How to Communicate with Creatives


by: Bella Kotak

Whether you are just starting out or have already progressed in the industry, chances are at some point you will be working with other people collaboratively to bring on board different creative strengths to execute a single vision. As a photographer, I will be sharing my experiences and the knowledge I’ve learnt along the way when it comes to pulling together a creative team for a fashion shoot and how I ensure that we’re all on the same wavelength. In this event, the key creatives involved would be the hair artist, the makeup artist, the stylist, the set designer and any other person that would play a creative role in the day.


There are several platforms available when it comes to finding people that you’d like to work with. The most popular is of course, Model Mayhem but there are also other sites out there where creatives flourish such as Purple Port, Behance, Instagram, Tumblr and so on. Keeping alert on these sites might lead you to a person whose work you admire and who you can potentially bookmark for one day working with. I’ve come across models on Instagram, stylists on Tumblr and sometimes even had the opportunity to work with them just through reaching out and making contact!

When reaching out to potential creatives whom I’d like to work with and don’t personally know, I begin by sending out an email introducing myself, outlining my proposal for the shoot and sharing links to my work, both website and social media. If I already have an idea for the images I’d like to create, then it’s in this email where I usually would also attach a moodboard, a collection of images translating the visuals I am going for, to give my proposal further clarity.

It’s also in this initial email where I talk about outcomes and compensation. Whether this shoot is a collaborative one where everyone is doing it for prints, if I have been commissioned by a magazine, if we are submitting the story to a magazine/ blog or if I am pulling together a paid team in which case I ask what are their rates and availability? I find it’s best to be honest from the beginning so that people are aware what they’re getting into from the outset and it saves trouble later on.

It’s clear, concise communication before the shoot that will set the tone and execution on the big day. Here are several things I do to make sure we’re all on the same page.


Once I’ve confirmed the people that I am bringing together for a shoot, I like to create a group chat where I introduce everyone and connections are made before the event. Good ways to create group conversations are:

– Email
– Facebook messenger
– Whatsapp

It’s in this space where intentions and expectations are discussed and managed. If the shoot is a true collaborative one then everyone is encouraged to bring forward their ideas and after brainstorming a theme forms for the direction of the shoot. However, if for example the photographer has a clear idea from the outset and has brought people on board for the sole purpose of executing his/her vision then it’s within this space where everyone works together to realise it.


Although words can be powerful and evocative in conjuring up visuals, sometimes people need something tangible to really “see” the what the artist wants to say. A brilliant way to translate ideas is to put together a moodboard. I first came across mood-boards in school when putting together ideas in my design and technology class and since then learned that they are used all across the creative and design industry from interiors to fashion.

If I’m pulling people in to join me on my team to execute an idea then I’ll put together my own moodboard using Photoshop. In it, I’ll share images that reflect the atmospheric mood that I’d like to recreate, images of the hair and makeup ideas I feel might work, the colour toning palette that I’d like, the direction of the styling and anything else that I feel translates more easily visually than I could explain verbally.

Another great way to put together a collection of images quickly is to create a board on Pinterest. I love doing this too as it allows for the option of inviting the rest of the team on board and this way the contributed visuals are all in one place. Pinterest also allows for the option of making the board ‘secret’, that way only the people linked in can view it.


Once all the details of the shoot have been cemented, it’s then when I would put together a call sheet which would be sent out to everyone involved including the model’s agency. The call sheet would consist of the following:

– Date of shoot
– Shoot location(s)
– Arrival times
– Shoot concept notes
– Photographer / Assistant – Contact Details
– Team members – names and contact details
– Model/s name and agency details
– Schedule for the day


So now it’s the big day! If I communicated well then everyone will turn up on time, to the right place, brought all the things we talked about, be on the same page about the work we want to execute that day and hopefully any concerns are already addressed before the day. We should be good to set up and go!

As the photographer I find it helps to be as open and positive during a shoot. The mood of the day ultimately hinges on you and when things go wrong (as they often do!) having a positive attitude inspires those around you to pull themselves together and focus on task at hand. If I feel something doesn’t work I mention my concerns directly to the person who can help me fix it. Be respectful and constructive when giving feedback on someone’s craft.

Clear communication can turn an average shoot into a fun, extraordinary one.


Once the shoot is over I find it’s polite to thank everyone for all their hard work in the group email. And later, once the images have gone public to reach out to the creatives involved and supply them with the photos at the sizes they will need for their portfolios.

I hope you all found this useful! If you guys have any further tips for how to encourage clear and concise communication for a shoot or event feel free to comment below!

Photographer and Retoucher


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