We often hear from companies that they are trying to save on creative and keep to a budget. There’s lots of advice on how to save money on creative, but there’s also the other approach.

We’ve come up with 16 Ways to Blow All Your Budget on Creative.

Here’s our version of what not to do:

1. Don’t Be Prepared

It’s easy to underestimate the scope and size of a photoshoot especially if you’ve never done event planning before.

There is no more surefire way to blow your budget than not to prepare well enough for the creative shoot.

2. Leave all the ideas to the creative team

If you leave all your ideas to the creative team, you’re paying them for their time in coming up with ideas when all along they may not match the vision you have for your branding. This can mean a lot of back and forth and redos trying to get the right message across.

It’s always best to come in with a firm idea of what you want. Narrow it down and start strong by contributing you and your teams original ideas to the photoshoot. Nobody knows your brand like you.

3. Pay Premiums for Studios

Paying for studios is something that people always hate to do. Possibly because it is so hard to see the tangible value of a hire space, so in that way, it will always expensive. But one thing that can make it even more expensive is to go to the newest, fanciest studio. Shop around, compare studios there are hundreds of them.

When in doubt ask a photographer, they always know the best places to shoot for the most value especially if you can tell them what you need. No need to book a studio with a full kit of gear if your brief lends itself more toward natural light.

Do some research and it will stop you blowing all your budget here.

4. Don’t Have a Running Sheet

The success and failure of a photoshoot can come down the simplicity of a running sheet.

A running sheet is like a schedule for your photoshoot. It keeps everything moving along on time and making sure that all the photos get captured that day. If you don’t have a running sheet, the photoshoot team can get caught up on one set up and if you get behind on products that means some of them won’t be done by the end of the day.

It is crucial to have a running sheet if you want to save money on a photoshoot.

5. Don’t Order Your Product on Time

Surprisingly this is one that pops up again and again. Designers order their products, get all excited, book their photoshoot and then they call us a couple of days before saying that their products haven’t arrived on time. This means that the photoshoots need to be cancelled or postponed to another date. This gets expensive when you think of all the deposits to secure a studio, photography gear and sometimes a team.

Make sure you leave plenty of time between when your product is supposed to arrive and when you schedule your photoshoot. You suppliers aren’t always going to be able to deliver according to their estimates so leaving yourself a margin can save you greatly.

6. Hire people at the last minute

When you hire people at the last minute you give yourself no time to check for quality. To ensure that your team is right for you, you need to start weeks in advance, maybe even months. This gives you time to vet for trustworthiness, ability to deliver the shots you want and whether they fit within your budget.

Hiring at the last minute often puts a premium on the creative team who have to drop other obligations and come in and get on board. It can be even more expensive if you find somebody who fits the budget but who then bombs the project. This can led you… you guessed it… a reshoot.

7. Don’t worry about backups

I can’t tell you how many people cop out of photoshoot day. You spend weeks researching, interviewing and collecting the perfect team only to have the day come and you get a phone call at 7am to say that something else has come up. Freelancers are a flaky lot and they often have multiple projects going on at once.

One of the benefits of hiring an agency is guaranteed delivery of the team and no disaster. If you’re not going that route, at least make sure you’ve got a couple of contacts saved in your phone that you can call in case of emergency.

8. Forget to negotiate

Like any industry, if you’re experienced you know the value of certain things and how much they should be costing. If you’re a newbie in any arena you’re likely to be paying premium prices without knowing about it.

Always do research to get an idea of what creative elements should cost and there’s no harm in trying to negotiate on getting extra studio hours included or bundle deals on gear.

Often there can be win-win situations if your budget is decent sized and you can use certain suppliers to provide you with more of your essentials.

9. Skip catering

Catering is one area that people often skip when they’re trying to keep photoshoot costs contained. However, until you’ve done a number of photoshoots, you don’t realize how counter-intuitive this is. Getting the team to buy their lunch usually means that they go their separate ways in search of the nearest food, this can be further than you think especially in industrial type areas where a lot of studios are located. This means that stragglers will slow the group down causing the photoshoot not to resume as quickly as possible.

On photoshoot day, your biggest asset is time.

Keeping everyone together inside the studio is the best way to make sure everyone gets back to work quickly. It also means that the team aren’t skipping meals in favour of keeping the photoshoot going on schedule, causing fatigue and loss of concentration later in the day. Creatives need to be sharp to spot things that can be addressed on shoot day, saving hours of post-production which will come out of your pocket.

10. Don’t leave time for changing outfits and locations

One mistake a lot of brands make is wanting to shoot 70 products in a morning and thinking that five minutes per look can fit into under six hours. If you have the right set up and a tripod with an experienced photographer it is possible to get the right shot in five minutes. What’s not possible is for the model to spend three minutes changing and the photographer to get the shot in two minutes.

Lots of looks require different accessories, jewellery and shoes. Not to mention there are different setups which mean the lighting needs to be moved and tested, then if you’re going to change locations there’s travel time and lighting set up.

So don’t forget to be realistic when scheduling timing or you may make it through only 50 of your 70 products. Whether you reshoot or leave them out this is a very expensive mistake.

11. Don’t leave enough time for looks

Looks take time. Hair and makeup is usually scheduled for an hour or two at the start of the photoshoot depending on the professionalism and speed of your team. If you’ve got a concept that requires changing beauty looks in the middle of the day, I can guarantee you it’s going to take longer than the fifteen minutes you mentally budgeted.

Depending on the complexity of the look, redoing it can take an hour of your shooting time. If you don’t budget this time in, you’ll be running out of time before your studio time runs out at the end of the day.

12. Assume your photographer can shoot through mid-day sun

A big factor on outdoor shoots is the natural phases light goes through throughout the day. All professional photographers know that there will be conditions under which they won’t be able to get the kind of photos that will help a brand and this often occurs around midday when the bright sun is casting harsh shadows.

Sometimes this needs to be waited out, or the time can be made us of by going back to the studio. Either way, it can be the death of your photo shoot if you don’t take this into consideration. Assuming that consistent shooting is possible throughout the whole day can mean unexpected setbacks causing some products not to get photographed which can mean an entire day of reshoot expenses. Uh oh…

13. Take your time making non-creative decisions

I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been on a photoshoot and seen people argue about this or that kind of gear, or where to set up hair and makeup. Where to eat lunch and general chit chat discussions which cause the whole photoshoot to lag behind.

There are a lot of decisions to be made in the moment on shoot day but these should all be creative decisions. Any other decisions your spend your time on is detracting from the outcome of the photoshoot. Make a decision and move on quickly.

14. Don’t assign a co-ordinator

A coordinator is essential on any decently sized photoshoot. Whether it be a creative director, a marketing manager or a dedicated producer, there needs to be someone watching the clock, consulting the shot list, making sure things are on track and moving through the day as planned. Think of it as a project manager for creative.

Without someone pushing everyone along, productivity can slag and output can fall behind. If you want to reshoot and blow all your buget on creative, don’t assign a coordinator.

15. Don’t do a shot list

Not making a shot list is a surefire way to blow all your budget on creative. Having a clear idea of the kinds of photos you need and having a clear way to communicate them is what makes a photoshoot work.

Go in knowing the list of photos you need, whether they be landscapes, portraits, close crop, banner images, hero shots, different angles of the products. Having it all drawn out allows the team to all be on the same page and budget the right amount of time to get it all done.

16. Don’t budget for props and backdrops

A photoshoot without props and backdrops is well… boring. A photo is largely made up of the elements you put into it and a couple of well placed props can add a new dimension to the images or bring focus back to the brand.

It would be a huge waste for the photoshoot budget to go ahead and at the end of it, nobody can recognize any distinction in the photos to attribute to your brand. Allowing a small budget for props that will contribute to the overall message of the shoot is a must if you want to get maximum value from the photoshoot.

So there you have it, all you need to do is avoid all 16 things on this list and you’re well on your way to spending wisely on your creative project.


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