This case study brings me straight to the biggest and most important topic in my view when discussing location shooting with clients. What is involved when shooting on location with products? Even more specifically, we can talk about how do to ensure we have complete control over the environment to maximise the potential of a location. To help us do this we need to think about location styling.
The wrong way
My associate team and I have been shooting on location for a long time. We all have our own experiences with this and have learned so much. Before I met Mother Bran, my producer, when I was operating as an independent photographer, I used to be brought into a location shoot when all the work had been done. That is, the shot was set up, the location arranged, and products were arriving. All of this arranged outside of my dominion. I just rocked up and got on shooting. Doing what I knew…
I guarantee you that the above approach delivered mediocre results. If this sounds harsh, then I am sorry, however when a location shoot production is organised in scattered and disjointed ways then there is no way the shoot and subsequent images will hang together properly and deliver what you need. This is because what exists in that location, the furniture and props, will make the place look cool and attractive, however the risks of things just not quite working in line with the client’s ultimate message and brand identity are high. This tends to result up with disappointment somewhere down the line.
The Right Way
Once I had joined forces with my associates and discovered the absolute joy and clarity of how to service a client properly, my world was wide open with possibilities. As a team, we all work together to make location shooting a great experience for the client and crew. One of the most challenging aspects of taking a client through the production journey is to get them onboard with location styling as quickly as possible.
Leaving Things to Chance
I want to frame this in a way that cannot be undone. Product research and development and then the ultimate manufacture is all conducted to create the best possible product for the brand to go to market with. The critical stage for any communication to the customer is bringing that audience to a place where they can really appreciate all that product can offer them. This visual world may be aspirational, however all the elements must blend perfectly with the brands values. To put that into the context of a location photograph or film, everything in frame must work symbiotically. This can only happen if the entire environment has been chosen with intention. Nothing can be left to chance, even down to small items that sit on fireplaces or cupboards.
When the location has been chosen, not before, we can then start to get into location styling. We will need a shoot list to work from, and we must have done a physical and technical recce of the spaces and shoot opportunities. From this information the process of building up the visuals for each image can begin. This is where the Creative Direction and Production services come into their own. Working closely with a client a styling brief is worked out. This starts as an outline of what is needed. After which the creative director and chosen stylist will work though in detail exactly what those items are, and where they are going to come from. Our Creative Director will visualise all of this and then the shots can be agreed and locked off.
It’s Worth It
This process if followed properly guarantees results. More importantly, these are the results that the client is expecting. The practical challenges around how to make chosen routes happen can be tricky. Sometimes what at first seems like a great location can end up being discarded when the location styling process starts to unpick the space. The effort and time invested is worth it. The high-level execution of our finished location images is more than enough proof for anyone to see.