Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Don't Rely on Random

I'm seeing too much random shooting. That tells me properly prepared shot lists are a thing of the past. Clients are operating under budget pressure and a belief that the image they need already exists somewhere or they can call a favorite pro to create it for them. The shot list is not necessarily the photographer's job, either. It boils down to laziness on the part of editors, agents and creative directors. Did your last assignment editor provide you with a carefully researched and detailed list? Or did you just jot down notes during a distracted phone conversation? Does your stock agency write a personalized list based upon your area and style? Or do you receive the generic quarterly news blast: “We currently need Mexican Ports of Call, Active Seniors, China, Green Businesses.”

Photographers must have specific shot lists, tailored for their capabilities, for every situation they shoot. A photographer told me he was going to cover a surfing competition. I asked him, “So what are you going to shoot?” He looked at me like I was nuts. Then he realized he didn’t have any plan in mind. Within twenty minutes, we had written a wonderful shot outline, including potential uses for the images. His excitement level went from flat to tremendous. Demand good shot lists from the people who pay you for photography. Get help to make your own lists stronger.