Tag Archives: art direction

On location photography art direction

How to get great photos on location

Almost all of the photographers we work with prefer to have an art director on the photoshoot. First of all, the old adage of “two heads are better than one” comes into play for problem solving, setting up the shot or even having another body to help move the equipment around, but there are many other key advantages.

What does an art director do on a photoshoot?

The art director’s responsibility goes beyond coordinating what needs to occur on the photoshoot. There is an overall message that needs to be communicated with words and pictures that work together cohesively to further the client’s story. A good art director has a broad understanding of the client’s business and keeps the big picture in mind at all times, which helps immeasurably in communicating with the photographer as a shoot is in progress. It becomes a team effort with art director and photographer in constant communication…”Let’s shoot this in both horizontal and vertical format so it works for the website or as a full page cover for a brochure.” Or, “Safety is a big issue for our client right now so let’s make sure everyone has on proper safety equipment.” Or, “I’d like to zoom in on this shot so we really see the client’s equipment up close and feature their technology.” When we art direct, we stay right by the camera so we can see what the photographer is seeing and also so we can communicate quickly and clearly during the shoot.

Here are a few more things we have found contribute to a successful photoshoot.

  1. Plan the shoot with the client.
    – Get client input. What is the main purpose of the shoot?
    – Logistics: Get contact information of key personnel you will be working with on site.
    – Create a detailed shot list and time schedule.
  2. Get there early and stay late. If you are shooting outside take advantage of early and evening light. A beautiful sunrise or amazing sunset can add tremendously to what you are shooting.  Even a landfill can be beautiful with the right lighting.
  3. Communicate with models.
    – When working with non-professional models (ie company employees) keep communication simple and straightforward.
    – Demonstrate what you want them to do if need be.
    – Their body language has to be natural and believable. Capture them doing their job, and help them feel as comfortable as possible.
  4. Be the photographer’s eyes and ears. Be open to opportunities that are not on the shot list. Many brochure cover images and website banner images were things we saw and shot spontaneously with narrow windows of opportunity.
  5. Pay attention to details. 
    – Ask questions as you shoot regarding safety, uniforms, company processes and procedures.
    – Keep the shot as clean as possible. Watch for things like clutter in the background or on desks.
    – Make sure hands and feet are not cut off in the frame of the shot.
    – Don’t crop with the camera.
    – Make sure models’ attire is neat and appropriate.
  6. Tell a story with each photo. The goal on every shot should be communication. What does this photo say visually.

Here are some examples of our team efforts when we work together as art director/photographer to capture images for our clients.