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Using Call Sheets to Enhance Your Production

Using Call Sheets to Enhance Your ProductionIf your photography focuses on people, or if you often find yourself working with several members in a crew, a call sheet might be something you want to make sure is a part of your production. Whether for a 5-member wildlife photography team, a commercial advertising shoot or a family portrait many photographers can help their production with this simple little document.

What’s a Call Sheet?

A call sheet is usually one – sometimes two – pages of a document that have all the information everyone in your cast and crew need to know before a photo shoot. They contain such critical information as the photographer’s contact information, crew and cast names, location details and address, special requests, concept details and more. Essentially, it’s the master sheet to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Forms can vary per photographer – some like to add special design work that conforms to their brand, others prefer multi-page documents with advertising photo shoots with a very high production value – but I’ve created one I like to use for personal test concepts and other medium-small production photo shoots.

Info on a Call Sheet

Here’s what I recommend having on yours, and you can add more or less per your own preference. I’ve included a real one of my own from a recent test photo shoot as an example. This is all done in a simple word doc using two columns up top and one column below for the special instructions.

  • First and foremost is always my logo. I like to have that on there for branding presence.  Whether you include one is up to you. You can also include special design work or branding if you want to spruce the document up, just make sure the file size doesn’t become too large for e-mail.
  • Always include the date and time – be sure to list what day it is too. You’d be surprised how easy it is for people to forget this without a reminder.
  • Where you are meeting and if you are going to any secondary locations are a must. Be sure you have the right address on there. If it’s particularly difficult, I’ll even include a custom Google Maps link.
  • Some of the next info is optional, but I like to include as a sort of boilerplate what media the shoot is in, any client and compensation. This is good for model comps.
  • Next is my contact info and web address. Musts for me so the client knows what to expect for my style and how to reach me with any questions.
  • Following a list of the cast and crew. Sometimes I’ll provide contact for them if people will be meeting in different locations, but generally I keep mine on their as the sole contact to avoid confusion.
  • The column on the right I use for my timeline and a quick concept brief. This gives everyone an expectation of when we need to have certain things done or where we need to be. Sometimes when I get zoned into shooting I depend on my crew to keep me on timeline. The concept brief is really for more elaborate personal tests. On a simple model comp I generally won’t include something like this.
  • Lastly on the bottom I include any wardrobe items I want the person(s) to bring. This list may be longer on photo shoots where I don’t have a stylist, and just filler on shoots where I do. For those of you shooting families, it’s a great place to include what colors to avoid or bring, if you want simple of stripes, etc.

Using Call Sheets to Enhance Your Production

So why do you need a call sheet? Because it makes everyone’s life easier – especially your client and crew. Remember photography isn’t just a product it’s a service too. Be sure to add this extra step of service to your photography. It’s easy and definitely worth it.

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Matt Dutile
Matt Dutile

is a New York City based travel and lifestyle photographer. He recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce a book on Mongolian nomads. Check the page out to learn more. You can view his website or join in on his Facebook page as well.

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