How Video Shoots Differ From Photo Shoots

Photography and videography are similar and yet very different. Regardless of whether you’re a commercial photographer, a fashion photographer, or a lifestyle photographer, these types of shoots are all very demanding, and require different sets of tools, crew and skills. It is diffiucult to say whether a still shoot or a motion shoot will be less demanding – both require precision, skill, advance planning and highly technical expertise with the best technical gear possible to achieve professional results. Videos and still photography asests can take equal time to produce if the end result is to be utilized as equal assests.  The end usage is really the key in determining the amount of production necessary to achieve the right goal.

From pre-planning, coordination, to the crew required to create a successful project there are many moving parts that need to be synchronized to have a strong photo or video shoot on a commercial level.  Social media has done a terrific job at trivializing imagery and making everything look easy and in some cases it is, however, when a client shows you a low res post they found on the internet and says, “Ok, make my brand look like this.”  It is quite a different story.  It takes quite a bit of expertise from everyone on the team to do but very possible.

This editorial is just a basic overview of the similarities between the two types of shoots, and how they are different. While this will not be an in-depth study of the differences between photography and videography, it does touch on the logistical considerations when planning a photography or video shoot. Whether you’re a beauty photographer shooting with models, a corporate photographer shooting executive headshots, lifestyle photographer capturing that perfect moment or something else entirely, both photo and video shoots require forethought and professional organization.

Still Photo Shoots

Executing a photo shoot occurs in three basic phases – Preproduction, Production, and Post Production.  Each has its own set of players and demands to complete each phase.

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1. Preproduction

Before shooting starts, lots of advance planning and logistics are needed. This is commonly known as Preproduction. Everything starts with the photographer learning about the project. Photographers consider the needs of the client, including budget, number of photos to be delivered ,and locations required for a shoot. Once the details are clear, the photographer will go to work planning out the look and feel of the shoot and different types of crew members needed to make it all work. In Preproduction, it requires thinking about the crew’s travel expenses, hourly rates, insurance, equipment, catering, craft, and other factors.

For a photographer like Mark DeLong, clients can expect a lot of advance planning for a shoot. Perhaps the client has a specific idea of where the shoot should take place. If not, it may be in the hands of the photographer. The photographer must then come up with an idea and may be required to pitch it using sample photos and/or storyboard drawings.

Gathering the right crew is the next step. Often, a photographer will have a crew in mind as they draw up an estimate. Once the estimate gets approved by the client, the photographer’s team reaches out secure the proper bespoke crew. It is imperative during this process to be completely clear with all crewmembers concerning payments, expectations and other details, especially since that may have changed since the idea's inception.

2. Hiring Talent (Pre Pro)

Hiring talent for a photo shoot can take many different forms.  Depending on the details of the project, the client might have talent already selected or a particular demographic they want to cover.  The photographer can also weigh in heavily on this as they may have worked in the past with the talent and know that they will deliver.

A hiring agency may be used to book talent when the client and photographer do not have specific talent in mind. These agencies are often based in large cities and can draw from a large pool of talent based on the client's requirements. This may include actors, models or celebrities.  All talent is not created equally and the years of experience can really help determine the correct fit for the project.

Throughout this process, designated crew are working to secure locations, prepare wardrobe and props, and begin creating a working schedule for the shoot. This schedule will dictate all of a shoot’s proceedings. It is vital these plans are managed by experienced professionals, who understand how to coordinate all aspects of a shoot.

Scouting locations for a photo shoot can be a real adventure. It requires creativity, imagination and planning to execute. For example, some photoshoots require a range of unusual or foreign settings, but with very limited travel time. Imagine having a day to shoot scenes in an old factory, the streets of London and a futuristic office building — but all must be located in New York where the shoot takes place. It’s important for clients to hire an experienced professional photographer who knows how to bring their vision to life, and construct all these scenes regardless of location.

3. Constructing the Scene and Shooting (Pre Pro - Production)

When the time comes to arrive on location for the actual photo shoot, whether in a studio or on location, all the pre produciont preparation reveals a smooth and seamless result for the client . This is where the photographer's experienced crew takes hold. While one crewmember is doing makeup another is being directed with the lighting. Stylists are setting up props, and the assistants are coordinating the next moves.

Showtime!  Once shooting begins – often early in the morning – set adjustments might be needed. This includes changing locations, makeup, props, wardrobe, lighting and more. There is a designated time when the crew will stop to eat lunch and regroup. When “Wrap!” is called at the end of the day, the photographer and crew make sure all the images are backed up and secure. Then props and wardrobe are repacked, gear is inspected for damage, and all rented gear, wardrobe and props are sent back to their respective rental companies..

4. Editing

The final stage of the photo shoot process is editing. The photographer works with the client in the editing to make the final selects before moving to the next phase.

Post production travels through various phases to satisfy a client’s requirements. Once the post is complete, and the client is satisfied, the photos are delivered to the client, and the project is complete.

Video Shoots

Like photo shoots, video shoots also consist of the same three phases – Preproduction, Production, and Post Production.  However, the phases are a little different with a different set of demands.

1. Preproduction

The preproduction process is highly dependent on the type of video is being shot. These can range from commercials to music videos and beyond, and so each client's close involvement and input are needed to understand the desired outcome.

Once the videographer, cinematographer, and/ or director has established a budget with the client and what type of product needs to be delivered, they can then move on to brainstorming ideas for the video. This requires coming up with a script and creating the concept and how it will all relate.  The client may request a storyboard pitch once an idea has been solidified.

The director must then put together a crew based on what is needed for the shoot. This can require many of the same players as in a photo shoot:

  • A producer
  • A prop and set designer/ art director
  • A lighting designer/ gaffer and electricians
  • A wardrobe stylist
  • A makeup artist and/or hair artist
  • A location scout, a production coordinator
  • A camera crew/ grips/ AC/ 2nd AC

Decisions on the necessary crew will inevitably affect and be shaped by budget, so there will be some give-and-take in this portion of the process depending on the scope needed for the project and the desired outcome.

Also, similar to photo shoots, preproduction may also require obtaining permits for shooting on location.  A location scout will need to interpret the vision of the director and work on negotiating the correct permissions.  A private location might not require permitting, but often there are fees to use a private space, such as a hotel, a bar and restaurant, or a private residence. A location scout might collect a range of locations for a shoot, visit the spots, and take photos of them. The director will then be able to choose from the locations to match the creative vision for a video.

2. Casting the Talent

Also, similar to photo shoots, if the client or director does not already have the actors in mind for a video, it will be up to a casting crew member or talent hiring agency to cast the video. This means auditioning actors/ actresses who fit the look and can achieve the desired result in the video project.

This process can take longer for videos than it does for photography. The reason is that acting on video requires vocal timing, accents, specific phrasing and facial expressions and let us not forget the reverse. Because such a large part of the motion video process is knowing the audience of the final video, the actors must be the right fit.

3. Shooting

Pre production is key for a successful video shoot.  Weather, shoot times, talent logistics and the distance between locations are all factors.  There are many details to consider for having a successful shooting day. The lighting, set, makeup, wardrobe, camera and crew must be well-prepared.

During the shoot, slight changes to the script may be made to accommodate new ideas to create a special moment.  It is critical for the director to get as many good takes as possible as to have options in editing.

4. Editing

Editing video is a different process from editing still images. In addition to color, composition, framing and brightness, there are additional factors like timing, cutting unnecessary dialogue and making sure the video message will translate to the audience. Editing a video can take a long time, from days to several months depending on the length of the project.

The addition of computer-generated imagery and other special effects in post-production can often involve post production team that will assist in the video. For certain projects like music videos, short films and commercials, this is a common addition.

Video editing is where much of the magic happens in film.  Minor changes in editing can have a tremendous impact on how effective a video is. For this reason, it is imperative to only work with only the best editors.

Key Differences Between Photo Shoots and Video Shoots

There are several key differences between doing a photo shoot and a video shoot, and they start from the moment the phone call with the client begins. Here are the key differences in photography vs. videography:

  • Different crew members are required.  The number of crew members can vary wildly depending on the budget. Sometimes high-budget photo shoots will have more crew than low-budget film shoots. However, adjusting for differences in scale and budget, video shoots generally require more crew than photo shoots. This is due to the complexities of capturing motion and the size of the gear usually used. 
  • Video can require more permits. Commercial filming projects require stricter permits than photography. Cities like Los Angeles, where professional filming is common, can be especially thorough about requiring permits.  Because of the difference in the usual footprint of a video shoot and a stills photography shoot, a video film crew is more likely to need shooting permits than someone taking still photos.
  • Video can require a much longer casting process. Due to the intricacies and subtleties of acting on film, it is likely that the casting process will be more involved for video shoots. An actress with the perfect face for a role may not have the right voice. An incredible actor may not be capable of a convincing Australian accent.  Because there are so many variables, the process can be far more complicated.
  • The shooting process can be more intensive with video. Instead of capturing a single instant in time, a video shoot is capturing a continuum of moments as we see them in real life.  There are more details that the director must focus on like performance, eyelines, possible cut points and audio.  If something is off, the whole effect of the final product can upset the result, which is why it is important to hire an experienced director like Mark DeLong to keep the video project cohesive.
  • Editing can be more intensive with video. Naturally, editing a video leaves a lot more room for managing details. Timing, special effects and other details can add lots of time to the process. Photography can also have intensive editing requirements, but with video, sound, varied lighting, cues, actors speaking lines correctly and clearly, shoot angles, graphics, and props are all considerations.

Contact Mark DeLong for Your Next Project

Mark DeLong is an Emmy Award winning photographer and director. With a unique ability to work across all aspects of a project, he is involved in every part of a shoot — from preproduction to creative re-touching to the final edits. Mark is known to consistently exceed client expectations with his attention to detail, the ability to direct large sets and the technical acuteness to produce the most elegant lighting schemes possible.

Mark is also an industry leader in client-photographer collaboration. He understands the necessity of involving the client to ensure the product is presented in the best way possible.

We manage all production details with efficiency and accuracy, and we handpick a team of professionals to make all aspects of a shoot go smoothly. We manage casting, scouting for locations and every aspect of post-production. This creates an element of consistency across our work, and clients can feel assured of a quality product with our team. If the project is important to you, then the project is very important to us.