Congratulations you’ve been commissioned your first job! Now before you hang up the phone or close your email to revel in celebratory bliss, there are a few things you should ask your client that will help the shoot run smooth and give them the final product they need. Because there is often a shortage of time on shoots and you’re dealing with many different variables / competing needs, it’s best to get as much info as possible upfront. Here are some things to ask.
What’s the budget? I’m not sure why this is often left to the end of the discussion, but don’t be afraid to ask what the budget is early on in your talks with the client. There is no need to beat around it – I literally just ask “What’s the budget for this?”
Can you scout the location? Will it be possible for you to see the location of the shoot before hand? This could be a few days before or an hour before the shoot. It always best to check out the location before if possible – that way you’ll get an idea of what your approach will be and if you’ll need any special equipment.
How much time will you have? This is usually provided, if not, make sure to ask how much time you’ll have to shoot the subject or space. The length of the shoot will greatly change your approach and allow you to pace all the shots properly.
Should the image be vertical or horizontal? This is rarely an issue but on certain jobs this might be very important. This is also something that your client might forget to mention. They imagine the image clearly in their mind so it’s obvious what orientation it should be.
What type of image are they looking for? A full body portrait or a ¾ one? Wide interiors or details? You should always try to get a mix of shots, but it’s important to get the main shot nailed down first before you start experimenting with variations.
Who is your main contact? There is a good chance your subject won’t be your main contact. For portraits it might be an assistant or PR person. For a space it might be the manager or owner. Even if they’re not actual shoot, you should have their name and number in case something goes wrong or someone doesn’t show up.
How soon will they need the images? Be sure to find out how soon after the shoot they’ll need the final images. This really helps in planning shoots the following days and when you’ll edit images. It’s easy to get caught up in shooting if you have a few jobs in a row. However, all of that stuff need to be edited and turned around, so know your deadline!
Are there other things you like to ask the client once you know you have the job? Let us know in the comments.