deal.
When it’s about business avoid any kind of surprises
Surprises are a matter of taste and personality but not when it comes to professional collaborations. When the photographer brings three unannounced assistants to the photo shoot and the food is running out this can be a true mood killer for everyone. The same applies when, for example, an additional film team is joining the photo set without the other team’s prior knowledge or when there are more products to be photographed than initially discussed. Such circumstances are crucial to the organisation of a day and thus require clear communication and transparency on both sides if nothing else then because nothing comes for free and later on renegotiations can be nasty as they will be loaded with emotions created on the production day. This being said we want to make sure that all players are looking forward to the production knowing what will happen exactly. An open, gapless, and respectful conversion sketching the production in all its details beforehand functions as a great psychological tool guaranteeing loyalty and an extraordinary outcome. Therefore, never underestimate the power of bonding: it’s the glue to upholding a successful production.
Keep the communicative vibe for the shooting day
As the client you too have an essential role to play during the shoot: you’re the supervisory body showing thumbs up or down to everything you see emerging. Sitting next to the digital operator and watching the photos coming in you have the right to veto whenever something doesn’t quite appeal to you but also the duty to express your satisfaction allowing the team to move on to the next subject. Another important factor to this is timing and this requires your unshared attention if you will. The smoothest flow is backed by your constant and resolute disclosure of whether the team got the images you hoped for or not yet. Of course, you can have a deputy taking over for you once in a while or all day long. This can be e.g. an extra art director who you entrust to understand and communicate your campaign goals and imagery completely. As you can probably tell, this person in charge should be briefed in-depth and able to reproduce your vision with the right wording. At this, the previously created shot list (described in my last article) helps to check if all details have been considered throughout every set avoiding unnecessary reshoots of particular photos.
Mixed into that much responsibility a healthy dose of humour ensures a pleasant working environment which is ideally rooted in nobody taking themselves too seriously. That, by the way, applies to the previous money conversation too.
In Latin, the word “communicare” signifies as much as “unifying”, “sharing” or “letting partake [in something]” which, I think, are good verbs to guide a team if not a necessity for all kinds of relationships between humans. With the help of communication, any work that one person could never do alone is likelier to be achieved by a solid group.
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