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Preparing for your shoot is an important part of the process of commissioning your photographer. Here are some top tips for getting ready and what to expect on the day of your shoot.

Before the day

Brief your photographer

When you brief your photographer, you should tell them about what you need and your expectations for the job. Below, we've included prompts to help your write your brief, along with a checklist of the information and resources you should share with your photographer, including Imperial's guidelines for photography, consent and permissions and personal protective equipment (PPE).

You should make sure that you share your plans for the shoot with your photographer in advance so that they can confirm that the logistics and timings you have in mind for the shoot are reasonable while there is still time to make changes. If you're shooting for a whole day, don't forget to include time for your photographer to take breaks and lunch. 

When preparing your brief, remember to:

  • give the photographer enough time to unpack and pack their equipment and travel between locations if you’re shooting in more than one place
  • provide the full details of the location of the shoot and any meeting points
  • include the contact details for everyone involved in the shoot, including the mobile number of at least one key contact

If you think of any additional requests after briefing the photographer, it’s important to agree them with the photographer before the shoot, so you can allocate more time and make any extra arrangements if needed. 

Choose a location

It can be helpful to give the photographer some images of all of the locations available for the shoot in advance – mobile phone snaps are perfect for this. This will help the photographer plan for what might work in the image and give them more information about the preparations they’ll need to make for the shoot. It can also help you to narrow down the locations for your shoot. Providing images of your proposed locations before the shoot is especially helpful when you’re organising a shoot to illustrate research, as they can help you to explain the facilities and equipment involved.

If you share a space with other people, it’s also important to let them know in advance that the shoot will be happening and how it could affect them, and to make arrangements to minimise any potential disruption.

Consent and permissions

Before your shoot, you must make sure that everyone you have invited is aware of and comfortable with our policy for consent and permissions for photography.

Learn more about commissioning a photoshoot and briefing a photographer.

On the day

Before your photographer arrives

The more you do to prepare before the photographer arrives, the more time you’ll have to capture lots of strong images during your shoot.

Tidy up

You should make sure that the location is clean and tidy: put away everything that isn’t involved in the shoot, move rubbish and sharps bins to less prominent positions, and make sure surfaces are clear.

If you’re setting up any scenarios that you’d like to be included in the shoot, make sure you leave plenty of time to do this before the photographer arrives. You should also check the background for any health and safety violations, for example making sure that lab coats are put away properly and not hung on the back of chairs.

Know your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Make sure to familiarise yourself with the PPE requirements for the location. Common PPE issues can include:

Lab coats
  • The style of the lab coat worn by the people involved in the shoot should be appropriate for the lab and be consistent. For example, if Howie-style coats are required in the space, everyone should wear one.
  • All lab coats should be buttoned up to the top, with sleeves rolled down.
Long hair and jewellery
  • Long hair should be tied back and loose jewellery, such as dangling earrings, should be removed. Bringing some hair bands along to the shoot can be helpful.

Read more about PPE.

Set the scene

Here, the visual impact is (almost) everything, so it’s a good idea to show the photographer around at the beginning of the shoot. A space or a piece of kit that might seem ordinary and dull to you, might make an amazing picture, so show them everything that’s available.

If there are any interesting or unusual activities going that you could capture in your shoot, let your photographer know. There’s a lot of pipetting going on at Imperial, so if we can show something unique, even better!

It can also be helpful to prepare any interesting scenarios before the shoot slot to help set the scene.

When your photographer arrives

Allow 15 minutes at the beginning of the shoot to go through the brief, to introduce the photographer to everyone involved, and to have a look around the space and make any last minute adjustments.

Make sure you let your photographer know if there are any:

  • areas where they need to take care
  • things or people that can’t be photographed
  • surfaces or equipment that shouldn’t be touched or used

What to expect during the shoot

Provided everything is well prepared and everyone is relaxed, there will be plenty of good shots for the photographer to choose from. The photographer will take lots of photos. It’s normal to expect that not every image will end up as the best photograph ever taken, but the photographer will delete unflattering images - it’s in their interest to only use the images where everyone looks their best.

If anything during the shoot makes you or other people involved uncomfortable, tell the photographer immediately so you can move onto something else or just wrap it up there.

While it’s important not to misrepresent your environment in your photography, it’s useful to allow the photographer a little bit of creative licence during the shoot. Sometimes things that might feel staged at time will work well in the picture. For example people can appear a lot further apart than they actually are when the photographer uses a wide angle lens, so they might ask people to stand or sit closer together than they normally would. This might feel odd at the time, but in the photograph it will look natural.

Try not to add in extra requests on the day. This can mean that your photographer has to rush the shoot, reducing the quality of the final images and potentially compromising the images you originally requested.

If things don’t go to plan because of unforeseen circumstances, it’s important to remain flexible so that you can still take away something positive from the shoot. Try to find a new opportunity, as the original plan can often be revisited later.

Find out more about what to do after your photoshoot.