Gear Overview and Consistency is King!
One of the topics our students and Bootcamp attendees hear me discuss over and over is on the subject of consistency. As volume photographers, our work frequently places portraits taken at different times on different cameras in close proximity to each other. If we aren’t consistent in how we photograph, the overall impression to the customer will be, well, blech!
Imagine looking at a yearbook and being able to tell which images came from each of the 2 cameras and then to see the makeup images are even further off. Virtual sports teams take players from multiple cameras (we’ve had as many as 9 cameras at a time) and places them on the same virtual team. If they aren’t set up the same then the team image, regardless of smiles, game faces, poses, etc. will look bad because their jerseys are all different color tones. Of course a directory places family portraits alongside others taken on different nights over a week or two.
In the example below, ROW 1 is from an elementary yearbook with very inconsistent lighting and headsizing. There are even 2 students with clearly the wrong names. However, in ROW 2 we see much more consistent photography (even if it is the older posed against a muslin background that we are seeing less popular today.)
In all of these events, consistency is incredibly important. The good news is that with just a little education and practice, you can get it spot-on and put this concern behind you. Well, you can put it behind you until environmental situations throw you a curveball, but by then you will know how to adjust accordingly and get them back on track.
Every business has (or should have) standards of work in place. Years ago, I reviewed the McDonald’s manual and discovered multiple pages dedicated just to the process of an employee taking a restroom break! This ensures common standard practices and hygiene safety across all 13,000+ restaurants in the U.S.
The same holds true for your volume photography business. You should ‘follow the recipe’ and ensure that your staff members do too. Once you’ve done it many, many times, you then ‘know how to cook’ and can adjust if the situation requires it. Until you feel comfortable with that, though, you should ask a mentor, coach, or even qualified community members. That’s a great benefit of being here in the Systems 4 Volume Photographers community. You have people to ask until you feel able to competently make the call.
There are several ways in which you add systems and standardization to your business. But, since we’re in the Gear & Set-Up course, I’ll stick to those aspects. We’ll have a separate section on Equipment storage and we’ll start with Photo Gear and Lighting Setups.