How to write a project brief
Never underestimate the importance of preparation when you are planning a photo shoot. You have to ensure the right people turn up at the right time and place, then hope the shoot goes off without a hitch. Even when you’re fully prepared, unexpected things can happen. By creating separate briefs for yourself and the agency or freelance model, and then producing a detailed call sheet you can reduce the risk of problems developing later on. What do you need to include in these clear and detailed documents, then?
The Project Brief
The project brief defines the purpose of a shoot, as well as the budget, target audience of the medium or product, branding/ perception goals, technical specs, and shoot day particulars such as location ideas. Sometimes you have full control over a project, so have a free hand in creating the brief, but at other times clients, art directors, and PR people will influence it. If you are being paid for your services your initial brief must incorporate these people’s wishes, including model choice, wardrobe that must be featured, the minimum number of shots required, and in what format. In addition, an overall description of the vibe and style that is put into words or visualised in a mood board can help when casting. Try also to write down what you are hoping to achieve. Ask yourself if the concept will challenge you, whether it will better your portfolio, or if it will increase your chances of booking future work.
The Casting Brief
Before a casting, review the project brief and list what you want: this will form a casting brief. Talk to bookers and send the casting brief to the agencies along with location, time frame, and contact
details. If you want the models to dress a particular way for the casting, detail that here. This might be important if you need to see them in swimwear, or if a certain body part is the focal point. You need to work out what might be different about your shoot, if it involves a special skill, nudity of any kind, or a dangerous act. Then make sure you state these in the casting brief and reiterate the point at the casting itself. Some models may embellish their skills to book a job. I’ve seen this first hand with statements such as, ‘Of course I can ride a horse,’ ‘No, I’m not afraid of snakes,’ and ‘I’m a fantastic swimmer,’ leading to disastrous results.
The Call Sheet
Once everything is booked, send out the call sheet to everyone concerned a few days before the job. Call sheets range in detail, but should confirm shoot information including locations, call times, contact details, parking or entry notes, a prospective lunch and finish time, plus on larger jobs, local hospital details and often a map. If the model is required to bring clothing or accessories that should be listed here. Again, keep it simple and informative so it can be used as a quick reference on the morning of the shoot.
With Shooting Models photographers and models alike will learn the key skills to help them advance in the business: top model Franki Falkow and pro photographer Adam Duckworth collaborate to cover all the bases, from booking models to lighting technique. Breaking the process down into logical stages means you won’t put a foot wrong: results will be stunning, and it will be an experience you’ll repeat time and again.
Shooting Models, by Franki Falkow and Adam Duckworth
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