You’ve just signed off on a new proposal for an eLearning course and you realize that you will need to provide content for the build. When it comes to photographic content, there are a couple of viable options:
- source stock images
- hire a third party specialized in content development
- go the in-house route and manage a custom shoot yourself
If hiring a third party is out of your budget and stock photos aren’t unique enough or offer a scenario series for the course of interest, the in-house route is the best way to go. Directing a successful eLearning photoshoot, however, can be more complicated than you think.
We recommend these nine tips to help you plan, organize and keep things running smoothly while keeping your crew happy.
1) Determine, Design and Develop a Concept for the Shoot
Once your eLearning project has moved into the scripting stage, you should have a pretty good idea of what content needs to be built to visually support the course. Consult the scripting board and determine the story that’s to be told.
Where is the setting? What is the mood? How is it to be styled? Who or what are the subjects?
The goal is to develop a visual storyboard that complements the eLearning storyboard. Make sure you refine your ideas to where you have a clear and concise concept.
2) Create a Vision Board
A vision board is a tool used to visually communicate a concept that is to be executed. Surfing the net is an easy way to grab quick visuals. Creative hubs like Pinterest offer a myriad of inspiring designs and ideas. Save and utilize images that best represent the desired concept mood and/or composition.
Color palettes and words that visually communicate a voice are also key elements to a properly designed vision board. A well-developed vision board not only helps bring your ideas together, but serves as a creative guide for your talent crew during the process.
3) Get the Logistics Down Pat
Deciding on (and reserving) a location early on is key. Being aware of any necessary permits, seasonal weather factors and fees is important for staying within budget and managing everyone’s agenda. Planning a schedule and factoring in logistical details, including set-up and break-down is crucial.
4) Create a Shot List
Make a detailed list of shots to take with subjects and props needed. Add as many inspo pictures as possible to assist in communicating with the crew and photographer on the desired angle, lighting and composition. Make sure to note any important details like sequence, moments to capture within each scene, models in the scene, wardrobe for each scene, props, necessary equipment, etc.
5) Gather Your Subject(s) and Props
Whether you’re photographing people or products, you will need to have your subjects ready, available and organized in the storyboard. If you plan on using models, make sure to ask each person who will appear in a photo to sign a release form. A signed release form states that you have the rights to the photos, preventing any potential legal issues.
Props help a scene feel more realistic and create context. Sourcing props can be fun, yet daunting at the same time. They can easily push your budget out of scope and too many props can be distracting and take attention away from the focal point of an image. Sometimes less is more. Referring to your vision board and inspo pictures is a good way to keep things in check.
6) Be Technically Prepared
Photoshoots can be very stressful if you’re not properly prepared. A photographer should come on set fully prepared with multiple lens options, lighting diffusers, reflectors, scrims, fully charged batteries, etc. A tripod can be used to control shaky hands or capture a series of images set in the same position.
Tethering to a computer/tablet during a shoot is an excellent way to manage and direct. Tethering offers both the director and the photographer an instant visual allowing for an opportunity to make any in-the-moment adjustments.
7) Understand the Lighting
Lighting is the single most important element when you’re looking to create a professional end result. Natural light helps create the best effect. When natural light is not available, other light sources can be used. Lighting diffusers even out light sources and make light softer when the light source is harsh.
A good understanding of directional lighting will allow you to create 3-dimensional looks versus flat-looking images. Always be conscious of background colors. Strong wall colors, for example, can reflect on your subject and alter color tones.
8) Don’t Tight Crop Your Shots
Knowing when to crop and when to allow cropping to happen in the editing stage is good practice. Having extra space around your subject to work with is better. For example, if the crop is too tight when taking a vertical image and later on you need it to fit in a horizontal space, there may not be enough of the image on the sides to fit properly in your desired frame. Including extra space around your subject could save you lots of time at a later date when editing.
9) Make Sure Your Crew Is Happy
Photoshoots can sometimes be painstakingly long. Make a point of having either snacks or providing food and beverages during the shoot. Taking breaks in a timely manner helps people stay focused on set.
Thoroughly planning your eLearning photoshoot will save you time and money. It makes the process efficient, reduces stress, and provides a more professional end product. Don’t forget, though, to have fun and put your models at ease. Don’t be afraid to experiment and allow creative spontaneity. Spontaneous photos can sometimes be your best shots.