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Table of Contents

What is a Photography Brief?

Photography briefs lay out all the details for a photoshoot so both the client and the photographer understand the overall goals for the shoot, any special requests, and the style of photos that are needed. This helps the photographer plan the shoot to deliver exactly what the client needs. A good brief for photographers covers:

  • Purpose and context of the photographs
  • Preferred style of imagery
  • Target audience
  • Shot list of must-have photos
  • Examples of styles and reference images
  • Brand guidelines
  • Budget
  • Schedule and deadlines

A photography brief primes the photographer on what needs to be done so preparations for the photo shoot can be made. It also clarifies the business side of a creative project so the budget, schedule and deadlines are clear from the outset. Having a photography brief document to hand clients ensures they’re able to deliver a full brief that covers all the necessary details while allowing room for creative ideas to be shared.

Note: Want to jump right in? Sign up with Bonsai to customize your photography brief now!

What to Include in Photography Briefs

A detailed photography brief provides a framework for the professional photographer that supports their creative ideas. No professional photographer - or amateur - wants to deliver work that the client is unhappy with or doesn’t like. Creative briefs sketch out the style guidelines and the business details so the photographer has a starting point to work with when planning the shoot.

The best briefs are detailed while still allowing room for the photographer to create something original for their clients. Most photographers are able to provide their client with a brief template. This helps to define ideas in a way that gives photographers the information needed to plan a shoot so it runs smoothly and helps a client crystalize their idea for the shoot. A good project brief will include:

Basic information

Whether writing a photography brief or putting together a graphic design brief, contact details for the company hiring a photographer must be given at the beginning. This should include the name of the contact person along with the business address, a landline and mobile number, and an email address.

It is likely that the brief will require further discussion to agree the smaller details before the photo shoot can go ahead. Having this information in the brief makes it easier for a professional photographer to follow up with you.

Project details and goals

Include context for the photos and the goal of the shoot - is it for a marketing campaign, website imagery or a brochure of your products? When the photographer understands to purpose of the images you need and the style you want, they are able to prepare all the other details and make sure they have the right technical equipment for the day of the shoot. Your project details may indicate the need for models to be involved, or your design team may have specific backgrounds and a style they’d like to achieve with the images. All of this should be included with the project details section of the brief.

Logistical details for the brief

Where do you want the photoshoot to take place? Outdoor shoots will allow for an abundance of natural light but will also be slightly at the mercy of the elements. You may need to note an additional date or two as a contingency if mother nature doesn’t agree with your schedule.

Indoor shooting is a little easier to plan, however lighting, location, and background for the images needs to be considered and noted in the brief details.

Shot list

Are there specific images that you are looking for? If so, creating a shot list for the photographer to work from is a must. If products are better demonstrated with a model, photographers are able to arrange the booking of talent, model releases to be signed and photo briefs to be created that will ensure all the basics for the shots are available on the day.

The shot list should also note how many images you need in total. Reference images can also be included with a shot list to give the photographer an example of what you have in mind. This will help the photographer understand how long will be needed for the shoot.

Immediate and future use of photos

Covering not only what the images will be used for in the project details, but also how you may wish to use them in the future will ensure the correct creative licensing is agreed at the outset. Copyright nearly always remains with the photographer and specific usage rights are covered in the image license. Thinking about immediate and future use of images will negate the need to pay for the same images more than once.

Target audience and image specifications

Who the images are aimed at and the mood you wish to evoke with the images are important details for the photography brief. The design team or marketing manager should be able to provide a proper definition of the target audience.

Crafting images that connect with 12 year old girls who are into horse riding will have a very different approach to connecting with first-time home buyers. The photographer can use their creative know-how to plan the shots that will reach your target market with the right feeling. Stylistically, this will incorporate colour, lighting, and the kinds of composition that suit your audience.

Style guidelines

A company employing a photographer for a photo shoot will do well to share their brand guidelines. Even if these have been written for creatives in other industries such as writers or web designers, many of the principles and details noted in branding guidelines will be transferable to a photo shoot.

Having this document available as part of your brief will avoid any potential issues with photographs and give the background content needed to deliver photos to match your brand image.

Budget

Defining a budget for your campaign or shoot will give the photographer a clear idea of the scope for the project. A smaller budget means less flexibility with additional materials, not lower quality images. Larger budgets mean the photographer is able to engage the assistance of stylists, props, lighting assistants, multiple days, etc. to make your project work.

Schedule, deadlines and payment procedure

The brief should also document the business side of the project. When you need final images by, a schedule that provides a provisional day of the shoot and an alternative date should this not be possible, and your proposed payment procedure.

After the shoot, photos will be reviewed and edited before sending to the person allocated to recipe the work. Information about who and when this needs to happen must be included in your brief.

How to Write a Photography Brief for Professional Photographers

When you begin to write a photography brief, it can help to start of by writing notes in bullet point form and then flesh out your idea as you develop to project outline and purpose. While your brief should certainly created a framework for the photographer to work within, you also need to leave room for their creative judgement and input to be involved. 

Discuss the Shots With Your Team

Whether you need a photograph for the banner of your website, or a series of photographs for an event or new prospectus, discussing what you need and involving your team will save you time when communicating with the photographer.

Technical details and style of photography will vary depending on how the images are to be used. There is a difference between print images and online photos. Discussing in detail the image needs will help you to write a clear brief.

Include an example of what you do and don’t want

No matter how detailed you are when you describe the feeling and style you want a photographer to achieve, words can be deceiving. What you mean by ‘crispy colours’ can easily be interpreted as something different by another. Photography is part art and part science. By including example photos, creating a mood board or showing the photographer what you don’t want, you’re helping the photographer take the photos that suit your brand.

Don’t forget logistical shoot details

When writing a photography brief, it’s easy to get caught up with the creative briefs elements - style, the feeling you want to evoke in the viewer, brand colours and more. However, it is important to also include the more mundane detail that the photographer needs to arrange the technical details.

Location, audience, budget, schedule and the date you need final images are all necessary for the shoot to be planned well and ensure everything runs smoothly. Without these basics, the photography session is unlikely to meet your expectations.

Creating a Photography Brief is Simple With Bonsai

It’s not unusual for a client to be unsure of what to provide professional photographers with to help them shoot the photos they want. Having a photography brief template a client can complete, means photographers get a full brief and a client is confident their project will have its need met.

Creating a comprehensive photography brief is simple with Bonsai’s template. Sign up today to customise your template and be ready help interested clients choose you!

A clear creative brief for any kind of artistic project is important as it provides the structure needed for professionals to collaborate and create what their client wants within that framework. A good brief conveys ideas while leaving room for collaboration with the client so the ideal image and emotion is conveyed with each shot.

Photography Brief FAQs

Is an event photography brief very different from product photography?

Although the same elements of a photography brief will cover both event photography and product photography as well as other types of shoots, the emphasis on certain aspects will vary. For example, product photos can be staged and the circumstances agreed before each shot. 

Event photography is about capturing the moment and feeling of the event, making for a far more dynamic shooting experience. Event briefs should include any guests that must be captured on film, location and of course, the date they are taking place.

What type of photography makes the most money?

The life of a photographer sounds glamorous - travelling to far-flung places, taking photos of the rich and famous and rubbing shoulders with beautiful models and fashion icons. However, not all photographers earn the same or live the same jet-setting lifestyle.

The average hourly rate for photographers was around $20 p/h in 2020 however, an experienced food or commercial photographer can earn as much as $92,000 or $100,000 a year respectively.

Can photography be an NFT?

Non-fungible Tokens, or NFTs are unique digital files. Some sell for billions of dollars and other’s for peanuts. Given that NFTs are digital, a photographer is ideally placed to create and sell their work as an NFT. This is one example of how they can make a lot of money from their unique shots.

Examples of Photography brief templates

Photography Brief Template from Orion Creative
Image Credits: orioncreative.com.au
Photography Brief Template Sample from Per Rescue
Image Credits: pernrescue.org

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