I get asked quite frequently on instagram about how to create better content – how to set things up, how to get the best lighting, how to edit. It’s a process many people seem to have questions about and interestingly enough, it’s my day job! I literally help bloggers and other small businesses create content on a daily basis. So when Catalog reached out about sharing some of the behind the scenes of capturing great content, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to share some tips and insights.
When I first get booked on a job the first thing I do is, in my opinion, the most important. I thoroughly research my client and their style. What is their aesthetic? What are their goals? I always strive to make sure my imagery aligns with their brand vibe.
Once I’ve got that down, I usually put together a mood board so that I can share that with them and get their feedback. If we’re all on the same page, it’s time to start gathering any pertinent props. I keep a lot of my own props, but sometimes it’s necessary to round up a few extra things. This is where knowing a client’s aesthetic comes in handy. Any props or extra items I include in the shoot need to be in line with their style and color palette. Props should also never be the focus, but rather supplements to the main focal point.
All this preparation means that when I’m actually shooting I have the client’s style so clear in my mind that I can really get creative with the actual images. I always try various setups – usually more than I need. I like to start each different composition with a simple concept. Once I take the first shot, I analyze it to see what’s missing. Then I build and build until I feel satisfied with the image. Sometimes things come together easily, and other times a composition just isn’t working and I move on to something else.
At the end of a shoot I flip through all the images I’ve taken to make sure I have what I need. Usually at this point I move on to editing; although if I’m able to, I leave the setup as is – just in case.
Editing varies from client to client, but some things remain constant. I catalog all my images in Lightroom and perform basic edits there: exposure, contrast, saturation etc. Afterwards, I pull images into Photoshop to do any necessary cleanup or to do any more advanced edits. Once everything is edited, I take one last look at my group of images to make sure they’re all cohesive before sending them off to the client.
And that’s pretty much the entire process! I find it to be most important to know your client well; this will direct everything else you do. Also, on all my content creation shoots I use my DSLR (Canon 5D MkIII), but I always keep my iPhone handy because I like to visualize how the images will appear on instagram. All my personal photos are shot on iPhone 95% of the time actually.
I hope these insights were helpful! It’s so exciting to see so many talented individuals creating content online, but I know it can be difficult to connect with brands and find clients. Catalog is great because they connect photographers and content creators to brands and vice versa. It’s a fantastic way to make money creating content if that’s what you’re passionate about. As a freelancer some months are better than others, so it’s nice to know there are resources out there to help you land more jobs.