HOW TO WRITE A KILLER CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY BRIEF TEMPLATE
Commissioned photography work that includes professional photo shoots are very much a part of almost any company’s marketing and advertising day to day activities. No surprise, you have chosen to engage a professional photographer.
Remarkable visual imagery, photos and pictures that are well produced have the power to increase customer awareness and preference for your brand and ultimately lead them to become loyal customers and brand ambassadors. Marketers like you also use powerful images to offer inspiration to customers and change their purchase behaviour. Powerful imagery can persuade your customers to buy more premium, more often and more quantity.
There is no doubt professional photography services have become integral to the way brands communicate with audiences. Up until few years ago, utilising professional photographers was the only option for great photography. Noticeably, though, there has been a shift in the way fantastic photography is sourced. Well known influencers, industry leaders, citizens and customers can also be a source of visual imagery for your business.
Still professional marketing managers like you, brand managers, business owners and advertising professionals need to know how to write creative photography briefs and proposals with detailed instructions and get fantastic photography work done at the right time with the right copyrights, utilise and own photographs taken by professional photographers, influencers, content creators, visual artists and more.
To ensure photo shoot sessions are not only successful but also you are aware of your rights of usage, professionals – like YOU – should ensure photographers receive from you a creative photography brief specifying the exact type of photos needed, the copyrights you want and the creative results you are after.
Having your creative photography brief clearly understood by your chosen photographer is even more important when access to your talent and locations are physical limited and no accessible at other point in time. Writing a proper photography brief document help you minimise errors and also provide photographers with amazing ideas and proposals.
Below are our top tips and key important areas when briefing a photographer.
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eDIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY BRIEF TEMPLATE – SECTIONS
✔ Objectives and Goals
✔ Marketing Channels
✔ Talent Requirement
✔ Images Technical Specs
✔ Creative Examples
✔ Inspiration Board
✔ Creative Brief
✔ Location Details
✔ Photography Copyrights
✔ Shooting Dates
✔ Final Photo Delivery Details
✔ Payment Instructions
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BENEFITS OF A CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY BRIEF FOR A PHOTO SHOOT
The goal when writing a creative photography brief is to allow your chosen photographer to:
- Understands your exact imagery requirements, your brand, your business goals and target market.
- Let your photographer knows exactly how the images are going to be used (in which context and for what purpose)
- Help your photographer and producer deliver an extraordinary work for you with no hassle at the right time and on budget.
Some of the top benefits of a well written creative photography brief includes:
- Deliver the right creative images you need.
- Reduce any misinterpretations.
- Ensure expectations from both parties (client and photographer) are clear.
- Agree on the exact image copyrights and legalities.
- Agree on timings.
- Agree on location and talent specifications.
BEFORE WRITING A PHOTOGRAPHY PROPOSAL
Before you write your killer creative photography brief; it is important that you:
- Ensure your chosen photographer has demonstrable experience photographing your industry and ideally your chosen photographer a buyer of your product/service. Some photographers might be extraordinary in a specific type of photography but not in all types of photography. Every industry requires different photographic skills and bring different challenges. Some photographers’ experience might focused on fashion, nature, landscape, portrait, christening, weddings, food or corporate photography.
- Some social media influencers are also creative producers/photographers. Hiring social media influencers via a social media influencer platform for your next photo shoot not only will give you access to great imagery but also they have the power to promote your new photos and campaign to their audiences.
Please find below a the points you should follow when writing a creative brief for a photo shoot done by an photographer.
STEPS – HOW TO WRITE A CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY BRIEF
1. Set clear objectives and goals on your creative photography brief
You want photos for a specific reason! A creative brief will let your photographer know the exact reasons you want creative images and photos and the exact actions/activities you will be using your new imagery for.
You should write exactly what you want to achieve (measurable goals-objectives). Remember, visuals are mainly to be used to create a “feeling” that no text, stats or any other rational element can convey.
Before approaching your preferred photographer, please have clear the answers to the below questions:
- What do I want people to feel when watching my new set of photos?
- How unique the new photos need to be to stand out from the millions already published on the internet, social media, blogs, print (newspaper/magazines/journals), billboards and any other channels?
- What is the main call to action? What do I want people to do once they have seen the photos? Do I want them to call your business? Email your business? “like” the photo? subscribe to your blog? Download a guide? Buy a specific product? Send an enquiry? Book a session?
Below are some examples of what you might need new photos for:
- Use photos for a print campaign. Let your photographer know about the specific newspaper/magazine, any specific rules/instructions they might have when delivering the final image. Also a great idea is to show your photographer other images on that magazine/newspaper that you believe are great so the photographer has a feeling on the type of images you are after.
- Promote the photos on your social media channels. Ensure your photographer is aware of the type of photos and style your brand uses via social media. You might also want to provide examples of your best (most liked- most shared photos) so the photographer knows what has worked for you.
- Use them as part of the decoration of your office, shop, etc. Brief your photographer about the image size and material you will be using when printing on large scale. Also you might want to invite your photographer to inspect the wall or area where the photo will be displayed. Photographers might want to check the area, the natural light and ensure the colours will match. Your photographer might be able to suggest the best location, size needed for your printed large-scale image.
- Use photos on the products you sell. Specify to your photographer about the exact type of product(s) the image will be shown and the size and material (i.e. packaging) where the image will be printed. The photographer might recommend a specific image for the type of size and material you will be printed on.
- Use photos on your promotional material. You might want to use the photos on your product package, flyer, business card, brochure, a power point presentation. Brief your photographer on the exact products where the photos will be used. The photographer might suggest images with less or more elements on them depending on the type of promotional material.
2. Specify Media platforms for photographs to be used
Let your photographer know about the exact media platforms you will be promoting the photos. Normally if photos are ONLY used for social media or a website, the image size/quality resolution does not need to be as excellent as when using them for print, large scale posters or billboards. Photographers will generally charge less if photos are to be used ONLY for the internet.
3. Define Photography Image Copyrights
RULE OF THUMB FOR MARKETERS – DO NOT INFRINGE. In the US, a photographer does own the copyright the moment he/she presses the shutter. But damages for willful infringement are generally capped at the market value. When photographers register their image with the US Copyright Office, they can be awarded up to $150,000 per image for a willful infringement plus legal costs. Photographers can still register a photo even after it’s been infringed. In this scenario, photographers just lose some rights that they would have if registered before the infringement, which is the right to statutory damages and collecting their lawyer fees.
In Australia – for example – for photos taken on or after 30 July 1998, the general rule on ownership depends on the purpose for which the photographs were taken:
- if the photos were taken for “private or domestic purposes” (such as family portraits, or wedding photos), the first owner of copyright in them is the client, unless the photographer and client agree otherwise; however
- if they were taken for any other purpose (e.g. commercial shots), the photographer will be the first owner of copyright, unless the photographer and client agree otherwise.
You also have the option to agree with our photographer on the right level of “Copyrights” needed. Photographers might charge you different depending on which of the below copyright option you require.
- Full Copyrights. You (the client) own the photos. This is great when you want to use the photos for commercial purposes. Example: print them on t-shirts/postcards/calendars/posters you sell or a massive national billboard campaign you are about to launch. Price: PREMIUM – Photographers will charge you premium price as they are giving away the copyrights to your business.
- Specific Platform rights + industry exclusive rights + perpetual time rights. Photographer will own the copyrights and offer you the rights to use the photo for a specific platform (either internet, outdoor or print), industry exclusive rights ( Photographer will NOT sell the same photo to your industry competitors) and give you perpetual time rights (unlimited time to use the image). On this agreement, you cannot sell the photo or use the photo as the main element on product/service you are aiming to sell. Price: HIGH – Photographer will charge you high price as we are giving you the right to use the image at any point of time.
- Specific Platform rights + industry exclusive rights + time specific. Photographer will own the copyrights and offer you the rights to use the photo for a specific platform (either internet, outdoor or print), industry exclusive rights ( Photographer will NOT sell the same photo to your industry competitors) and give you a specific time frame to use the photo. On this agreement, you cannot sell the photo or use the photo as the main element on a product/service you sell. Price: MEDIUM
- Specific Platform rights + industry non- exclusive rights + time specific. Photographer will own the copyrights and offer you the rights to use the photo for a specific platform (either internet, outdoor or print), Photographer will be able to sell the photo to your competitors and give you a specific time frame to use the photo. On this agreement, you cannot sell the photo or use the photo as the main element on a product/service you sell. Price: LOWEST OF ALL OPTIONS.
- Rights for “transformative” work. In certain instances, you (the client) want to ensure you have the rights to “alter” a photograph with a new expression, meaning, or message. This is called “transformative work”. You want that new photograph to be used for either promotional material including – for example – an exhibition catalogue, a billboard, or in a post on Twitter. Make sure you include this into your copyright agreement.
Want to know about image copyrights in Australia, you should read the Photographers and Copyright Guide from the Australian Copyrights Council.
4. Decide on exact photoshoot date and time.
If it is public holiday, night time or a weekend day, photographers might charge you more. If your photo shoot is outdoors, ensure you describe to your photographer your plan in case of bad weather conditions, rain, etc.
5. Confirm exact shooting location/address.
Describe to your photographer the location settings. How is the lighting available? Is it natural light? Artificial light? What sort of resources are available within the location that might help within the photo shoot. Can the photographer inspect the location before shooting date? If it is an outdoor setting you might want to email some photos of the setting to your photographer and specify how the sunlight might sit at the time of the shooting. Checking your proposed location before the shooting is ideal however this might increase the quote from the photographer. If you are hiring the location (venue), you might want to find out any restrictions that the photographer needs to be aware of. A good idea is to ensure photographer and talent have instructions on how to get to the location to ensure everyone is on time. Let the photographer and talent know who to call if they get lost.
6. Propose exact final photos delivery date.
Photographers might quote higher if the date is too close to the shooting date as their pipeline of work might be busy with other paid assignments.
7. Instruct how the photos need to be delivered – channel/format
Would you like the photos delivered online platforms such as Dropbox, Yousendit? If so, please add in the brief the correct email address you want to be notifed when photos are ready to be download. If you prefer giving an external hard drive to our photographer, thats fine, just add in the brief the date you will be dropping it off. Photographers might like the later as it might be a faster process depending on how quick is their internet connection.
8. Confirm the amount of final photos needed.
Agree on the amount of photos you to be delivered. Some photographers might not give you all the photos taken as some might be test photos and others might not be as good. It is imperative that you agree on the final amount of “best” photos to be delivered.
Tip: Remember customers do not have time to see a set of a 50 photos. You might want to be better fully promote the best 10 rather than publishing a set of 50 photos. Some photographers work with clients who are happy to get just 5-10 photos and then select a couple to be promoted. Obviously there are cases where you might want more than 10 photos; a good example is a wedding where you would like – lets say – the best 100 photos. Possibly no more than that before the photographer might be seen as an annoyance for your guests.
9. Define exact photo file types and resolution quality
Do you need NEF (Raw), JPEG, GIF, PNG? what exact image size -height and width. Important! Are the photos going to be edited/manipulated by a professional re-toucher? In that case you might need to brief your photographer to give you raw type photos.
10. Give full information and examples on the creative brief.
Things to consider are:
- Shooting angles. Do you want the photos to be taken from a specific angle. You might need to do a test with your photographer before using your paid talent. Is there any extra equipment required to get the angles right? ladder, etc.
- Talent. Are you getting the talent to sign release forms? or do you need the photographer to find talent and get release forms signed? What’s your plan if talent does NOT show up? Would the photographer charge you any fee if the shoot needs to be cancelled or postpone? Get this clear on your brief.
- Exact people. If you are running an event, ensure you brief your photographer about the exact key people you need images of. Also, do you want photos full body, upper body or only faces? Do you want people together or separate? Do you want photos of people in front of a specific wall that might have your brand printed.
- Define colours. Do you want the new photos to follow your brand colours or brand guidelines? Which colours? What exact colour need to stand out? Do you need the photos black and white? full colour? sephia? You need to define this so your photographer knows about this.
- Uniqueness. What elements can you bring to make my new photos so unique? Can you bring talent/people never shot before? Unique costumes? Unique background? Unique make up? Your photographer might assist you to create a unique composition.
- Background. Do you need a clean background to accommodate for text/logo? What text/logo is going to be added into the background? Will there be any other images/illustrations added next to your new photos? Which ones?. This is important as your photographer will prepare the shoot to allow for a clean background to accommodate for your text.
- Assistants. You might wan to list people who might be present during the shoot. Example: other photographers, videographers, assistants, kids, babies, etc. This way, photographer is not surprise and expect the people in advance.
- Printing. Do you need the photos to be printed? If so, please add in your brief the exact material, size you want your photos to be printed. Some photographers work with local printing houses so they can put you in touch with them.
- Borders. Do you want final photos with a specific border? which colour? any examples? Add this into your brief.
- Blurring. Do yo want photos to have some sort of blur around the main subjects?
- Complementary elements. Do you want a specific element to be part of some of the photos: table, chair, tree, car, horse? etc. Add this into your brief so your photographer knows about this. Photographers cannot simply “guess” the elements you want. It is important you writ this down as it might impact the shooting.
TIP: Create and share a Pinterest board with your photographer so he can see the type of images you are after.
11. Instruct how the photographer will be paid – payment
In the photography proposal you will be writing, you should instruct your photographer in advance how you are going to pay (cash, credit card, direct bank transfer) for the session and photos. Also provide the date for photographer to send you the first invoice. You might want to ask your photographer for a discount if you pay full price in advance. Some photographers are freelancers and will not mind to give you a discount if you can bring them the full cash $ in advance.
Don’t wait and get your photography brief template today!
12. Understand what goes on from a photographer perspective
Below is a list of all the things a photographer will be thinking when creating a proposal for you. It is important that you understand all the points a professional photographer needs to consider when giving you a quote for the photographic project.
- Creative/Licensing Fees: Photographers might apply a discount for the additional images that are not used for paid advertising such as for web collateral use, social media organic posts, etc.
- Photographer Travel/Scout Days: The photographer would travel in and scout the location prior to the shoot day, and then fly back home the day after the shoot. He, therefore, can include some travel/scout days.
- First Assistant/Digital Tech and Second Assistant: Professional photographers generally have a first assistant who could double as his digital tech, and they can include a specific daily expense for them with an additional fee for a small workstation. Additionally, they can include a second assistant to help with grip/lighting.
- Producer and Production Assistant: Photographers can include two or three prep days (including the time to go scout the location), one shoot day and one wrap day for the producer to line up a crew and coordinate the project from start to finish. Additionally, photographers can include two days for a production assistant; one day to help either the producer or photographer prior to the shoot and one day for the shoot.
- Hair/Makeup and Wardrobe Styling: Depending on the initial scope of the photographic project and the amount of talent required, your photographer might included two hair/makeup stylists, rather than a stylist with an assistant, as they might need an experienced team to help move the styling process along as fast as possible. As for the wardrobe, the producer and photographer will need to decide which talent would need to have clothing sourced for them, while the secondary/extra talent would provide their own wardrobe. Within the final photography proposal, photographers might include three prep/shop days and one shoot day for the wardrobe stylist while anticipating that their assistant would be on-site for the shoot, and then handle wardrobe returns after the shoot. Photographers might include specific fees for the wardrobe per talent.
- Casting and Talent: Rather than doing a live casting, a photography project quote can include a specific fee to cover an additional day for the producer to handle a digital casting process. This included reaching out to multiple local talent agencies, organising headshots and web galleries of talent for the client to consider, negotiating rates and booking the chosen talent. The quote you get from a photographer might include a higher fee for each principle talent, and a lower for each extra secondary talent.
- Production RV: While the shooting location might offer enough space for all of the crew/talent/client to stay comfortably, photographers might anticipate that the hair/makeup stylists would need a space to prep the talent, and the wardrobe stylists would need an area to spread out the clothing. Also, photographers might anticipate that an RV would be a nice area to get as many cooks out of the kitchen as possible, and if needed, it would serve as a private space with wifi where the client could escape from the production. A photoshoot project might include a specific fee for gas/mileage, travel time, generator run time, dumping fees, and other misc. expenses that RV’s typically charge for.
- Equipment: The photographer might plan to capture most of the photographs with the available light in an effort to keep the bottom line down, however in some cases, photographers can add a fee for additional specific expense for bringing specific equipment.
- Travel Expenses: Round trip tickets to/from the location are normal to be quoted. Photographers can also include baggage fees for the outgoing and return trips. accommodation fees, car rental expenses, and a fee per diem for the days the photographer would be traveling.
- Craft/Catering: Your photographer might include a fee for a light, quick lunch and snacks for crew members, talent and client/agency representatives.
- Mileage, Parking, Additional Meals: Photographers can include a mileage fee for crew members to travel to/from the location. Fees for meals and expenses that the wardrobe stylist and their assistant would incur while shopping for clothing. A fee for miscellaneous expenses and a fee for additional meals for a client/agency pre-production meeting and a client dinner after the shoot.
- Production Supplies: This includes a fee for table and chair rentals, tent rentals, floor protection and cleaning supplies, and a fee for miscellaneous supplies.
- Shoot Processing for Client Review fees: This covered the photographer’s time to organise all of the assets and create an initial gallery of images for the client to review.
- Post Processing: your photographer can include a specific fee per image for basic colour correction, file cleanup and delivery of the images.
- Dealing with other creative sources: if you are the client and wants to bring your ad agency to provide further creative direction and help move the project along. Make sure the input from your agency is in line with yours so they do not bring different expectations for the production that weren’t originally prescribed by you (as a client).
- Un-expected requirements will burn more budget. if you as a client wants a higher level of production, lets say you hope your photographer can shoot throughout the night, rather than shooting throughout the afternoon and into the early evening hours as originally anticipated. Your ad agency also wanted the location to appear as if it were daytime, and have sun coming in through the windows. This means your photographer will need to bring on a grip and a gaffer with a grip truck to rig up large continuous lights outside of the windows. Only this exercise can easily take thousands of dollars of production fees (some $ for the gaffer, $ for the grip and $ in grip/lighting equipment, trucking, generators and misc. expenses). Additionally, this meant that the photographer will need to feed everyone in a more robust way and ensure the coffee is fresh all night, so he might add catering fees throughout the night. Another example is when you or your ad agency want to see a lot of the wardrobe that was to be procured prior to the shoot, so photographers can add an extra day for his wardrobe stylist to provide pictures of everything and spend a bit of extra time shopping after receiving feedback.
- Photographer Insurance requirements. You – as a client – might have specific insurance requirements that the photographer might not anticipate originally, so the photographer might include an extra fee to help increase his policy to meet your company standards.
- Shoot date changes. If you as a client need to change the shoot date a few times, the photographer can include an extra travel expense fee to account for airline change fees. Keep in mind that any changes in the original schedule, might increased production level and the re-negotiation of the project across the board meaning the crew would be incurring additional time, so the photographer might include an extra day fee for them to handle the workload.
How to optimise your photography budget – Summary:
- Limit your shooting talent to the required minimum.
- Decrease the amount of images to be licensed.
- Make a list of the top 3-5 non-negotiable priority creative requirements and make sure no-one add more to that list.
- Use natural light as much as possible.
- Do not change the agreed shooting dates, times and location.
- Handle all of the post processing in-house if you can.
GET YOUR THE CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY BRIEF TEMPLATE!
Save time and get our super easy and proven Creative Photography Brief Template! (Word doc)
“HOW TO WRITE A KILLER PHOTOGRAPHY BRIEF” WAS WRITTEN BY…
Mauricio Escobar is the Founder & Global Head of Digital Marketing Strategy at eDigital. Empowering best digital marketing capability over 18 years via Strategy Workshops, Campaign Management & Training Sessions; Mauricio’s has generated traffic growth and sales for a great variety of Australian brands. Mauricio now consults and trains Agencies, Government & Marketing teams. His articles, strategy frameworks & templates are read by thousands of marketers subscribed to his e-newsletter. Mauricio enjoys nature trekking around the world, conceptual photography & teaching Digital Marketing at Private Colleges & Unis. Certified Facebook/Adwords Marketer – Social Media Specialist – Sydney SEO Consultant – Corporate Trainer – StartUp Investor – International Speaker.
Contact Mauricio today!
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