Commercial Photography Captured Remotely
After a year of uncertainty and widespread project delays, the classic saying, “the show must go on” remains true. Safely of course.
While most agencies and clients are still not traveling, my team has been figuring out ways to deliver a successful fully-remote commercial photography production that utilizes the existing technology that is afforded to any sized team.
Below is my team’s approach to delivering an amazing remote-production experience for a recent national production for Frontpoint Security.
5 Key Ingredients to a Remote Commercial Photography Production:
1.) Clear Deliverables
KEY: Strong Art Direction
One of the most important aspects actually happens before the shoot begins. A clear project vision and list of deliverables is key and only comes from super-focused art direction. We got to work with LIFT Agency‘s ace art director, Don Williams. As soon as we had our first pre-production call, we were able to stay focused and knew when we hit our target even without Don on set with us.
Don and his team at Lift Agency built a pre-production book that was super visually clear on their expectations for final deliverables. It listed out each individual shot, so there was nothing left to figure out on set. Scouting, props, and angles were able to be cleared before we started shooting, and his team kept us moving along quickly with real-time feedback as they followed along from across the country.
2.) Right-Sized Production
KEY: Team members who know their lane but are flexible to temporarily switch lanes.
My team can work really easily when we have a smaller footprint on set. It’s safe and clients can be in the comfort of their own home while still fully involved in the process. It’s important to assess who doesn’t actually need to be on set. For example, our post-production illustrator, Jeff Glotzl, actually prefers to work remotely from his new New England home. We had multiple days of shooting, two of which were in the studio. Jeff was able to provide input on camera setups, angles and lighting by logging into the Zoom call we had open the entire day of the shoot. Our camera was connected to a computer sharing its screen on Zoom, so Jeff was able to provide input on positioning of the products in real-time as he could see directly through the lens of our camera.
“COVID has made everyone more comfortable with that [remote] scenario. Why be there all day when I can just check in occasionally and get exactly what I need? I’ve done it this way for a long time, and I’m delighted clients are more on board now with me working remotely.”
– Jeff Glotzl, Glotzl Creative Media
3.) Remote-Focused File Management
KEY: Using Dropbox to create a two-way file delivery system
The digital asset management specialist at Stacks created a fully cloud-based workflow that made this entire project possible. Here is how we did it:
A. Create a shared Dropbox folder that was shared with the photographer, post-production, digital tech. Each team member needed to use the local folder feature, not the online-only option. This made the files physically on the hard drives of the team, so they would work seamlessly with their viewing/editing systems. (This also ensured the images were immediately backed up in 3 different states as soon as they were shot!)
B. Create an FPO (For Preview Only) folder up within the Dropbox folder.
This allowed Jeff with post-production to edit images, create mockups and save to an FPO folder that was shared with the client. It made for a super quick turnaround on feedback and approval of images before being polished and uploaded to a FINALS folder. No more file transfer emails being sent back and forth to the agency/client.
C. Clearly marked folders allowed for images to be moved through a process that was crystal clear to the team. There was a clear progression of assets through the folders until they landed in the FINALS folder and easily dragged and dropped into the client’s DAM (Digital Asset Management) system.
4.) Qualified Digital Tech
KEY: Capture One + Strong Internet
CaptureOne has a capture pilot feature, so our Digital Tech, Benny Haddad, could broadcast images live during shooting. The client was rating the images as we went with a “star system,” so we knew when we could move on to the next scene. By the end of the day, we had all of the selects from the clients ready to go.
“Working with Casey was great. It felt really safe and a totally new experience to work with so many people spread out around the country. It was actually really fun. I wouldn’t be sad if this was a workflow we kept going even without COVID needs.” – Benny Haddad, Digital Tech
5.) Immediate + Direct Feedback Loop
KEY: Zoom or another video conferencing software
We sent out a Zoom link to the client/agency, and our Digital Tech shared his screen all day. He was directly connected to the camera so they got a live view, and we also turned on the loudspeaker connected to the audio so everyone could hear the agency’s feedback and direction.
We took a reference frame of the scene and shared it so the client could react, and then we built the lighting around that. As the Set Designer began to do all of the scene creation, we’d send the client the shots to get the “green light” that we’d nailed the look and feel they were going for. I was then free to shoot the scene, and they could watch it live on their end with the ability to give feedback and direction.
“It was pretty seamless; they did a really good job of sharing shots virtually. The microphones in their ears allowed them to hear us as we directed them during setup. It was really like we were there.”
– Don Williams, Creative Director, Lift Agency
Want to work with a photographer on-set versus remotely?
Casey Templeton Photography can travel to you as well. While based out of Richmond, Virginia & Nashville, Tennessee, Casey Templeton Photography is able to get to whichever location you want your commercial photography taken across the U.S.