How to Schedule A Photo Shoot to Maximize Your Investment [Podcast]

Michael Branscom

Michael Branscom

This podcast is Part 3 of a series entitled "Maximizing Your Relationship with a Professional Photographer."  Scroll down to learn about Part 1 and Part 2. 

Michael Branscom is a Philadelphia-based photographer who specializes in independent school still photography and film. Michael and I have worked together for the benefit of schools for over a decade. Michael was a journalism major in college, which greatly contributes to his incredible photojournalistic style and ability to capture campus moments perfectly and unobtrusively.

This podcast is Part 3 of a series with Michael titled “Maximizing Your Relationship with a Professional Photographer.”  Our goal for this series is to help save your school time and money and to make your job easier. 

In this podcast, we talk with Michael about the shoot day. We discuss how to get the most bang for your buck, how to schedule wisely, how to ensure your shots will be useable, how to build your library, and lots of trade secrets that will make your shoot go smoothy and generate incredible images for your school. 

I wear a lot of hats at Minnehaha Academy in the marketing role, including photography. The podcast was full of great tips and helped me figure out how to better organize the times when I go into the classrooms to take photos. Academic photography has its own nuances and is different than family photography or portrait photography, so it was helpful to hear your advice.
— Rebekah Peterson, Director of Marketing and Communications, Minnehaha Academy, MN

“The best shots come anytime the students are leading the learning, up and out of their desks, or outside. Student–centered makes the best pictures.”

— Michael Branscom, Photographer

Michael Quoted

"We want to be sure you’re managing expectations on shoot day."

"I can’t tell you how many times we couldn’t use the photos because the students weren’t in dress code."

"Sometimes it looks so set up when it’s a beautiful building but you stick two students in the middle of a field where they’d never be."

"For marketing purposes, photos of seniors have the least mileage. Sometimes they look like they're 22-years-old."

"It’s really helpful for the photographer to have a “do not photograph” list with pictures of those students."

"Ask the person who’s escorting the photographer to have a bag of spirit wear to put on students when needed."

"Save your best images for yourself. Don’t give them out. As soon a people see the pictures, then the lifetime of that picture just got shorter. Hold out and wait for the big use."

What You'll Learn

  • Choosing the Day: local vs. national, free range vs. scheduled, time of year, weather, calendar
  • Arranging the Schedule: time allotment, proximity, lighting contingencies (see sample schedule below)
  • Alerting the School
  • The Shoot List: campus, people and situations, classrooms, subjects, etc.
  • The Day Of: tour, escort, maintenance on call, dress code, beautify campus, etc.
  • The Elusive Viewbook Cover Shot
  • The Miracles — and Limitations — of Photoshop (see example below)
  • After the Shoot: what your next steps should be

Schedule for Day School

(Boarding school schedules go into the night.)


Caption LEFT: original photo  MIDDLE: retouched photo replacing the cookie boxes for a laptop and removing lettering from shirt  RIGHT: photo as it appears on search piece


Be sure to listen to Maximizing Your Relationship With A Professional Photographer Part 1: End Use Drives Strategy with Michael Branscom about the importance of having a strategy for what kind of images you want as well as how and where you'll use them. Download the webinar for free.  Part 2: Selecting the Right Photographer and Writing the RFP will be available at a later date. 

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