Photo-Video Workflow

Posted by Donna Rouviere Anderson June 04, 2015

Both photo and video shoots require an efficient workflow. This blog details the broad outlines of our workflow for photo assignments and short videos. Future blogs will tackle in detail specific areas within the workflow. Although the complexity of this workflow varies greatly depending on the complexity of a shoot, most projects fall into this basic structure. 

  • Discovering the basic story we need to depict in the photos or video - We start each project with a discover process aimed at nailing down the story to be depicted in the photos or video. Our clients fill out a questionnaire about their project’s requirements and what they want to achieve. We discuss it in depth with them, look over any visual or other materials they have and write a creative brief outlining the requirements to bring the story to life. Sometimes this can double as a proposal. The client’s approval of the creative brief constitutes their hiring us to carry out the shoot or part of it.
  • Administration -  We set up files for the project. See our earlier blog, Documents for a Photo Shoot, for more details.
  • Project Plan – We create a project plan for the shoot that includes mapping out the steps we need to go through to make it happen, scheduling parts of the shoot, allocating resources and people. From this plan, we create a task list.
  • Research and gathering reference material – This process can be lengthy or brief depending on the complexity of the shoot. We immerse ourselves in the topic and find out what has been done visually on it in the past as well as figuring out the logistics of carrying out the shoot, researching locations and gathering samples of photos and video on the topic or aspects of it. From this, we select the best to learn from. We also dip into our past projects for insights as to how to shoot this assignment well.
  • Script - Using the creative brief as a beginning point, we flesh it out into a more comprehensive script for the shoot that includes the most important aspects of what we have learned in our research.
  • Concept art - We create boards with concept art for each aspect of the shoot, especially when doing video, so that it is clear what type of look and lighting we want to achieve. This can range from actually creating digital concept art for each scene to simply creating simple boards with examples of the type of photos or video we would like to capture. These boards can contain instructions about props, clothing, sets and lighting.
  • Preparation for shooting – The concept boards and creative brief go to each person involved in the shoot to use as a guide in planning for the shoot. For a simple still photo shoot, this could be limited to the photographer and photo retoucher.  A video could require coordination between those who are in charge of directing the video, designing the set, the people in charge of prop and costume design and dressing, the sound engineer and designer, the lighting designer/cinematographer, the person in charge of technical support and backup, the post-production editor/colorist and of course the subjects of the video if necessary. Each person involved in the shoot uses these materials as their guide in preparing for the shoot and post production, working with each other as needed to nail down all aspects of preparation and scheduling. On most of our projects, one person may fill several of these roles. 
  • Shooting the photos or video footage
  • Download and backup of the photos of footage – This varies in complexity depending on the complexity of the shoot.
  • Post production - This includes sorting, rating, metatagging and organizing the photos or audio and video; assembling a package of photos or, in the case of video, creating a rough cut assembly of all of the parts of a video to provide an overall idea of how it will look;  refining the project with retouching and caption writing for photos and timing, transitions, color grading, special effects and sound mixing for video; and final polishing. 
  • Render – The rendering process puts photos or video into the final formats needed by the client and creates master and backup files for our own archive.
  • Sending out or uploading the photos
  • Wrapping up the shoot Archive all materials and repurpose materials as needed, invoice, evaluate the project and make any changes to our workflow. 
  • Determine next steps - Many photo and video shoots are part of a series or lead to other projects and opportunities.