How to brief a professional photographer

By Matt Lincoln

Matt Lincoln photography

Briefing a photographer can seem daunting – but a good client brief is what sits at the heart of any set of successful images – and it’s a great way to make sure you’re taking care of your investment in professional photography.

Although different types of projects, such as website, event or PR photography will carry their own specific requirements, covering the following elements will go a long way to helping your photographer make the technical, creative and logistics decisions that will contribute to your project’s success.

The questions you need to cover

Who are you? (i.e. your brand/organisation name)

What is the project?

How many images will you require?

What image formats and sizes, orientation and resolution are required?

What timescales are you working to? (i.e. proposed day of shoot, when you need to take delivery of the images)

Do you have a budget in mind?

Where will the shoot be taking place? (Do you need help looking for locations or talent? If it’s outdoors, are there contingency plans in place in the event of poor weather conditions?)

What usage of the images do you require? (e.g. unlimited usage of all the images)

Put the images you require in context by:

  • Providing background on your business – its backstory, values and personality – and the people on your team.
  • Having a clear goal in mind for your images: What do you hope to achieve from your photography? Is it to boost brand awareness? Announce a rebrand? Celebrate a milestone?
  • Outlining where the images are going to appear: Are the images going to be used on your website or a particular marketing campaign (where they may need to be themed)? Are there any specific needs for text placement on the images?

Provide brand guidelines, including typography, brand colours and any words or phrases you use to describe your company. I always encourage clients to get their brand designer involved in preparing the brief.

Who will the images be aimed at? Who is your audience? (Be as specific as you can about your audience and provide demographics, and remember to consider issues of diversity and inclusion.)

Think about how you want your audience to feel when they see the images:
Do you want them to feel inspired? Confident? Empowered? Thinking about this emotional side of your photography will help the images elicit the response you’re looking for.

Provide examples of photography you like. (Examples, whether they’re from other businesses in your sector, unrelated sectors or stock shots, are a great way to highlight what you’re after, what you like and also what you don’t like.)

A recent shoot for the Science Council

Ahead of the recent shoot for the Science Council at Welsh Water, I worked closely with The Co-Foundry’s brand design consultant, Sue and the client to agree the brand style – ensuring the photography fitted the established brand identity and guidelines.

Aimed at scientists and their employers, the images needed to feel natural, optimistic, diverse and inclusive. I was able to bring in colours from the location to sit beautifully with the Science Council colour palette and to reflect their use of white space in the design.

Science Council photoshoot

Commissioned photography has allowed us to tell the complete story of our customers and their journey with us. It’s been so rewarding working with our scientists, sharing their experiences and capturing their smiles.

Charlie Cantwell, Marketing and Communications Officer, Science Council

Provide contact details of the person the photographer should liaise with at your business and contact details for the day of the shoot.

Outline the payment procedure and provide contact details for invoicing.

Communication is key!

Communication and ensuring your photographer has a thorough understanding of what you’re looking to achieve, is key to the success of any photography project. A watertight brief means your photographer can not only accurately reflect your brand, business and people, but will also be able to contribute the creative touches that will make all the difference to the final images.

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