80% of my work these days comes from shoots I do remotely here in Denver, CO or wherever I happen to be at the moment. My clients may be in NYC, San Fran, Montreal, or recently even Thailand.
Ok, but how?
Doesn’t the art director need to be on set? How will the client approve images during the shoot? These are the hard questions we all had to ask ourselves beginning in March of 2020.
Let’s walk step by step through what this process has looked like for me over the past year. For this post, I’ll be using my shoot with Red Antler for Drink CANN as the example. Note: every shoot is different and has different crew needs, budget constraints, etc. This is just one example.
Red Antler (located in NYC) came to me (Denver, CO) with a concept for their holiday campaign for Drink CANN (San Francisco, CA). Sometimes, smaller scale clients will look to me to provide art direction (which I’m happy to do). But in this case with CANN (a larger scale client), they already had their own marketing team / hired creative team for me to work with. Red Antler came up with the campaign concept and visual direction around “Warm and Fizzies.” They already knew they wanted the shoot to have three unique scenes - one for each flavor. They also knew they wanted it to be shot in studio, for it to be hyper stylized, and to utilize models. From there, I did a local talent casting through a modeling agency, laid out my top choices in a Google Slides deck, and then Red Antler (the creative agency) chose their favorites and sent them to the client for final approval.
Once the talent was locked in, we worked together via Zoom & Google Slides to build out each scene. Some shoots we use a local wardrobe and prop stylist to pull garments and props locally, but for this specific shoot our timeline didn’t allow for it due to a quick turnaround. So the remote stylist purchased all the props and had them sent directly to me and anything we couldn’t get online, I went and sourced locally myself with guidance from the stylist. Note: if this were a fashion shoot, a stylist on set in person would be a must to ensure the fit of the wardrobe. But since this was about the product, we were able to get away with a smaller crew.
Moving onto SHOOT DAY.
On the day of shoot, we have a thorough schedule that is followed by the talent, crew on set, remote creative team, and client. So how do we do it? Well, myself and the creative team have our Zoom call on all day. They don’t schedule other meetings, but are available at any hour of the shoot. We touch base in the morning and give any updates, then we turn off our Zoom audio and Zoom cameras as I start to shoot.
Once I have something that I feel good about (lighting wise, pose, styling, etc) I say something into the mic and everyone turns their cameras back on. I shoot tethered to my laptop for easy screen-share of the actual images, walk them through what we shot and either get feedback or approval. And we continue just like this until the end of the shoot! With shoots like this, every element is very planned out so there is less room for guessing in the moment.
Something to note here is that the actual client was not on this particular Zoom call, but rather Red Antler acted as a liaison between us to help better streamline feedback and keep things very structured. I always prefer to do this when possible, but sometimes you’re working with the client or someone from the client side directly. Which is fine, as long as you have a solid plan/scope in place and and it does not deviate from that on shoot day.
I hope this encourages you to hire a remote photographer and to not be afraid of shooting without your whole creative team on set! The result can help you save significantly in travel costs and will allow you to work with talent and photographers you don’t have locally. The upside for photographers is that you’ll get the opportunity to work with brands worldwide and won’t be boxed into what’s just around you.
Let me know if you found this helpful. If so, I will write a Part II about remote shooting on-location and with a larger crew!