What Is a Photo Shoot Coordinator?

By Rianne Hill Soriano
Most photographers rely on coordinators to handle pertinent details.

A photo shoot coordinator can be a full-time, part-time or contractual job for a professional photography production. This coordinator works closely with a photographer and other people involved in a professional photo shoot, which typically includes the on-camera talents, wardrobe stylist, hairstylist and make-up artist. Coordinators typically act as the business and scheduling side of any photography business. Their job starts with booking a shoot, and goes on to include various aspects of the production by communicating and coordinating the needs of the project prior to, during and after the shoot.

Scheduling

A photo shoot coordinator maintains constant communication with all people working on the project to ensure smooth scheduling. The coordinator finalizes the schedule and confirms with the key dates for the production with all involved parties well in advance. The final schedule is based on the availability of key personnel, the shooting location and the equipment to be used. Casting on-camera talents can also fall within the coordinator's domain. In such case, the coordinator typically communicates the schedule and venue for go-sees or auditions. For some projects, the job can also entail screening and hiring models, and calling those who get hired for the project.

Location Requirements

Coordinators often schedule and book venues for photo shoots. This can be in a photo studio, or at a private locations with owners who may or may not be used to the arrangements necessary for a successful photo shoot. The coordinator gets in touch with a potential location's contact person to inquire for permission to shoot, and takes care of arranging fees and rental contracts. Location scouts with photographers is an essential part of this process, as is conducting oculars with the rest of the production team so they can check and verify the chosen location prior to the actual shoot.

Art, Technical and Production Requirements

A photo shoot coordinator must be knowledgeable in the basics of photography. The job requires talking to both production and non-production professionals in the course of executing various tasks. Set management experience and an artistic background provide advantages when working on a photo shoot coordination job. Past work in event planning or coordinating can also be a plus when coordinating on photo shoot projects of all varieties, be they weddings, magazine layouts, or political event coverage.

Paperwork and Logistics

A photo shoot coordinator handles all of the “nitty-gritty” tasks, from on-site and off-site logistics to getting a location permit and finalizing equipment rentals. As such, it is essential for the coordinator to be skilled in drafting letter requests and using photography terms. The job requires an accommodating personality, especially when negotiating terms on contracts, talent releases, payments and rental expenditures. Usually, the coordinator makes sure that everyone signs an attendance sheet, and that vouchers and official receipts of expenses incurred during the shoot are collected and properly filed and documented.

About the Author

Rianne Hill Soriano is a freelance artist/writer/educator. Her diverse work experiences include projects in the Philippines, Korea and United States. For more than six years she has written about films, travel, food, fashion, culture and other topics on websites including Yahoo!, Yehey! and Herword. She also co-wrote a book about Asian cinema.