Mock-Up or Shut Up
In this post we go through the creative and practical benefits we found when we started to mock-up our images in photoshop.
Before we started creating previsualisations, or mock-ups, for projects in photoshop, we would occasionally draw sketches of what the sets would look like - but our talent for drawing is questionable and these doodles were never much help to us. They lacked the detail that would make them useful working documents.
We started using photoshop to mock-up our photoshoots about a year ago. We did it first for our personal shoots, so that we could practice it, find out what works for us, see if it was worth the investment of time, and get comfortable with it. Then, around six months ago, we began implementing it into our client work.
Of course, we don't mock up for every project. Mock-ups can take anywhere from days to weeks so it completely depends on a client's budget and needs, and whether the shoot is complex enough to require it. For a photo of a bottle on white you probably don't need to previsualise (ho ho).
But for the most part previsualisations are invaluable and the benefits are enormous:
It Gives Us More Time
Adding previsualisation to our workflow crystallised the projects for us, and also for our clients. In fact, it generally made for a better working experience - it made client relationships better as it put their minds at ease and we could proceed knowing that we were on the same page, and they could be confident in the vision.
As well as designing mood boards and shot-lists, we now had a stage where we could put the two together and see the concepts as a whole. And although it does take time to create mock-ups, we've found that it ultimately saves time; when we're shooting, we know what we want and we're executing the idea that we've worked out ahead of time, rather than trying to figure it out on the fly. We're not wasting time in trial-and-error.
It Allows Me To Let Go and Problem-Solve Better
Working on the designs in photoshop allows us to make duplicates and play around as much as I want, knowing I can always return to an earlier idea. I can take a few days away from a project, let my subconscious do the heavy lifting, and come back to the project with fresh eyes and my ideas intact.
This keeps me in a creative, playful, open mindset.
It Helps with Consistency
Designing a consistent set of images and maintaining a singular look can be challenging. There are times when I have had a lot of ideas and I want to do all of them, which has left me with a very muddled vision.
Now that we mock-up, I can lay all my ideas on the table and move them around like a puzzle. At first I had thought that this might shut down half of my ideas, but in fact it did the opposite. I was able to implement more of my concepts by adjusting elements to fit within the themes. And seeing the whole collection side-by-side is a great way to make sure we're on track.
It Irons Out Any Problems Early On
I mention on our blog post Why Concept Creation Takes So Long that we take the time to identify any issues we might have in the pre-production stage. Mocking-up our images is a large part of how we do that. It allows us to break down any creative and practical issues in a visual way, which we might not have recognised before the idea has left our heads - which also helps relay any concerns to clients. And that means less chance for reshoots and major revision - a total lifesaver.
It Means Less Stress On Shoot Days
Knowing precisely what I want the image to look like beforehand takes away the stress of having to make any big creative decisions on the day of the shoot. We can focus on the technical aspects and work quickly, which can be especially beneficial when working with things like food. As an added bonus, when working with a larger team we have a document that everyone can refer to and quickly understand, which ensures that everyone is pulling in the same direction.
It Instils Confidence in Clients
Since implementing mock-ups, we've found that relationships with our clients have become stronger and more enjoyable. As clients are waiting two to maybe six weeks to receive their images, I can imagine they would be excited but also quite anxious to see them. After all, they're investing money and require a certain result. They want to feel that it was worth the cost.
Mock-ups are a great way to ensure that you and your clients are on the same page, and avoid disappointment. With previsualisation they can see what the images will look like early on, and they have the opportunity to provide feedback or change anything they're unhappy with before giving the final OK. We've seen a definite change in our clients since we've started showing mock-up, and we see a lot more excitement now.
In one instance, we had a great client who didn't want to exceed a certain budget for props. It wasn't unreasonable, but we knew that if we had some more wiggle room it would improve the images dramatically. When we delivered the mock-ups to the client they came back to us and instantly doubled the prop budget. The mock-ups sold the idea for us.
We made a short Instagram reel showing our mocks up compared to our final images for one of our client shoots - I'll pop the link here, if you're interested.
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