Pre-production is the process of planning and carrying out all tasks that must be completed before production begins. The director, director of photography, producers, first assistant secretary, product managers, manufacturing coordinators, as well as location scouts are usually involved once the script is completed in cinematography.
Every project is unique, depending on the budget and size of the production, as well as the number of people involved, but there are some general guidelines to follow:
Figure out what you need.
Determine the cost.
Hire help as needed.
As you can see, pre-production requires a significant amount of effort. Consider it this way: the more effort you put into this stage, the more likely your production will run smoothly. It is acceptable to solve problems ahead of time; however, waiting until you arrive on set is not. As a result, production management software becomes a valuable asset. The essence of a successful shoot is to keep everything centralized and organized.
The Steps to Pre-Production
Knowing Your Client
This may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how well-cared-for your client will feel when you ask thoughtful, honest questions about their background, brand, and product.
A phone call, FaceTime session, or even a Google Survey can be beneficial. Examine their social media and website with a critical eye so you can tailor questions to them.
Establishing trust begins with demonstrating that you have a basic understanding of their brand. Having a thorough understanding of your client's brand ensures that you can capture material in an authentic manner. Rather than asking a vague question, be specific.
The Detailed Shot List
If you only remember one thing from this chapter, make it this one. A shot list not only ensures that nothing falls through the cracks during the chaos of shoot day, but it also speaks to any prop and equipment sourcing that is required.
A well-planned shot list will make your studio day run much more smoothly. As photographers, we understand what it's like to become lost in the moment during a shoot. Give your detailed plan to another person on set to add an extra layer of responsibility that will ensure that all critical assets are captured.
Content providers in every sector seek inspiration, whether from the work of others or from their surroundings. Even if your personal style is well-defined, gathering inspiration for a project can serve as a good starting point for developing a style with your client.
Be selective and specific. This isn't the time for a discussion that goes on forever. All inspiration, such as how the subjects are posed, how light is designed, or how a product or clothing is styled, should serve a purpose. When in doubt, leave it out.
Also, look for planning opportunities. It's the worst feeling in the world to be on set and realize something is missing. Sourcing inspiration can bring into focus items that need to be planned ahead of time, such as backgrounds, flowers, clothing items, and so on.
Coordination with the Team
Have you ever been on a set where members of the team are either checked out or there are too many cooks in the kitchen? It doesn't look good. Do yourself a favor and assign different roles so that every team member understands their responsibilities.
Before you show up on set, introduce yourself to everyone. It takes only a few minutes to send an introduction email to all major suppliers and personnel working in your shoot, and it goes a long way toward making everyone feel at ease and included. And everyone is curious about who is bringing the coffee!
Don't forget to assign roles. Who is the point person for steaming outfits, sourcing props, purchasing lunch, keeping track of your timeline and shot list, or spotting a misplaced lock of hair? These minor details are easy to overlook if no one on the team is assigned to them.
The Call Sheet
When you're in the middle of a creative session in the photo studio, taking a break to answer questions can kill your creativity. Having a cast list and shoot timeline on hand for your crew to refer to throughout the day ensures that everyone is aware of where to look and what to expect initially if they have a question. Timelines are so useful that I suggest you take a screenshot and save it as your phone's lock screen for quick reference.
The timeline is an essential component of organizing your photoshoot because it ensures that the day stays on track and that every important aspect of the session is captured for the client.
The Beginning of the Shoot
Typically, a project plan could be dispersed across multiple emails, to-do lists, notepads, and laptop folders. A central project management plan consolidates these artifacts into a single, easily accessible location. A clear, empowering, and informative brief gives photographers direction and structure to produce their best work.
Background information, objectives, milestones, references, and details about the target market are all common components of photography briefs. What do you want your images to say? Do you have a particular theme or vision in mind? Use emotive language to convey the style and mood you want to achieve, and make a list of any specific shots you require. This helps the photographer organize their shot list, equipment, props, and talent prior to the shoot day.
Setting Up Your Shots
Prioritize Your Subject
Don't try to capture everything in a single shot. If there are multiple potential subjects in the frame, decide which one takes precedence and concentrate on it.
Do you value the person or the landscape more? The two should not be pitted against each other. If it's a landscape, make sure no key aspects are obscured by the person. Consider moving them to the left or right. If a person is your focus, bring them closer to the camera so you can see their face clearly, and use the landscape as a beautiful backdrop.
Before you click, look around your frame to make sure you're not missing anything important (The top of a hill? The top of a human?). Make a natural border by leaving some space around the subject. When in doubt, provide more rather than less space. Cropping a photo later is easier than Photoshopping an arm back in.
And remember, don’t try to highlight everything in one shot. One photo can’t capture everything.
Don’t Shoot into a Light Source
Unless you're careful, your subject will be backlit, and the light will wash out the entire image. If you really want to capture the image and the light source isn't too bright, you can use a flash to illuminate the topic in front of the light source. This works occasionally, but not always. It can appear artificial. Light hitting a subject at an angle, on the other hand, can produce some stunning effects and contrasts.
Put Your Subject in Focus
Perhaps you're looking at the person, but the sensor has chosen to blur them out and concentrate on what's in the background. Before you click, double-check. You can use a solid surface or tripod to stabilize the camera if necessary.
Consider Variations of Color, Texture, and Light
If what's in your picture lacks contrast in at least one of these places, your picture will look flat.
Optimize Your Frames
Look for items that can be used as frames for the subjects in your photos. Although a window or a side door are more obvious choices, don't limit yourself. Consider thinking outside the box. Shooting through a bike frame or a gap between a group of objects can result in an unexpected and intriguing shot.
Now we shift to the most important aspect of photography: the subject.