Have you been thinking that you may need custom styled stock photos for your brand or business? Are you trying to implement a better process for your own business? Today, I'm sharing an inside look at my custom styled stock photography process.
I love processes and systems, implementing them helps the business run smoother and creates a better client experience too. All client booking usually includes 3 or more themed sessions and takes approximately 5 to 7 weeks to complete. Here's a look at how we make the magic happens.
1 | REVIEW CLIENT QUESTIONNAIRE
One of the first things that happens with my clients is a variety of emails. Through these emails we determine their photographic needs and the scope of their project. These emails really help me determine their wants. After we have confirmed their booking they receive a client questionnaire. This questionnaire helps me get a better sense for their business, their branding, and their audience.
They answer a variety of questions like; What are your branding colors? Tell me about your ideal audience. What inspires you? What are your business offerings? All of these questions paint a picture of the types of photos that will work best for their business.
2 | CREATE A CLIENT SHEET & SESSION BREAKDOWN
The other homework task that clients go through is creating an inspiration board on Pinterest. I ask clients to pin a variety of images that they like, are drawn to, and are inspired by. It's ideal when clients include description on each photo about why they have included the photo. Once I review their inspiration board, I create a client sheet and outline their session details. Creating client sheets is one of my favorite things aside from the actual photo session. A client sheet allows me to flush out ideas that will best suit the photo session. I review all of our email correspondence, their questionnaire, and the Pinterest board, allowing me to compile all the details for their session. With their client sheet I include the types of props they like, colors, textures, and themes.
3 | CREATE A SESSION SHOT LIST
From the client sheet and session breakdown I create a shot list. A shot list takes their client sheet one step further and allows me to gain a better sense of what I am going to create. I reference photos from their inspiration board, photos that I'm inspired by, photos that remind me of them, and even photos I've taken. My shot list gives me a blueprint and guidelines for what I'm creating.
4 | CREATE A SESSION PROP LIST & SOURCE PROPS
After the shot list is created, the final step before beginning the photo session is to create a prop list and source props. Almost every time I begin the process of working with a client I have a sense of what I what to create for them and I usually make mental notes about the types of props that will be needed.
When creating a prop list I reference the client sheet and shot list. I make note of every prop I plan to use for their session and source any needed props that may be required. Often times I source a few props that require shipping, so I make sure to leave enough room in our timeline to ensure the arrival of these props. I also source fresh props, this could be fruit, or pastries or flowers. I make a list of these items and like to have them picked up a day or two before their session.
The most important thing in preparing for the session to make sure all the details and props are ironed out.
5 | EXECUTE CUSTOM PHOTOGRAPHY SESSION
And this is where the magic happens, haha! A majority of time within the custom styled stock photography process is all preparation. There will be weeks of preparation before the session actually takes place. The working sessions of their package usually range over a variety of days. I block on an entire day for the first day of their session and focus on all photos that have fresh props in them. That day will be followed by a few more days of shooting.
During my shoot days I work from my shot list and prop list. I work through the clients three to four outlined themes and after each shoot I'll review what I have captured and review their shot list and client sheet. I make note of any images that I feel may needed to be included.
6 | EDIT CUSTOM PHOTOGRAPHY SESSION
This is where we wrap everything up with a pretty little bow. Processing the photos is the final step. I review all of the images and pick out the very best for editing. A lot of work goes into editing, especially when shooting with white backgrounds. To get whites the brightest and cleanest it's best to shoot in natural light. Even when shooting in natural light whites can come out a little muddy or grew. In my post processing routine I work at making all of those whites the brightest and cleanest they can be.
Once all the the photos have been processed I put together proof sheets for clients to review their images. The proof sheets allow the client to view their images before sending their final payment. Once their final payment is received I create a shared folder in Google Drive and they receive instant access to all of their photos.
That's a wrap! There are plenty of ways to plan and process your custom client experience, I hope this inside look has been helpful and an encouragement to you in your own journey. And if you're thinking you may be ready for your own custom photos, you're already one step ahead as you'll know what to expect! xoxo! Samantha