How To Do A Professional Assignment

Step Two

by William Lulow

Once you’ve decided how many and what kind of photographs need to be made and, you’ve found out who will be the judge of the images, you then need to begin to assemble the production team, if one is necessary. You might need an assistant(s), stylist, location, or extra equipment. You may need to arrange for transportation and parking. All of these things constitute the “expenses” for the job. In the days of traditional film media, this would have included “film and processing.” But, today, since there is no film there isn’t that expense, but there certainly is the time it takes for digital upload and downloads, retouching, sizing, DVD burning and printing. These are still time consuming expenses and must be charged for. Don’t forget that you will probably have to arrange for reception at the location (if it’s not in the studio), with off-load instructions and addresses. Especially in NYC, you can’t always take a hand truck full of equipment through the pedestrian lobby of a downtown building. You’ll probably need to use the service elevator for all equipment, which is often on a different street.

You will then need to decide what equipment the job calls for. How many and what kinds of lights you’ll need and what the physical layout of the location is. This might entail a “location scout” – where you or a member of your staff goes ahead of time to look at the location and see what kind of equipment is needed. You still have to do this step even if the shoot is in your studio. I make notes when I do this and sometimes even take pictures of the location with my iPhone. I used to shoot Polaroids, but now iPhone pictures are fine.

Upon deciding what equipment you’ll need, what the location looks like (or how you’ll need to set up the studio, you can then begin to assemble the items you’ll need for the shoot. The first thing will be an art director’s sketch of what she wants the photo to look like. Most of the time, if you are shooting for an agency, they will have a mock-up of what the ad will look like. It is your job as photographer to turn that idea into reality.

To be continued…