Set the scene within the limits of your financial resources

Titel picture for tip 4 by Heidi Rondak

„Set the scene within the limits of your financial resources“

You are planning to work with a photographer and commission your campaign photos, lookbook or other photographic works? I’ve already been giving you some tips on how to find the right imagery regarding your target group (tip no. 1) and the planned media for publishing the photos (tip no. 2). I also gave you some technical details about different possibilities with different formats in my last tip. But to all these factors another one is prior: your budget. 

Model Theresa Hesterberg by Heidi Rondak for The Dapifer
Model: Theresa Hesterberg (Modelfabrik) | Make-up: Rebecca Schmitz | Styling: Jasmin Daouiji

Dreaming of a perfect production

I know the problem well: the flood of ideas just comes out of my head and I’d love nothing better than doing shootings in Iceland, Kanada or South-East Asia. However these plans are associated with high cost, of course. But not only the travel factors are very money-consuming. Usually, it’s good to gather some (price) information for every idée fixe that comes up, before setting it. To give you another example from my own experience: I’ve been requesting an old and gorgeous library in Munich once, for an editorial shooting. The person in charge told me that it’s possible – but the cost would have been a four-digit amount of euros for only a few hours of shooting, let it be understood, for a non-commercial production…

Panoramic views of dream locations in Iceland

Beware of pinching and scrimping

The location’s, team’s and model’s fees are almost always higher at commercial shootings, which is a fact that you might want to take account of when planning your production. The good news is that it’s possible to keep the expenditure low, but still create super-beautiful pictures. I’m convinced that it’s important to rather economize on the frills than on the basics, which are: a good model, a make-up artist, a hair stylist (or someone who does both), a fashion stylist, obviously a photographer, a digital operator and some assistants for each part of the team, unless it’s a very very small and familiar production. AND one of the most important things for a shooting is catering, presumed that the shooting duration is longer than 4 hours. That is to say that you should provide at least a basic stock of snacks and drinks, especially coffee, because otherwise people might loose their good vibes at a certain point of the day. Remember that everyone in the team works for you and they can only give their best, if you cater for their basic needs. You can find the availability of catering as a rule in many model booking contracts, since many people seem to forget that models are human beings too. Therefore a model won’t be able to look the best she or he can after a whole day of being hungry on set.

Depending on the workload, you might need an even bigger team, e.g. when you are having several models in your campaign. Starting three models it’s better to work with more than one make-up artist and hair stylist, so you won’t loose too much time in the morning waiting for all the models to be made-up. Otherwise it might occur that time runs out in the end and unwanted mistakes slip in. Very often you also need an art director with a great know-how supervising everything on set. He or she will represent your interests and communicate them to the team effectively. A set designer is essential if you’re working with any kind of props, because she or he will take care of ordering and applying them tastefully. You might also need one or several set runners who are taking care of any issues that require manpower. All that sounds like a whole lot of bookings you need to make (and pay), and you are right assuming that some shootings also work with less people. But as a matter of fact, when the schedule is tight, it’s a huge advantage to have everyone focused only on his or her own tasks. For big productions, there’s always the possibility of engaging a production agency. They are professionals in organizing shootings, but obviously you will have to pay them too.

You see that mostly it’s important to factor in the cost of your professional team and based on this you will have an overview of how much you can spend on “specials” for your shooting. 

The easiest way is shooting in a photo studio

Usually, good photo studios are available for starting 500 euros net, or even for less when you’re here in Berlin, although some of them are not as high-tech and comfy of course (; Shooting in a studio mostly proves to be relatively simple, since everything you’ll need is available right next to you once you’ve brought everything in. Everyone can spread out their utensils and they won’t have to move around with it during the day. Also most studios are equipped with a kitchen, toilets, a changing room, electricity and everything else you need for a perfect shooting day.

Outdoor shootings can prove difficult

For outdoor shootings it’s quite important to think about good solutions for the following questions:

  • Are there any accessible toilets nearby?
  • Where can the model change?
  • Are there any bystanders to be expected and if yes, who is going to be in charge of dismissing them?
  • Where can you get electricity for the hair stylist’s gear?
  • Is there any place where the photographer or his digital operator/assistant can put a computer and work on it?
  • Where can people sit down once in a while?
  • Is there any coffee place or the possibility of making some coffee?
  • Where can you store the food?
  • Is it easy or hard for the team to reach the location with equipment? (e.g. when you’re shooting in the mountains, reaching the shooting spots can prove to be difficult)
  • Is the location safe for everyone?
  • Are there any parking spaces available nearby?
  • Does anybody need to travel or stay overnight before or at the shooting day?
  • Is there any shelter available for sun protection or nasty weather?
  • Do you have a plan B location?
  • AND do you need a permit to shoot in that location?
  • etc.

All these points can possibly raise the cost of your production and in general they can be an issue when shooting at indoor locations that aren’t photo studios too. By answering these questions you can see if your idea for the shooting is financially practicable or rather entails too much efforts and security gaps. In this case you might want to search for a better solution in order to save money. There are endless possibilities to get well-made photos from a creative team, so there’s nothing wrong with working under the motto “less is more”. 

Making of picture with Melanie Hoppe and Siri Laude
Shooting outdoors usually requires flexibility. [Here: make-up artist Melanie Hoppe and model Siri Meßmer (Talents Models)]
You see that you can either invest a little more to make sure the shooting goes well, or you just search a little longer to find out what’s the right strategy for your shooting. It’s up to you, but I’d say that it will definitely be worth the effort and money, for you can avoid a bad awakening in the post-production. There’s always a solution to everything, so make sure to find it – and as you’re not alone, why not consult your photographer, art director, etc. and ask for their opinion? After all, they’ve surely gone through such problems already (;

In my next tip I’m going into detail with how each kind of indoor locations appear on photos. I will give away plenty of ideas in what kind of places you could shoot your campaigns, so you can start imagining your brand’s new photos. So make sure to come back, I’m looking forward to welcome you with my next tip.