Since the pandemic, running remote photoshoots where the client is not physically on set has become more commonplace. In this article, I’ll share my best tips on how to run a successful and efficient remote photography service.
On the one hand, remote shooting has opened up the doors for us to work with any client, in any location around the world, from the comfort of our own home, studio, or local location. On the other, operating remotely presents its own unique challenges, from communicating effectively to navigating time zone differences.
Communication is always important on any photoshoot, but more so on a remote photoshoot where the client will not be on set. Clarify their needs in as much detail as possible in the pre-production stage. Write a detailed shot list that covers off which angles you need to capture, what type of light they want, the aspect ratios needed, and what kind of styling and props they require.
For a remote photoshoot, make sure the client has eyes on the surfaces, backdrops, and props you plan to use to make sure they’ve signed off on everything. It’s better to over-communicate in the planning process than finish the shoot, only to discover they don’t like the surfaces you’ve picked.
Establish from the beginning whether the client needs oversight and sign off on the shoot day. This will help to inform your approach.
Set Up a Test Shoot
For clients who don’t need real-time sign-off, one of my preferred ways of running a remote photoshoot is to set up a test shoot the day before the actual shoot. In this test shoot, I’ll pick one or two items on the shot list, photograph, edit, and upload them to the gallery software I use. I’ll send the client the test images, and if they’re happy with how everything looks, these images will be part of their final selection.
If the client is not happy with the imagery at this point, it’s a great chance to course-correct, take on the feedback and find out what they don’t like before you’ve spent an entire day (or more) on the shoot.
Once all the bumps have been smoothed over in this mini test shoot, you’re all set to go ahead with the full shoot in confidence. I find this type of setup works well for repeat clients that I have worked with for a long time, as there is already an existing level of trust and familiarity there.
I have a clause in my photography contract specifically to protect me on remote photoshoots that states I will only reshoot images that are technically incorrect, for instance, if the wrong product was photographed or if it was accidentally photographed from the wrong angle.
If the brief has been followed accurately, I will not accommodate requests for a reshoot based on subjective thoughts or styling preferences such as “I’d prefer a different color linen.”
If the client wants oversight on the creative direction in real-time and they can’t be physically present, set up a screen share of your tethered editing software. This way, clients can see the images pull through to your computer in real-time and can provide feedback, either through the chat or audio function.
Make clear to the client beforehand that you need prompt feedback if you’re going to stick to a schedule and not overrun. One problem I’ve faced in the past is clients disappearing into other meetings and not providing feedback for 30 minutes (or longer). This isn’t workable, will feel frustrating for you, and will result in the shoot overrunning.
The key to making remote photoshoots successful lies in over-communication. Drill down on the details of your shot list, get your props and surfaces signed off, and request prompt feedback for any video call image sharing you might be doing. I’d love to hear how you make remote photoshoots work and any tips you have for an efficient working day.