Junior School // 01

If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from all our interviews, it’s that sometimes, you gotta fake it ’til you make it. Because, let’s face it, no matter what university you went to and no matter how exorbitant the fees were (http://www NULL.campaignbrief NULL.com/2012/01/miami-ad-school-set-to-open-in NULL.html) – there’s gonna be a few things (a) they didn’t teach you, or (b) you missed the lecture because you were asleep, or at the pub.

So, we’ve decided to open a school of our own. Junior School. And all it costs is your neighbours’ WIFI password.

For our inaugural post we asked one of our own mentors – Andy Jones (http://twitter NULL.com/#!/jonesasjones), a Senior Art Director from a Melbourne agency to school us in the art of pretending we know what the fuck we’re doing on our first photoshoot.

Every shoot is different. The photographer, talent, product, client, weather, studio, timings are all variables that will make your life simpler or harder each time. A photo shoot should be one of the most enjoyable parts of an art directors job. It gets you out of the office, you get to produce a vision that you have, and you get to work with people who think they are artists, just like you do.

These are ten things to keep in mind on any shoot.

1. Know your local shooter. If this is your first shoot, or even your first car, or food, or talent shoot, choose a photographer that someone at your agency recommends. This makes things easier on two fronts. One, you’ll know how easy the photographer is to work with, whether they rely heavily on retouching or can do it all in-camera, how quick they are and so on. Two, it means that you can tell the client that yes, the agency has worked with this photographer before. Clients like to hear this. You won’t have to do this for your whole career, but early on you’ll get better results.

2. It’s all in your head. You should know everything about the shot that you’re after. And I mean everything. You should be able to see it in your head. How is the talent standing? What’s the look on their face? What hand are they holding the product in? What’s in the background, on the ground, on their shirt? Even the smallest detail makes a difference. Sure, things pop up on the day of the shoot that could be better than what you’re thinking of, and you should roll with it when that happens, but before you even arrive at a shoot, you should know what you want to leave with. This is doubly important when the client attends the shoot. Clients love to ask questions. You need to have answers.

3. It’s not all in your head. Now that you know what the shot is going to be, what’s in going to look like after it’s retouched and coloured? Talk to the photographer about this early on. Show them examples of what you mean, If they don’t know what you want it to look like, they’ll shoot for what they think it should look like – and that may be very different to yours. And that just means you’ll end up with a mish-mash that neither party is happy with. Oh yeah, make sure you share this with the client too.

4. The Help. If you’ve never done a shoot before, don’t be afraid to admit it. Get a senior art director to go on the shoot with you. They don’t need to be there the whole time, and they won’t step on your toes while they’re there, hopefully. The very first shoot I did was a dead easy studio job with talent. But, when I got there I realised that I didn’t know anything about being on a shoot, and the first question that the client asked, I didn’t have an answer to. Which was why there was a senior with me. He didn’t control the shoot, just gave guidance. “Make sure you look out for this. Make sure you get that.” Invaluable.

5. You’re not a photographer. Just because you’ve got a Canon 5D doesn’t mean you’re a photographer. It just means you’ve got disposable income. You employed a good photographer for a reason. Let them do their job, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the shot you want to get. If they think a certain angle is better, let them shoot it. But if you’re not convinced, ask them to shoot it differently.

6. And the headline goes… Where’s the headline going to go? Have that in your head, and frame and crop accordingly. It won’t be in the photographers, and more than likely not in the clients, it has to be in yours.

7. And the copy goes… See above.

8. And the logo goes… See above above.

9. Shoot wide. Shoot wider than you need. Even after you’ve taken into account points 6,7 & 8. Almost without fail you get the shot back, put it into your magazine layout and then the client asks for a 10×7 or a 24 sheet billboard. With digital being so easy, and file size seriously not an issue, there’s no excuse for pulling out a little and saving yourself grief and retouching dollars in post.

10. Happy, happy, happy. You’re happy, client’s happy, photographer’s happy. In that order. Never move on unless you’re happy. Then make sure that the client is happy. Then let the photographer change everything and get their shot. Everybody’s happy.

Written by Junior
Originally posted on: 19/03/2012