Lifestyle business photoshoot advice - photographer taking a photo

Lifestyle business photoshoot advice:

by the snapper, the webber and the magazine editor

A business photoshoot can elevate your marketing and publicity to the next level.

Read on to understand how to get your money’s worth, including what a leading lifestyle photographer and a magazine editor have to say. Plus some tips from me from a website and social media angle.

Bonus: There’s a FREE downloadable lifestyle business photoshoot advice checklist at the end.


Lifestyle business photoshoot advice from a photographer

Olivia Brabbs photographer

Olivia Brabbs is a commercial and advertising photographer who has been creating impactful brand visuals for over 13 years. Her clients include food production, creative, lifestyle and fashion and hospitality and heritage.

Planning: A photoshoot could save you money compared to buying stock photography

Investing in bespoke professional photography will:

  • Save you time – how long does your marketing team spend searching for the perfect stock image?
  • Guarantee images are on-brand
  • Ensure your locations and people are featured
  • Be exclusive to you. Unless you pay a lot of money, a competitor could use the very same stock image and there’s nothing you can do about it.

"This happened at a public sector body I was in. We used a particular image for 50,000 copies of an events guide. Then the local tourist board used a similar image from the same photoshoot – same models and location - for their brochure two months later."

- Helen, Ink Gardener

Planning: Accurate brief = accurate quote

Photographers aren’t mind readers – give them as much as information as you can. Take a look at your marketing plan and think about:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • How and where are you going to use the photos?
  • Think about the Where? Who? What? When? of a photoshoot

Planning: Make sure you’re using the right photographer

A commercial food photographer differs hugely from a local paper photographer. The first thought for a branding project for a wedding venue could be to commission a wedding photographer. However they are more used to taking photos of people rather than properties or food. So check they can cover your wider brief.

Want photos that could appear in a magazine? Look for a photographer with editorial experience and first-hand knowledge of shooting for magazine features.

How to find one? Ask your trusted partners for recommendations

Ask your marketing agency or web developer. They’ll be the ones using the images. It saves time if they work with people they already trust.

Planning: Is now the right time for a photoshoot?

Are you about to start on a major renovation or rebrand? Arrange a photoshoot after it’s completed.

If you don’t want a photoshoot full of seasonal decorations avoid Christmas, Valentine’s and Easter.

Planning: Don’t go off-piste on the day

A photographer will pre-plan a shoot to be as efficient as possible. Last-minute requests will impact what we can get through.

Costs: Licencing and use of images

The different fee structures for commercial photography include:

  • Photography fee – this covers the actual shoot and then the licensing
  • Creative fee – which includes pre-shoot production, photography, editing and usage rights

More complex images will have fees for retouch work in post production.

The copyright for any photo remains with the photographer. You’re buying the rights to use that image, and where you want to use it affects how much the licencing costs. The costs change if a photograph is used for:

  • Commercial product – such as a calendar
  • International brochure
  • Billboards
  • Magazines
  • Advertising
  • Point of Sale

If you’re a small businesses, it’s probably best to negotiate a package where you can use images on websites, social media, marketing content and editorial.

Costs: A day of photography ISN’T eight hours of taking photos

I’ll also spend time setting up gear, making an on-the-day light assessment, checking on subject’s wardrobe choices and putting them at ease.

Costs: How a photographer calculates their fees

In photography, one size doesn’t fit all. There are many variables such as:

  • Extra time if working with children, animals or specific environments
  • Hiring a photographic assistant for complex shoots
  • Model casting
  • Location scouting
  • Prop sourcing
  • Booking stylists
  • Impact of time spent styling, for example styling food
  • Location clearance permits

Costs: Would a retainer be better value?

If you’re a hotel and you invite a photographer back for four shoots a year, you’ll have every month covered after three years. Also less time researching means more time shooting!

On the day: Preparing your photoshoot environment

There’s no point paying a professional photographer to tidy up! Prepare by:

Offices

  • Removing other company branding – such as freebie mugs
  • Tidying away family photos
  • Removing out-of-date branding, such as logos or old calendars, on walls
  • Putting away client confidential information
  • Creating a clean and clutter-free background

Hospitality and restaurants

You want your environment to be as clean and fresh as possible so:

  • Ask housekeeping to give the rooms a little extra TLC
  • Have a member of housekeeping staff on hand during the shoot, in case extra products are needed for props, or for tidying up

Prepare your staff for a photoshoot

  • Ask people to wear plain colours and avoid overly fussy patterns
  • Ask them to wear underwear that compliments the outfit. Professional lighting can show up a black bra under light clothing.
  • Ask if people can bring three options for their top half – this helps when trying to harmonise with others in a group
  • Have a list of extra people you can call on quickly for a crowd scene
  • Maybe think about having a photoshoot on a training day, rather than a normal working day?

Want more ideas?

Olivia has written many useful blogs highlighting her style of photography, available on her website. Here are just some of them:


How to get the most out of your lifestyle business photoshoot – advice by a magazine editor

Catherine Turnbull magazine editor

Catherine Turnbull is a highly-respected and experienced journalist. She is the Editor of Yorkshire Living Magazines for York and North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Harrogate editions.

To be featured, you must have acceptable photos we can use

As an upmarket lifestyle magazine, Yorkshire Living is beautifully designed. We need to know you have suitable images before we can consider including your story. We will need:

  • Between four to eight images, depending on the size of the feature
  • As we work to layout templates, a combination of portrait and landscape ratios – as in mobile phone-shaped and TV-shaped images – works best
  • All images need to be 300 dpi (dots per inch) – see below for what this means
  • The images should be at least 3000 pixels high, in JPG format and at least 1MB in size
  • For features about artists, business people and the like we would prefer to use lifestyle images on location, rather than a headshot
  • We like to see products styled up, rather than just surrounded by white as if in a catalogue. So if you’re a wallpaper designer, we will need a photo showing your wallpaper in a room.

Dots per inch refers to the density of the tiny dots printed on paper to create certain colours. For websites and screens, these translate into pixels on a screen, and are the equivalent of 72 dpi. But for a sharp image in a magazine, it needs to be 300 dpi.

If you don't have enough dots, the image can look fuzzy in print.

The best way to send images

An email query with a link to DropBox or WeTransfer works better than huge email attachments.

What are the licensing terms of the photos?

Please make sure you have permission to use the photo under the licence agreement you made with the photographer. Do they need to be credited? Did you have a licence but it’s now run out? Was the photo only to be used for certain media?

If you don’t, and they find out, they can ask for additional payment from you.

For seasonal features, get your timing right

We work on a three-month lead-in time. Want to be in our Christmas edition? Get in contact by early October.

The more professional and beautiful your photos, the more likely we are to feature you

If you have professional photos, you might even become our front cover!


How to get the most out of your lifestyle business photoshoot advice - by a web content writer and social media manager

Freelance SEO copywriter Helen Reynolds

As in me, Helen Reynolds, this blog’s interviewer. In the past I’ve commissioned photoshoots. I now select and resize images as part of web content migration projects. When managing a client’s social media, an existing image library means I don’t have to spend time sourcing stock images.

Brief for a photoshoot that can be used by everyone

Don’t just arrange a photoshoot for one use, such as a specific marketing campaign. Think how it could help with images for:

  • Report front covers
  • Business reviews
  • Your website
  • Your social media
  • Press releases

Best time of year for a photoshoot?

Fact: any outdoor shoots involving countryside or trees could look wintry unless there are leaves on the trees. If possible, leave it until May.

Need good weather? Have a back-up plan

If you’re planning an outdoor shoot, have an alternative location ready in case it’s raining. If it has to be outside, have another date in the diary.

For UK landscape shots which need blue skies, you might be better giving a local photographer a roving commission. You can ask them to take sunny photos at the tail-end of other shoots, when they’re already on location.

Team photos

Think about who is going to be in the business in the long-term. One option is to have directors or founders presenting and people looking at them.

Give your colleagues plenty of warning

Never underestimate the vanity of humans! Give them lots of warning that they may be photographed. There might also be some disruption should furniture need to be moved. Maybe you could book a meeting room for people to work in if they’re on a deadline?

Want photos of staff working? Choose your personalities

Photos of people working can lead to really natural images. However, if you think certain staff members might be tricky about being photographed, focus on other team members. Or ask for volunteers who are fine with being in front of the camera.

Need lots of models?

Ask for volunteers from your staff, friends and family and agree with the photographer that they can have copies of any photos taken. I once organised a morning at a playground with staff and their children. It looked really natural, was a fun well-being exercise and saved us hundreds of pounds in modelling fees.

Be on the photoshoot to help with logistics

If the shoot involves corralling staff or props, be there to help the photographer. They can then concentrate on getting great shots.

Brief your photographer for website and social media images

The ideal photoshoot would provide:

  • Landscape ratios – long and thin, TV shaped images – are best for web headers, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – rather than portrait
  • Portrait ratios are best for Instagram which can be cropped down to a square
  • High contrast areas – where white or dark text can be added afterwards
  • Clean images with the minimum of clutter
  • People wearing plain colours and no logos, as these date a photo
  • Avoid cars and car number plates, as these date a photo
  • If you’re planning on cropping images in the future for in-house graphics, ask that the photographer doesn’t shoot a blurry foreground. For example shooting through leaves can give a fuzzy green outline which looks strange when cropped
  • Colour photos – unless that’s the brief. Monochrome can be very effective for some brands when part of a wider marketing strategy. But on social media black and white can appear quite stark.
  • Include specific object photos, not just ‘the big picture’ – for example a vase on a table, rather than just everyone sat around a table. Or the saddle on a horse, not just a group of riders.

Understand you won’t get the photos straight away

The photographer will edit the photoshoot but this will take time. So be patient.

Storing photos

If re-naming every file is too much work, at least store them in folders which will make sense to everyone. ’14 Feb 2020 photoshoot’ isn’t helpful. ‘Food – Feb 2020’, ‘Restaurant – Feb 2020’, ‘Reception – 2020’ is.

Want more guidance about copyright?

Check out my blog: How to legally use photos on a website


Get your FREE lifestyle business photoshoot advice download

Click the button for a 2 page checklist to make sure you cover everything!

FREE photoshoot advice checklist (PDF)

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