Choosing the right photographer can be a big decision, and rightly so. The photographer is arguably the most important contributor to the overall end result of a photo shoot. I’ve been at it for 6 years and as I’ve mentioned, I’ve been at both ends of the spectrum. I’ve even been on both sides of the lens! I’ve seen a lot and experienced many different situations on set, but what I wanted to touch upon today is how little chunks of wasted time can sabotage your production.

If you’re looking to streamline your production, minimise risks, and make sure that you meet your objectives and come home feeling great about having successfully produced your content, here are some insights from my experiences on set…

Sluggish Ingress and Set-Up

A personal pet peeve of mine — this happens when people feel they have more time than they need to finish what is expected of them. I prefer to ease into things while still keeping a good pace of set-up and preparation, this allows for momentum for when things start to get exciting on set. When people arrive, be friendly and positive while subtly making sure things are moving along according to your planned schedule.


Allowing Distractions

This can be as simple as one team member who is constantly stopping everything for some behind-the-scenes photos, or a small clique that’s decided they’re entitled to smoke breaks as and when they please. Take control of your team and make sure everyone is doing their part to keep things moving at a good pace.

Mismanaged Production Schedules

A well-planned schedule allows for deviation and spontaneity while keeping to expectations on time and product. A poorly planned schedule breaks down the moment there is a slight change or minor problem. A disastrous schedule is one where props, sets, lights, make-up, styling, and crew are changed and swapped between each layout without any consideration for the time it takes to make the adjustments. This is time that could be saved by mapping out the production process beforehand, giving you a clear outlook on time estimates.


Lack of Clear Approval Hierarchy

True for both pre-production approvals and approvals for assets produced on set, a shoot that’s lacking a clear decision maker (whether this be client, agency, art buyer, producer, or photographer) usually tends to spend copious amounts of time either awkwardly discussing whether they should move on or passing the buck around in hopes that someone steps up to take the responsibility. This is easily avoided by designating a decision maker for approvals beforehand and ensuring they are reasonably accessible to approve assets as and when they’re produced.

Divisive Personalities

This applies to life in general, but nowhere is it more important than in production where communication, cohesion, and teamwork are absolutely essential to success. You can’t guarantee that everyone you work with is going to be agreeable and remember that someone might just be having a bad day. Exercise empathy, and work towards improving the quality of the experience of everyone on set regardless of the attitude they bring to the table. Try to ensure that you put teams together that you can expect to work reasonably well together and do your best to keep the working environment running smoothly and enjoyably for everyone involved.


Taking Too Many Breaks

Fairly obvious, but I’ve been on some sets where people decided to snack or take a load off at the end of every hour! This is excusable if you’ve got too much time on your hands, but as we all know that is very rarely the case. Make sure people don’t feel rushed or overworked, but keep it professional and make sure that they aren’t slacking off either.


Disrupted Flow

Have you ever found yourself happily producing work you really like with the help of like- minded individuals when suddenly things are brought to a pause by lunch being delivered, or a crazed fan who feels the need to share their obsession’s live updates with everyone? This can be disruptive to the creative process, and it can take a long time to get things going again. Sometimes the flow of creative juices that was working so well in the moment can’t be recreated at all. Always keep an eye out for this, and make sure that photographers and other creatives who are in the thick of it and experiencing flow are allowed the time to discover, explore, and create.

All photos used in this guide are from photoshoots I’ve shot personally and sometimes produced, taken with a Canon 5D Mk III with L-lenses, Sony A9 + 70-200 f/2.8, a Fujifilm X100S with 50mm teleconverter, and Contax G2 with a 50mm f/2.0 and Agfa Vista 400, shot in various locations including my studio.

What did you think of this article? If you found it useful, you might want to download a practical list I’ve put together of the 7 Most Common Mistakes People Make When Planning Commercial Photoshoots. Download your free copy now by clicking this link.

Are you experiencing any of these scenarios on your productions? Do you have any suggestions to improve this guide? Let me know by leaving a comment below, or if you had a project in mind while reading this guide get in touch and let’s get talking!