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A Quick Checklist for Photographers – Four Tips
Photo shoots can often be quite simple and quick, but most of the time they are actually quite complex and involve a lot of things that you need to remember to do.
Having a checklist ensures you're not approaching a photoshoot with a chaotic mind and panic of “I've forgotten something, I know it“. This ranges from contracts to gear, locations and permits.
1. Model Release Forms
Whether you're working for a client with whom you have agreed upon picture use, or you are photographing pictures which you intend to sell on stock websites and producing prints, you’ll need model release forms signed by the model in order to do so.
Before every shoot, it is wise to discuss the model release form with the model to avoid any misunderstandings afterward and possibly ending up with pictures which you can’t use for commercial purposes. In some countries, you can barely use them for editorial purposes, so check this out too..
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Both having an understanding with your model about the model release form, and having one signed for that day and shoot, is basically a necessity in order to have usable pictures.
2. Additional Contracts
If you feel like it, you can create an additional contract between you and your model with everything covered. This is useful if you hire models, to have a written agreement about payment.
Whether it is monetary or an equal exchange of service for a product (for example, a model who will agree to model for you in return for several photographs which the model can use freely).
Also, having a specific contract between you, the model, and the client is also recommended so that there's a written agreement about the job and payment between all parties.
This is also handy since both you and your model know exactly where the pictures will be used and under what terms, while the client knows exactly who is involved in the creation of the product.
Don't rely on verbal agreements, they don’t hold up in court, nor do you have any tangible proof for the agreed terms.
E-mail usually works, but that can be risky too, since some courts don’t recognize it as a viable form of a contract. Printed and signed by every party is always the safest way to go – just common sense.
3. Location & Permits
Having a location is a must, but you already know that. However, in order to be sure that the location will be viable and available it is wise to scout it beforehand and do some research about it.
If the location is private property or an area which is under control of the city or state (like national parks for example) you’ll need proper permits to have your photo shoot set up there.
Additionally, you’ll need to know how the light will behave there, thus you’ll need to either wait and see how the sun will move through the location.
I'd suggest tools like The Photographer's Ephemeris (I've mentioned this one across a few of my posts because it's my favorite) in order to predict it. Make sure you check out the weather forecast too, just in case.
Have a list of several available, pre-scouted and pre-planned locations which will serve as your backup – it never hurts to have a plan B – in case the main one suddenly becomes unavailable for some reason?
4. Proper Gear
You know the job, you know what's asked of you, now you need to plan your gear and acquire every piece several days before the shoot. If you are using new gear, make sure you do some practice with them beforehand.
Test the integrity of each piece and clean everything properly. You don’t want to do that on the field, nor do you want to go out with gear that's broken or underperforming. It can seriously affect the end product and (I hate to point out the obvious but,) hurt your reputation.