How do I make a brief for a photo shoot?

Modified on Sun, 27 Nov 2022 at 05:56 PM

A detailed brief can spell out a photo shoot's requirements and prevent costly reshoots later on. The best photo briefs contain the following important elements:

  1. Overview

  2. Shot list

  3. Mood / style

  4. Location

  5. Contact

  6. Subject / models

  7. Deliverables

  8. Retouching

  9. Inspiration shots

  10. Timeline and due date

  11. Rates

  12. Releases / COI

  13. Brand guidelines / style guide


Start with a description of the project. This should outline what the project aims to achieve, provide relevant background, and indicate where the images will ultimately live.


Shot list

A shot list is a list of images you would like the photographer to capture. This list will help your photographer understand not only what to photograph, but also the scope of the project, necessary equipment, set-up requirements, and staging requirements.


We encourage you to work with your photographer to develop your shot list.


Sample shot list:

  • Alice at her desk

  • Alice working with a customer

  • Alice on the phone

Mood / style

Describe the look and feel you'd like for your images. You can include details such as color palettes, tone, lighting, art direction, and emotional feel. See also "brand guidelines" below.



A project can take place in a location that you provide (such as a property owned by your company), a studio, or a secondary location scouted by your photographer.


If you selected the location, be sure your photographer knows where to go, how to get there, and any pertinent instructions. Note that locations not owned by your company may require permits and/or location agreements, which could add time and cost to the project.


If the location is the photographer's to choose, give them a description of what type of setting you'd like.



Who will be your photographer's main point of contact on the day of the shoot? List all names and contact information.


Subject / models

Who will appear in your images: An employee? A customer? Let your photographer know if you will expect them to cast models or subjects. Be sure to describe the models or subjects you'd like to see and how many you'd like.



Detail how many images you need. Be sure to include sizing, specs, and whether you will want RAW files included.



Let the photographer know if you would like retouched images. The Contently platform allows you to comment on images uploaded by the photographer. You can indicate which images you'd like retouched and even select specific areas of images you'd like adjusted.



Inspiration shots

Upload or link to images that exemplify the sort of images you'd like to come from your shoot. Example images speak volumes over written descriptions.


Timeline & due date

Outline the date and time a shoot will take place. Also list when you would like images delivered for review, when reviews will be completed by your team, and when final retouched images should be delivered.


Make sure you review and approve images within the agreed-upon timeframe. Freelancers schedule their time carefully so any delays could jeopardize the project.


We strongly recommend collaborating with your photographer to determine key dates and confirm their availability and turnaround times.



Indicate the overall rate for the project and whether it includes travel costs. We strongly recommend compensating photographers if travel time exceeds one hour.


Contently's starting rates can be found here but all projects are unique. Your photographer will be able to provide a more accurate quote once you outline the scrope of the project.



Indicate if you will need model releases and upload them to either the Story Requirements tab or the Assets tab so that your photographer can print them before the shoot and get the necessary signatures. Insured photographers will be able to produce a certificate of insurance (COI) upon request at the time of the shoot if needed. Make sure you let them know your requirements when setting up the project so they can plan accordingly.


Brand guidelines/style guide

Let your photographer know if your brand has any style guidelines for photography and provide a link or attachment.


Getting started

To get started, set up a kickoff call with your photographer before finalizing your brief. They will be able to collaborate on a shot list, help with creative direction, and advise on a realistic timeline.


If you need help finding a photographer, submit a talent request.

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