If you’re investing in a professional photographer to enhance your visual marketing, a detailed shot list helps you make the most of your time. A photography shot list outlines all the images you want to capture, along with detailed notes describing their framing, color, composition, and more.
In this post, I’m going to break down everything you need to know about a photography shot list. Continue reading to learn what a shot list is, why they’re important, what to consider before creating one, and how to create one.
What Is A Shot List In Commercial Photography?
A shot list is a detailed outline of every image that a photographer should capture during the duration of a commercial photoshoot. It’s a plan crafted between you and your photographer that sets you up for a successful engagement.
Whether you’re a small business owner in charge of everything or an art director at a major corporation, it’s crucial to work with the photographer when building a collaborative shot list. If you’ve done your due diligence and found the right photographer for your project, you might have outlined a general list of shots you’d like to capture in your initial communication. A shot list takes planning to the next level.
Why Is A Shot List Important For Your Business And Brand?
While high-quality, professional images are key to visually marketing your brand, some business owners view photography as an additional expense. In reality, it is an investment and you want to get the most out of your money and time.
A thorough shot list ensures that your photo shoot will maximize the time you have and leave you with more than enough images in your asset library.
A few additional reasons why a shot list is important include:
- Make sure that you’re on the same page as your photographer: Again, this is probably covered in the initial communication you have with a photographer. If there’s any concern that the photographer doesn’t understand what you’re looking for, a shot list details each and every image that you can expect to receive from your session.
- Define what you need to engage with customers every step of the way: As you and the photographer draft a shot list, you can think about and clearly define what types of images are more likely to resonate with consumers and lead them to connect emotionally with your business.
- Keep branding consistent across your image library: Creating a visual brand relies on a consistent look for every image – incorporating brand colors and providing an authentic representation of your business. When creating a shot list, you can get specific about framing, lighting, color design, and other components to ensure that all of your final images are on brand.
What To Consider Before Creating A Shot List
Before you connect with your photographer to create your shot list, spend some time compiling a list of considerations to address.
Some questions to ask yourself include:
- What are you going to use the photos for?: Are you looking for a cohesive set of images to launch a specific marketing campaign with? Do you need portraits and commercial lifestyle images of your staff and office to create a new website or update your existing site? The specific use of images informs the type of shots you’ll need.
- What types of images do you need to be on brand?: If you’re an outdoor brand, you might want all of your images to live outside. That means employee headshots, product photos, and lifestyle photos should be set in the outdoors. Whatever you feel is more important for your photos to match your brand identity, make sure to decide and bring it up with your photographer.
- Do you want any specialty shots or unique compositions?: If you want a header image with room for labels, you’ll want to call that out. If you don’t, you could find that none of the images for your session work as a header. Calling out any shots that require additional framing or thought helps to avoid making costly mistakes on the day of the shoot.
- Do you need any props, location scouting, or travel accommodations?: If you have a manufacturing facility overseas and want to highlight your workers in a marketing campaign, you’ll need to address the necessary travel accommodations to make it possible. Any props you need to acquire, locations you need to view, or travel accommodations you need to make should be considered before you get to the phase of creating a shot list.
What Does A Shot List Need To Contain For A Business Photoshoot?
Though you want to outline each and every specific shot, there are multiple overarching categories that you can group individual shots into. In the sections below, I’ll highlight the different types of shots you might find on a shot list.
Business Headshots and Professional Portraits
Headshots and portraits are useful for introducing personality and relatability to your brand. Introducing your employees and incorporating their personalities into marketing images and promotional materials helps to build an emotional connection with consumers.
Though headshots and portraits can be interchangeable in conversation, they are not the exact same thing.
- Headshots are more formal, yet modern and casual compared to traditional headshots. They’re typically framed from the waist or shoulders up, looking toward the camera, and incorporating some type of blurred background. You might use headshots for your staff directories, individual team profiles, profile pictures for social media, or your internal communication system.
- Portraits are relaxed, allowing for different postures or framing decisions to show more personality and engage viewers. Portraits can be used for about me pages, social media posts, and external media and public relations opportunities.
Commercial Lifestyle Shots
Commercial lifestyle images showcase different components of your business in a relatable, engaging fashion. There’s a wide range of commercial lifestyle opportunities, including:
- General shots of employees interacting at the office
- Examples of customers using your product or service
- Action shots of employees working together or interacting with customers
- Behind-the-scenes shots of events, office work, team events, and more
- Any image that exemplifies your brand
You’ll be able to use commercial lifestyle shots for your general website imagery, social media posts, employee recruitment, print and digital advertisements, and more. Commercial lifestyle photos can be used to help shape consumer perception of your business through your brand image.
If your business operates in a corporate setting, you can capture the tone of your organizational brand through imagery. Some of these shots overlap with commercial lifestyle, just in the corporate setting.
Some examples of corporate imagery include:
- Employees collaborating in a corporate setting
- General landscape photos of the campus
- Images of the physical office space
- Corporate events or industry conferences
If you’re advertising a specific product or service, or generally marketing your business, you need a set of images that persuade or entice the consumer. Again, there can be a crossover between these shots and commercial lifestyle – as well as product photos.
Creating advertising scenes that sell your product or service – or a feeling consumers associate with it – is an example of commercial lifestyle crossing over to an advertising image. For example, a pharmaceutical product might have an advertising photo that exemplifies the feeling of good health after successful treatment.
You can use advertising shots for digital and print advertisements, online marketing materials, specific campaigns, and more.
Product photos can be part of a commercial photo shoot or an entirely independent session on its own. Product photos are especially useful if you have an e-commerce store, as they showcase products in great detail, highlighting specific features and functionality.
You can use product photos for e-commerce product listings, product pages, social media posts, product launches, specific campaigns, and print and digital ads.
Travel and Industrial Shots
If your company operates globally or has industrial facilities, you can capture the elements of your brand that make it diverse via travel and industrial photography. If you have multiple locations, travel to each location where your business operates and capture the culture and diversity of your brand.
You can take consumers inside the field, facility, or other type of industrial setting. Highlighting manufacturing facilities, packaging plants, and other distribution centers showcases the ecosystem that drives your brand forward.
Both travel and industrial shots require on-location shooting, travel expenses, location scouting, and additional costs. You can use images to build the visual elements of your website, social media posts, location pages, and blog posts.
If you’re planning a commercial video production, you can double down on your investment and hire a production stills photographer to capture still images on-set. Whether you’re marketing a specific product or a general promotional push for your brand, the combination of photo and video results in a complete campaign.
Pairing stills with video also increases the longevity and profits of your commercial video project. You can use stills for general website imagery, print and digital ads, and social media.
How To Create A Shot List For Your Corporate Photoshoot
Now that you know the types of shops that could be included in your shot list, it’s time to break down the process of creating a shot list. In the sections below, I’ll go step-by-step – taking you from a blank piece of paper to a complete, detailed shot list.
1. List The Types Of Shots You Need
As you get into the nitty-gritty, you should group your needs by the image categories we discussed above. If you prefer, you can separate individual shots by whatever category you choose. Maybe you want to separate by use case – think general imagery, specific product launch, marketing campaign, etc.
Whatever you land on, it’s important that you create a hierarchal organization to build a robust, detailed shot list.
2. List Individual Shots You Want For Each Type
Once you’ve determined your organizational categories, start listing the specific shots that you want the photographer to capture. While you’ve likely had the shots in your mind, it’s extremely helpful to lay them out on paper – specifically separating each individual shot by the category it lies in.
If you list out every shot that you think you need but don’t put in the work to organize them into structured categories, you risk missing important images.
3. Add Details For Clarity And Precision
Aside from expressing the technical components of the shot, you can leave notes that help the photographer understand what you’re trying to get out of a shot or what you’re looking for.
If you want an emotional advertising scene, you should detail what type of emotion the viewer should feel, how each individual in the scene should be staged, or how you plan to crop or edit the image for its intended use.
4. Provide Lighting, Background, Prop, Location, And Other Important Information
Primarily for the photographer, the shot list should include information about lighting, background setting, props, location, and any other important information. As you work with your photographer, make sure every detail is vocalized so you don’t miss anything.
For example, if you have a product launch that you want accompanied by a purple hue it’s important to access lighting and assign a wardrobe that matches the desired vision.
Business Photography Shot List Example
If you’re still not 100% certain what a shot list should look like, I’ll drop an example below. This is an example shot list for a local law firm with a relatively tight budget. It’s also extremely brief – most shot lists will be much more robust in order to capture every image desired.
Category: Portraits and Headshots
- Shot type: Individual headshots of each staff member
- Details: Set outside of the office with a natural background, semi-formal attire
- Shot type: Portrait of managing partner 1
- Details: Try to capture a friendly, welcoming vibe
- Shot type: Portrait of managing partner 2
- Details: Capture professionalism and attention to detail with them sitting at their desk, diligently focused on a task at hand
- Shot type: Team portrait
- Details: All of the staff in one modern, professional shot to showcase the team in one image.
Category: Commercial Lifestyle
- Shot type: Wide shot of employees interacting within the office
- Details: The image should look natural and promote collaboration within the office, highlighting how the team works together to make the best case for any client.
- Shot type: Managing partner meeting with client
- Details: Portray a personable, caring experience that leaves potential clients confident that they’ll have a meaningful experience.
- Shot type: Landscape shot of the firm’s main lobby
- Details: Capture the welcoming yet organized, professional environment with modern design
- Shot type: Empty conference room
Shot List And Beyond: Other Important Information For A Successful Photoshoot
While I tried to get all of my thoughts into the sections above, I have a few more nuggets of information and thoughts to share with you. These are important bits of information that you may overlook as a client of a photographer.
- Location scouting and timeline prep: You don’t want to go into a photoshoot blind. Make sure that you’ve visited any additional locations that you plan to shoot at. For you and your employees’ best interest, create a timeline of how you envision the day going. By establishing an agenda, you hold your team accountable to a specific chunk of time and avoid interrupting day-to-day operations.
- Licensing and photo usage agreements: Make sure that you discuss with your photographer who owns the usage rights to the photos. Typically, you as the client will own the rights – however, you don’t want to risk a miscommunication.
- Image and file types: If you’re unsure, ask your photographer what file types are best for your specific use of the images. If you’re simply looking for photos for social media, there’s no need to ask for a TIFF file.
- Creating and managing an asset library: Organizing and storing all of your images and visual assets is vital to your success. You don’t want to just throw all of the images onto a hard drive with no folders. Consider using a digital asset management (DAM) system to clearly organize all of your assets so anyone who needs can access them with ease.
Schedule An Efficient Business Photoshoot With Casey Templeton Photography
Now you should have a better understanding of what a shot list is and how important it is to plan out your photo shoot to get the most out of your investment. Collaborating with your photographer, and strategically planning your shot list helps to highlight your needs and goals.
Casey Templeton Photography offers professional corporate photography, working in various industries and with businesses of all sizes. Casey has years of technical training and experience in the field, along with a robust understanding of the relationship between photography and corporate branding. To learn more about photography shot lists or to get the ball rolling on a project, fill out a contact form.