Creative Compass: The Importance Of A Photography Brief

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Reading through a client brief for one of my current projects inspired me to write this article. In the world of photography in this region, the power of one key element is often underestimated: a complete photography brief. Some newly started photographers do not push back for one, and this may be due to the immense pressure that they face as art creators because they are always eager to attract new clients. Think of a brief as the middle ground where the client and the photographer meet. Its role is to amplify the client’s objectives, while steering the photographers’ focus into the right creative territories. There are many key elements to cover in a photography brief like: timelines, preference for stylists, location, number of images, a shot list, models, the story the images need to tell, how they need to be told, budget (as it helps measure the scale of the project,) and the list goes on… When I asked my good friend Bjoern Lauen, (a Dubai based photographer) what he looks for in a photography brief, this is what he had to say:

The points I look for in a creative brief are the elements that enable me as a photographer to create imagery that meets the client’s expectations. The brief is a literal translation of an idea that has been developed by a creative team into written and spoken words that allow and outsider to understand the idea and the thoughts behind it.”

Since producers also play a crucial role in shoots, I also asked my dear friend Alina Al Hamdani the same question and here is what she had to say:

I like briefs that are detailed, visual, and communicate clearly the background, the scope, the message, and the deliverables.”

The more detailed a brief is, the more successfully it fulfills its purpose as a compass that guides both the client and the photographer. This helps ensure that the best outcome is delivered, and that the client has a document to look back at for reference as the project progresses. The worst brief is one that is verbal in its nature, because both parties tend to forget key points and it is open to misinterpretation. A brief needs to be documented, and cannot be done over a phone call or in a meeting only. To me, a “perfect” brief is not only a document that clarifies what needs to be created in terms of images, but also provides stimulus and inspiration for the photographers to refer to during their creative process. My friend Jonathan, a producer at Araman Studio, also shared his input on what a good brief does:

The best briefs are the ones that are creatively challenging. The ones that bring up the proper questions, such as: What can be done here that hasn’t been done before?”

There are times where clients are unable to adequately explain what it is that they are looking for in their images. In such cases, my recommendation would be to ask them for an inspiration board that consists of snippets of images that are close to what they are looking for in terms of photography style and colors. One important thing to note is that a brief is not always set in stone. There is always room for it to evolve as long as both parties are aligned on timelines and expectations are managed. I hope that this sheds some light on how clients can help photographers and producers help them.

Should you wish to contact me for a photo shoot or to learn more about the services I offer, please don’t hesitate to reach out on info@issask.com

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