Questions Brendan asks before every job - and all from true life too.
In all cases
What are the images for? It’s good to know in case they’re to be matched with existing stock. Or maybe I’ve a preferred camera/technique for web use v. high end print. Or if they’re intended for a particular magazine do they have layout guidelines to be followed? Is there scope for a different approach?
How many shots do you require? And variations? This will help determine the time required and if it’s food the speed that dishes can come to the set. If you want variations of each set up what do you hope to get from those variations?
Are your staff happy to help as models if needs be? You cannot believe how reluctant/busy/not feeling well/stressed staff can be just when you need that inspirational smile to happen.
Will others be working at the same time? Is the wallpaper being hung/lights replaced/carpet laid? It can get complicated so let me know if you’re planning it.
Is there a designer’s brief or wireframe? Again good to know if there are compositional considerations or picture spaces to left empty for type, if backgrounds are to be knocked out of focus, if framing is portrait or landscape or even letterbox.
What’s your deadline? The same day! 24 hours? OK I’ll have to get someone in to help on that.
Do you require any post production or specific grading? Retouching can be done no problem except it’ll need to be added to the budget.
Can I do a reccie? This is probably the best thing you can say yes to as I’m starting to learn about the space and the people. And I’m asking more questions that will help solve the problems associated with the job.
Can we agree a budget? I’ll show you mine if you promise to show me yours. I know you want me to be as gentle as possible with you but I have got bills to pay too.
Are the premises finished? Will the spaces be cleaned and ready for shooting? Believe it or not they’re not always. And remember if we turn up we charge the full fee. It's all explained in our T&Cs.
Has furniture to be moved? Is an assistant required? I can hump camera and kit but if I’ve to move your fixtures and fittings then it’ll slow the shoot down.
Are there people to be included? Who organises releases and payment? Some people are so vain they’ll pose for anything. But you need to be sure that everyone in the shoot consents and signs a release. And you may need to ‘reward’ them too.
How many locations? Six in two days! I’m no magician so it’ll take some planning. Did you tell me this before we agreed the budget?
Daytime/Nighttime? No I’m not afraid of the dark. It’s just some things need considering. You want a dusk shot in June in Scotland? That’s as late as 11.59pm.
Are the premises open or closed to the public? Safety is a priority and as we all know there will always be someone who has to squeeze past the lights to get to see and touch that bling. Where’s my assistant? (Public Liability insurance is included in our estimates).
Are panoramas /joiners required? Silly you. You didn’t brief me on that and the kit needed is fifty miles away. It's good to talk.
Studio or restaurant? Has the studio got a kitchen? Have I estimated for the hire charge? Can we shoot in the restaurant during service? Is there a private space to use?
If shooting in a restaurant will there be customers? I know you need them but sometimes they just don’t understand what’s needed to get perfect photography. And frequently they’ll want paying if they’re included in the photos.
Are we framing close in or wider? If wider what additional items are to be included? Do we add wine glasses or is beer more suited to the dish? Cutlery? Condiments? Customers’ possessions like a mobile, car keys, newspaper?
Is there someone assigned to help? I mean someone who isn’t doing a shift in the cloakroom, bar, kitchen. The meter keeps running while I wait for that glass of red.
Is there a food stylist? I can do a little but I’m best suited behind the camera. If not who will finish off the dish?
Is there a window for natural light? I’m happy to bring lighting but my preference is god’s light through a north facing window. Can I turn off the interior lighting?
Will the food be cooked fresh and not just reheated? It needs to look freshly cooked not dry from hanging around or even from been cooked the previous night.
Can sauces/jus/gravy be brought separately to the table to be added just prior to shooting? Likewise herbs? I can work fairly quickly but to keep everything looking great I like to frame and focus before the dish if fully finished.
Do you get to have your cake and eat it too? Of course. That's what we're here for. Which would you like?