Think about the formats first

Titel picture for tip 3 by Heidi Rondak

“Think about the formats first”

How to get the best shooting results from the photographer of your choice? Among other things, I’d say that it’s very important to bother about which picture sizes, alignments and how much space you need around the model. In contrast to the contentwise way of looking at this decisions, as covered in my #Tip No. 2, in this article we’re going to analyse some more technical aspects. 

Super-sized formats

Imagine that you’re planning to hang your campaign images as huge wallpapers on the exterior walls of big buildings, or to expose them at fairs in very large-format. 

Fashion Week AW2018/19 Panorama fair
Large poster prints at PANORAMA fair during Berlin fashion week AW2018/19
King-size advertisements in Berlin
Large poster advertorials potentially shot with medium format cameras (photo: Pascal Weick)

Photographic prints up to sizes such as A0 or less may be captured by the chips of e.g. regular professional Canon or Nikon cameras, depending on their megapixel values. But sometimes super-formats require more data, which means that the photographer needs to use a so-called medium format camera. The larger chips of those cameras are able to save more pixels per image and therefore they allow you to print the images king-size, or when small, in an extremely sharp printing quality. The drawbacks to such cameras are that firstly they’re high-priced and secondly their data take a lot of storage space and load very slowly. The images can also suffer a loss of quality because of higher noise. Many photographers disagree whether it’s really better to use medium format cameras.

If you just need small or regular sized prints or pictures for web usage, it would somehow be a waste of money and memory cells to take these photos with a medium format cam. For those reasons most photographers don’t own a medium format camera themselves, but rather do they rent one for the shooting days when it’s required. Thus, when planning super-formats for your campaign, it might be reasonable to tell the photographer in time, so he will accordingly take care of the required gear.

The right sizes and resolutions

Also suggestive might be telling him or her if you need the pictures for digital use only, because in that case the photographer could e.g. render the images to a certain size that will save you memory space and time during up- and downloads. The latter is important when it comes to your website’s performance too, since smaller data quantities load notably faster. The best specifications you can give to your photographer are the desired resolution and measurements of length and/or width in e.g. pixels or centimeters, inches, etc., no matter if it is for print or online. If you’re not experienced in this field, I’m sure that your printery of choice or your graphic designer will help you along with it. They will also inform you, if it is in fact possible to work with a “regular” camera and then render the taken images very large. Due to the fact that bigger formats require lower resolutions (because you look at them from greater distance), you might save a lot of money when it’s not necessary to rent an expensive medium format camera.

Which image orientation do I need?

Another very important thing to indicate to the photographer is whether you need vertical or horizontal formats, or maybe even other aspect ratios like 1:1 or special image sections like circles, etc. For websites, newsletters and other online usage it’s quite common to work with banners, which means that the pictures should definitely be horizontal. If you aren’t aware of what exactly you need, in the heat of the moment it might occur that most pictures are taken in the wrong format, because most photographers personally prefer the one or the other picture orientation. So you might be unlucky when trying to crop a vertical image to horizontal. Particularly this way is quite difficult while the other way around potentially works out. 

In the best case the photographer is told before how to take the pictures, so he can concentrate on the right image buildup for you. After all, if you are irresolute about the format and you plan to try different crops on the pictures, the photographer knowing this will leave enough space around the model. Respectively, you will spare the one who edits the images a lot of time and effort. The same applies to the case that your images need some left space for your logo or typography.  

If you liked my tip no. 3, you might also like my next tip, which is coming soon (: