Photo Shoot Production Case Study – Part 3

So I jumped ahead a bit in the last post, in talking about casting. That would normally come later in the process. I am attempting to share the order of the process as well as the details.

Normally once we would get the illustration or layout from the agency we would have to estimate out the project. Whether it was a competitive estimate (where we are basically bidding against other photographers to get the job) or even if we pretty much have the job secured we would need to provide costs for the production. Most of the time the agency has to produce a Purchase Order or P.O. and that number would ultimately have to go on our final invoice when doing our billing. The P.O. always lists a total amount for the job which we need to stay within 10% of.

So the estimating process consists of looking at all of the factors and variable of each job and coming up with solid costs and fees to produce it. Every job is different and much of the time there is an element or two that needs to be researched. Having been doing this for many years, a lot of the costs we can estimate without much effort. But we do contact members of the team we anticipate using on any particular job, to make sure our costs are still in line and that we are not missing anything.

If we were to be estimating out this shot, here is a list of what might be included on the estimate.

  • Photo Fee
  • Usage or Licensing Fee
  • Pre & Post Production
  • Model Fees
  • Assistants
  • Digital Processing of Images
  • Equipment Rentals
  • Studio Supplies
  • Studio Rental
  • Food & Refreshments
  • Casting
  • Hair & Make-up
  • Props
  • Sets
  • Animal Talent
  • Set/Prop Stylist
  • Wardrobe
  • Wardrobe Stylist
  • Retouching
  • Shipping & Messengers

These would be items for this shoot.
Other projects may include locations so we would have to include items like:

  • Location Scouting
  • Location Fees
  • Insurance
  • Permits
  • Motorhome
  • Equipment Van
  • Mileage
  • Travel Expenses

If there were kids on set we would have to include

  • Social Worker / Teacher

If we were shooting products we might need to include

  • Backgrounds

Of course we include all of the standard verbiage regarding our terms and conditions as well as clearly spelling out what our interpretation of the shot is, a description, the intended usage of the photo, approximate dates of the shoot, delivery of the imagery, # of days, # of shots, and specifics of what the estimate may or may not include.

And all if this would be put together on a nice and easy to read estimate and presented to the agency and then we cross our fingers and hold our breath.

Photo Shoot Production Case Study – Part 2

The next step I took on this project was to pull together some reference photos that I could use to accompany the illustration when showing to the Set Stylist, Wardrobe Stylist, and Hair & Make-up Stylist. Especially because this was a period piece, I wanted to make sure I could convey the flavor and era that I was going for. The Set Stylist pulled a lot of reference from books. Much of my reference I simply got by browsing photo archives online. (I really can’t share the reference photos I used here, because of copyright issues. It probably would not be a problem, but I need to respect others copyrights as I would hope they would respect mine, and in this instance if I were to put them here, that would be “publishing” without their consent)

These reference photos were also helpful for casting the talent.

On this particular project we started to work with a casting company and they got us a few submissions, and ultimately one of our models. But we ended up doing casting for the other talent in-house. For the casting we put out calls through two sources we have discussed in prior posts, 1.) LA Casting Network, 2.) Breakdown Services.

We got over 1300 submission and we looked at every one. From those 1300 we narrowed it down to the top 60. From there we cut to our top 12, and finally our 4 picks. The only hitch is the our very first choice for the first role was not able to do the shoot as he was out of state and could not get in on the date of our shoot. But the position was quickly filled by our second choice who worked out just fine. Once we had our four models picked we put them on hold for the shoot date. Then we got their contact info and relayed that to the wardrobe stylist so that she could gather their sizes for all of the wardrobe.

Photo Shoot Production Case Study – Part 1

About two months ago I came up with a concept for a shoot that I thought would be fun to do. Initially it felt like just another idea that might come and go and never get produced because I was too busy. But the image was seared into my consciousness and soon I realized it would not go away until I shot it. It became a small obsession. So once I started the ball rolling on actually doing the shot I thought it might make for a good series of posts, documenting the steps we go through, putting the production together. In most ways this production was much like any other larger production we might do for a client… The only difference is that this was a personal shoot, so I was the client.

So here we go…

Once I had the concept I quickly realized that it was easy for me to talk about it, because the image was already finished in my head. But it may not be so easy for others who would become involved in the production to look into my head to see the same image. The solution was to get the concept onto paper so that others had a visual reference as to what I was trying to achieve. This made it infinitely easier for others to converse about as we started to put the shot together. This is something that is virtually always done by ad agencies when they are presenting concepts to their client. Then these same images, once approved by the client, are then given to the photographer and production team for the purposes of estimating out the job and then ultimately putting the shot together.

So in wanting to accomplish the same goal as any ad agency I did what they would do. I went to a company that specializes in doing just that, concept illustrations. The firm I worked with was Famous Frames, based in Culver City. We did the whole thing over the phone and through e mail. I had done a very poor stick figure drawing (I went to school for photography.. not illustration!) of the set up I was going for. I scanned it and sent it off to the artist

Preliminary Sketch for image - Los Angeles Photographer Dana Hursey

and then we had a conversation over the phone about the mood and feel I was after and about specifics and details. He then did a rough sketch for me to approve or indicate changes.

First Round Sketch by Famous Frames Artist Michael Lee for Dana Hursey Photography

And then after a final phone conversation he did a full rendering of the concept and e mailed it off to me.

Final Sketch ©2008 Dana Hursey Photography - Los Angeles California

I was thrilled with the artists ability to transfer the image in my head to an image on paper.

Step one one was complete and I could now easily start to have conversations with others about the shot and my goals!

Testing 1…2…3…

We have been out of town for a couple weeks, but we are back and today we are doing pre-production for a test shoot tomorrow. Once we get the shot done I will do a bunch of posts walking you through the process of what we did and showing the step and ultimately the final shot. Stay Tuned!

We are off again!

We are heading out on location for all of next week. So if we get any spare time we’ll try to get a post in here or there. Also a shot or two if we take any good ones! Meantime have a great week and we see ya back here on the 18th!

New Mac Computers

Our new MacBook Pro laptop did indeed come in yesterday, literally as I was typing the last sentence of yesterdays post.
It is all up and running and should be a really great improvement over it’s predecessor. Although I am sure the increased processor speed on both that and the iMac will be an improvement, it is really the increase in available RAM that is showing up as the biggest improvement. On the iMac, going from 2.0GHz to 2.8GHz is not all that big of an increase, but doubling the RAM from 2GB to 4GB really made a big difference in performance!

So with having two of the latest computers available we should be set for at least… oh…. 6 months, if we are lucky!

Glossy Mac Screens

So I have to formally apologize to one of my assistants, Dylan Borgman. Last summer we were doing a big production, and everyone on set had their laptops running. It was quite amusing! Nothing but MacBook Pros all over the place. Well, Dylan had just gotten one of the new ones with the glossy screen. And I couldn’t understand why anyone would want one of those. I felt the reflections would be way too distracting and annoying and thought it was just crazy, and told him so. He just kind of shrugged his shoulders and let it go with a “whatever”. It was all in good fun, but with a dash of seriouness thrown in.

Late last year we did a corporate shoot where we had two cameras running and had one connected to my laptop, and Dylan brought his to connect the other camera. The scene we were shooting was the exact same scene and we had the two laptops side by side. Although I still thought the concept of the hi-gloss screen odd, as I stood there with the client looking at both computers, I was secretly a bit embarrassed at how dull and lifeless my computer screen looked and how crisp sharp and vibrant Dylan’s looked. But I got over it…

Last month we got one of the new 24″ iMacs which have the whole iPhone “look” to them with the glossy screen and all. I LOVE THIS THING! It is such a pleasure to work on. This resolution, contrast and and clarity are so amazing. So much so that today my replacement MacBook Pro with a glossy screen should be arriving on my doorstep anytime! Anyone want a rarely used 15″ MacBook Pro with matte screen???

Renaming Files

Don’t know about you, but quite often we need to rename a lot of files at once. Sometimes we are adding a serial number, other times we need to eliminate characters, or add a prefix or suffix. It used to be a real chore till our stock agency (Masterfile) turned us on to RName. It was freeware for Mac. But sadly it is no longer available. Luckily someone else is making a very similar if not better program called Renamer4Mac. There is also some freeware for Windows called Rname-it.

This is not software that we use everyday, but when we do use it is it a total life saver (not to mention, time saver!) One of the biggest uses we have for this is our stock agency demands a certain naming convention that is very different than our in-house naming system, and theirs makes the file name very long with a lot of characters that serve no purpose for us. But with these renaming programs we can just prep all of our files, drop them into the program and batch rename them all at once while still retaining our original file name within the new naming convention, so that we can always refer back to the original file, should we need to.

Again these are all freeware programs (free download) and great utilities… check `em out!

Disc Stakka – Storage Solution for CD’s and DVD’s

So as a follow up to least Thursdays post, another friend of mine (Rudy Carruolo) had read the article about Drobo and sent me a link to something he has been considering for wrangling all of his optical media (CD’s & DVD’s). Called Disc Stakka from Imation, it is a carousel that holds 100 discs and comes with Mac / Windows software that works in conjunction with it to store, catalog, and access all of your discs. You can stack five of them for storage of up to 500 discs and still only use the one USB connection.

The only issue I see with them is that they seem bulky and a bit of a space pig, but for those of you who rely strongly on optical media, this looks great! We have pretty much moved away from optical media as a primary means of storage, but many people find it is a better system for them. As always… check it out!