I have a young associate photographer I’m mentoring and she’s coving a simple PR event for a client. These are a few of the shoot tips I sent along to help her have the best chance of success. It would work on any of your shoots really, and might be a nice overview for the young photographer getting ready for an assignment.

Flash Notes:
Using the flash off camera like you do is great, or on camera bounce… anything to soften shadows, etc. (note: she has the flash on a TTL extension cable ‘Statue of Liberty’ style. I used to always shoot that way. Now with the situations I’m in and the Gary Fong light softeners, I’m fine with bounce flash on the camera.)
Drag Shutter:
Try some with the drag shutter too… a few normal frames, then just try one in a dim environment with some normal glow in the background to do Shutter Priority and 1/15 or 1/30 of a sec, holding steady. That helps things not look so much like they are in a cave.
Ask for the Shot:
Don’t be shy to occasionally ask a person to keep doing what they are doing for one last frame, and/or look at you and smile for one frame.
It’s OK to ask people (wedding style) to turn toward the camera for two quick clicks… then you have both the mingling, and the safe shot.  I find 90% of clients prefer using mostly the safe shots.
Don’t be afraid to shoot lots of frames as long as you’re not in a situation where it’s obnoxious… I’m sure you can figure that out. But I find people shoot too little more than too much.
Be the Monkey:
Chimp a lot (look at how the shots look on the LCD). Nothing’s worse than 5 minutes of shots that are way off.
Over time, you can be a freak like me and not only set manual white balance (Flash for flash and Cloudy for outdoor shoots) but also tweak the color  even more using the White Balance Shift function)
Manners (really!):
Arrive 15 minutes early to set up. Dress at the level of the attendees or one notch above. Relax and smile  🙂  Manners matter more than you realize… it’s MR. XYZ, and ‘Thank you very much”, “It’s a pleasure to meet you”. One of my early shoot s for the AP, was with a multi-millionaire (now billionaire) and one of the first things he commented on was my manners and upbringing.. not my photos, my manners… and I was raised in rural PA, working at a mom and pop gas station and with a dirt race track literally 200 yards behind the house.
Be Prepared:
Pre-visualize the shoot. What will be good shots, what you’ll do to position yourself, your shot checklist. Ask the client for what shots would be great for their uses. Have a backup camera, lots of batteries, a backup flash. It’s the mark of a pro and if you shoot enough, things will fail.
After the shoot, debrief. Think about what went well and what you’ll change next time. Do this after every shoot and you’ll get better and better.
I shoot JPeg Large… and deliver in the range or 9×9″ at 300PPI/DPI as Jpegs. Files end up around 1.2-1.5 MB
Pitch the bad stuff and redundant stuff (you keep, but don’t deliver).
Give the client all the shots that are left with a quick/’light prep’ so they are in the ballpark for usage. All of your top shots… for me, it’s usually like my best third or quarter of images…. put in a ‘Top Favorite Images Only’ folder. That way they can go one place and be sure all the shots are there, and one folder when they just want a few good shots fast and easy. I include a PDF thumbnail sheet on the CD.Working in Apple’s Aperture, this is very easy.
I try to mail out CDs (2 identical copies with a reasonably pro looking label) in a business week and I let clients know that if they need something sooner, I can e-mail them a few shots anytime.

Hopefully these basics are so common that you’ll think I’m crazy to mention them… but from experience, I see many young photographers missing at least one of these areas, and that’s all it takes to blow you chance to impress a client.

Happy shooting!

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