The Assistant’s Manual: Behind the Scenes with Social Media with Alissa Zimmerman
Ah, the world of social media. Facebook, blog posts, Instagram—the list goes on and on. We are trained to shoot, shoot, shoot, then share, share, share. Our first instinct as professional photographers is to post the final polished images from a shoot so our clients and followers can see the incredible work we do. Now take that a step further: What if your clients had the ability to see the story behind the image? The “how to” of what went into making a breathtaking image you post, the story behind the image, is actually just as powerful in creating an engaged audience and loyal following.
Part of being an assistant to Sal is capturing these moments behind the scenes, and 99.9 percent of the time, Sal doesn’t even realize I’m doing it.
These four tips will help you capture your talents in the right light. Just remember that you still have to protect your brand at all times.
Entertain, but don’t forget to educate as well.
Showing behind-the-scenes images or video from a shoot or wedding still has to have some kind of purpose. Who are you posting these for? We post behind-the-scenes images for both our photography clients as well as other professionals in the industry. There are typically three different perspectives when it comes to photographing people as your subjects: the photographer (behind the camera), the subject (in front of the lens) and the assistant (on the outside looking in at the magic happening).
These images and videos give clients an insider view. First and foremost, they get the full experience of working with our team—from painting the vision for their wedding day or photo shoot, to actually experiencing being photographed the day of their event, then finally the experience of seeing their final images. This is where the behind-the-scenes images can take that experience to the next level for those clients. They can see what was going on while they were wrapped up in the moment of being photographed. They have these images to spark the stories and memories that went into their awesome experience with our studio.
Other professional photographers who follow us gain ideas and education from these images. Whenever we post an image from any type of shoot, the questions we get always start with “How…” This is a perfect time to showcase your lighting setup or your disaster of a room that you were able to turn into gold in the final image. It is always nice to have these behind-the-scenes shots to show that it’s not really about what type of gear you have, but how you adapt to challenges.
Show the lighter side of being a photographer.
A big part of why people hire you is your personality. I take full advantage of social media to showcase the lighter side of our team dynamic on the job. Of course it’s a grind, of course we kill ourselves every day, but more than anything, we love what we do and we are constantly having a blast with each other and our clients. I think it’s important to show your clients the dynamic of your team. It gives them insight into what it would be like to work with you.
I always try to see things from other people’s perspectives, so when I post certain things to social media, I always ask myself: “Would I want to see something like this from someone I follow?” If the answer is no, I don’t waste my time taking the shot. I tend to follow and engage with people who showcase the fun side of what they do for a living, with a nice balance of the reality behind the work (for example, showing how exhausted your team is after a 14-hour wedding, or showing behind-the-scenes images of the amount of prep work that goes into some of our creative shoots).
Use the right camera.
This is something you may think is irrelevant to the topic, but the quality of your images actually does play a big part in the purpose of the behind-the-scenes. As the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you. It’s important to always have a vision and a game plan going into a photo shoot so you’re able to prepare certain gear in advance if necessary. You never know when you’ll want the behind-the-scenes images for blog posts or articles.
iPhone. I use my iPhone for the behind-the-scenes shots of our day-to-day activities (traveling, selfies), and for quick snapshots to document where we were that can be immediately posted to social media.
Personal Camera. Sal and I attended Adobe MAX a few months ago, where we received a free Fujifilm X-T10 camera body with an 18–55mm lens as a gift (insane, right?). This camera has been a massive game changer for me. It’s lightweight and reliable, and the image quality is to die for. Sure, it doesn’t fit in my back pocket, but I have it with me in my purse at all times. My favorite part? Its wireless capabilities allow me to transfer images directly to my phone for immediate upload to social platforms.
Professional Camera. We pack a second camera when we know we’re doing a photo shoot that will be published online in a blog or in Shutter Magazine (for Sal’s monthly “How I Got the Shot” article, for example). It’s always better to have high-resolution and high-quality images when you’re being published, especially for print. Sometimes, I don’t even pack an additional camera—I just grab Sal’s camera while he’s taking a break from shooting to show him setting up lights and showing the model how to pose.
Make your people look good.
This is probably the most important piece of advice you’ll take away from this article. You have to protect your brand at all times—and the main part of your brand is the people behind the name. Would you want someone to post an unflattering picture or video of you? No. So why would you do it to your people?
Flattering angles. We know how to pose people; hell, we do it for a living. So if you’re taking behind-the-scenes pictures and your photographer has stink-face, looks like she has three chins, or looks like she has put on 50 pounds overnight, that is your time to adjust that person or your angle. Again, you’re showcasing your brand, so put it in the best light.
Talking. If you know Sal, you know he rarely ever stops talking. I like to take behind-the-scenes pictures of him while we’re filming for new projects or Shutter Network. It’s a challenge to capture someone mid-sentence without making them look absolutely ridiculous. Don’t ever post those pictures. Just don’t. I give Sal a little nod while he’s talking that lets him know I’m taking the shot; he’ll slow down or take a pause from talking to make a more appealing face. That’s when I have a three-second moment to capture the shot I want.
Eating. As a rule of thumb, don’t be a photo ninja and take candid shots of people eating. It never works out in anyone’s favor. If you want to show something tied to food, make an announcement and let everyone know you’re taking a photo so no one is shot mid-face-stuffing. It’s just common courtesy.
Behind-the-scenes shots on social media are such a powerful tool for your brand. It gives an unprecedented view into what most people never get to see, and has so much more impact when tied to a final polished image. There is an art to taking behind-the-scenes images and video—it’s a photography skill just like any other. Take the time to perfect the craft, and watch what type of impact it brings to your social media presence.