Blog037: Make your marketing pop! Pre-production tips from a commercial photographer.

Marketing photography.

Being a small company we love to see other businesses grow and succeed, photography for marketing across the world varies, but a few things remain constant. This is a brief guide to making your next shoot a success!

Introducing the magical pre-production phase. Pre-production is all the work that happens upto the shoot. The elements below can make the difference between a smooth shoot, and a chaotic day. Including your photographer in the steps can help, we offer clients the option in helping with pre-production, as we are aware that often these elements can add a large stress into their already busy work days. Pre-production is one of the phases of the shoot that can be the most daunting for clients.

Whether you’re an in-company marketing director, a photographer or a client, here’s my take on pre-production, it’s probably a list that’ll change by the end of the year, so bear in mind the non-exhaustive nature of this list, also note this isn’t chronological, so feel free to mix it up*.

  • Locations
  • Talent
  • Props
  • Wardrobe
  • Styling
  • Crew
  • Oversight

*Note: Scheduling, budget, shotlists etc haven’t been included here as it’s usually done ahead of this.


Location, location, location. There’s a reason Hollywood and larger productions have location scouts. The location ties the brand, and talent to the story. Imagine a sports portrait of a sweating weight lifter in a library; this location would tell a completely different story to a plain wall, or a wide open factory with heavy metal and chains as a background.

Consider the location as another character to your brands story. In the big bang theory tv show the decision to make the elevator out of service on set was 2 fold. They needed a talking point and a way to transition from one section to another. The hallway became as iconic as the triple knock of Cooper, or Walowitz’s coloured skinny jeans.


People make a shoot unique and beautiful, the talent selection is often undertaken by the client or representatives for the client as they are requiring a specific look for the actual shoot. Finding talent outside of agencies can be hard. We love using authentic looking people, which means less models and more real people, in their environment. A builder has a grit that you can photoshop in easily! A little tip if you need general public is making contact with your local theatre guild. In smaller towns you might have to use friends and family to start, but that pool of people dries up fast when you get busy, trust me on this. 

Paying talent is something to help motivate people to show up on set, we’ve had entire shoots delayed by late models and no shows, so it’s good to have back up models in case of emergency. We like to shoot double on set so we have redundancies, although fully admitting to this being a luxury!

Props, Wardrobe & Styling

Your business has specific marketing questions that can be answered by a well thought out image. Often your business has a product that will act as a primary prop, other times it’s elements within the overall brand that requires props. Props can get costly fast; but help to sell a specific theme. Imagine a mechanic posing in a garage, with no tools or protective gear. It’d look weird, awkward and probably won’t sell the authenticity of the shot, they help sell the story you’re telling. Props can be rented, borrowed or purchased for shoots. Depending on the overall cost and value to the shoot you will know the best approach to this.

Wardrobe will tie in with styling, making sure the model is wearing the right gear for the job is key, or specifically telling the story of the scene with items is key. There’s no easy way to this as often you’ll be purchasing clothes for marketing shoots. We work with tourism and they often get creative, asking local businesses for donations of clothing in return for advertising the clothing¬† in a specific ad set.

Stylists & MUAH (Make up & hair) help keep the models looking great and making sure they have their hair in the right place. Stylists are key for making sure products are in their best presentation too.


Photographers, assistants, assistants assistants…. Often the crew on set feels like a crazy train of people, but fret not this is par for the course. Marketing images are built by these magnificent people, make sure they are aware of what you need out of the shoot and they will give you full heart!


The people that make sure the crew and the photographers are on point, and not chasing some creative avenue that has nothing to do with the specific images that you need. Client oversight on a shoot is really key to making sure that everything is going swimmingly, this representative of the client often has a clipboard with a shotlist, specific requests, or last minute adjustments to the ad images or a list of things that they need from the shoot. These are the unsung heros, corralling artists and models is a full time job unto itself.


Thats a wrap!

Marketing your business is a fun job, showing the world the uniqueness that is your brand, product or service can be very rewarding when done right. Consistent effort to show your story is key in building an authentic audience. Thanks for reading through this, as a commercial artist I love meeting new businesses and sharing their stories, I hope this article gave you some inspiration for your upcoming marketing photoshoot!

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