Mini Sessions Galore!
Working with a nationwide startup
In the photography world there are a multitude of possibilities when it comes to the types of work you can do. While I personally prefer to focus on portraits, I also love to shoot sports from time to time. Having worked with a large amount of companies over the years as a contractor, be it for a one off event or annual conferences, I've seen my fair share of approaches to the contractor agreement. Some are favorable to the photographer, some are amicable for both and some are just downright insulting to the photographer and their talents (and usually looking to take advantage of newer photographer's lack of experience). Shoott is one of the companies that seems to have been able to figure out a structure that works for the client, the company and most importantly (in my opinion) the photographer.
Let me start with how I came to find Shoott. I stumbled across a Facebook ad in my timeline one day late last summer. A female-led startup based out of New York that was quickly expanding across the US into multiple larger cities showed they clearly had a plan to scale their platform and fast. They were offering free photoshoots with no commitment to buy (my interest was peaked) to their clients. I looked around their website and checked out their story, how they work and what you as a clients can expect. They had a simple to understand pricing structure and a straight forward approach to the traditional "mini session" format. I then stumbled on to their hiring page and saw they were here in Minneapolis, so I figured why not?
The application process was very thorough. What was immediately apparent is that they knew what they needed from photographers in order to be a good fit with their company. Their requirements for applying were very direct in nature and were clearly meant to weed out the more established photographers from a hobbyist with an entry level DSLR. I had to submit my basic info about myself, my gear and my portfolio to apply. The next step was a video interview with Shoott so they could ask some more direct questions which, again, were clearly meant to test your knowledge and skill as a photographer. After that it was discussing my portfolio and what they liked about my work and moving on to the next phase of the process, a test shoot with a fellow applicant.
The test shoot was a brief 20 minute session with another local photographer that had also applied. We were given a list of things to achieve in our time together both as the photographer and the model. This didn't feel like other companies where they just took your word or your portfolio at face value and assumed you could handle your stuff, they wanted proof positive you could work within their ecosystem and handle yourself as needed for their clients who they ultimately have to answer to should things go awry. The galleries were to be edited and delivered in a certain amount of time and would be subjected to feedback upon receipt. I was contacted by their lead photographer and operations manager for critique of my work and, ultimately, offered a position on their Minneapolis team. A group call was done with other photographers across the country to explain the platform, how it works on our end as a photographer and the basic expectations and such in working with them.
The platform itself, from a photographer's standpoint, couldn't be any more simple. I set my dates, and even times, I want to work. If I have nothing going on I just open up my entire weekend for the whole day, but if I have some downtime I want to fill I can open just a few hours here and there. If I really dislike a given location of the ones they have set up for people to choose from I can also just remove that from my preferences or make myself a "last resort" in case I may be tempted to pick one up should the need arise.
We get emails letting us know when they will be booking photographers for a given month and a deadline date to have our availability in by if we'd like to be considered. As we are scheduled, we get emails with the date and location we will be at for that day which is also populated in our photographer portal. How busy you are with Shoott is entirely dependent on how open you make yourself to the platform. At my slowest I've had as few as one singular session during the "down times", but at my busiest I had over 30 sessions on a three day weekend (talk about busy!).
The real beauty of Shoott, from a customer and photographer standpoint, is that you can book a session for pretty much anything but a wedding. I've shot everything from individuals looking to update their dating profiles or social media influencers to pregnancy announcements and families of six or more. The key is that Shoott doesn't MAKE you photograph anything you don't want to. For me, personally, I'm not huge on photographing infants so I just removed that from my preferences. This keeps photographers from feeling uncomfortable doing work they aren't familiar with and also prevents customers from getting subpar work due to inexperience or lack of confidence (which any seasoned photographer will tell you absolutely shines through in the final result).
When it comes to the sessions themselves, Shoott controls all the booking and simply hands us a schedule and contact info for that day. We just text or email them the day before to confirm the session, introduce ourselves and get any pertinent info that may not have been given already. Once a session concludes, we have 48 hours to cull/edit/upload the photos. The photographer also does a session review of each session they shoot, which could be helpful in resolving issues should they arise with a particularly difficult client. Should we be exceptionally busy (say 30 sessions in a weekend for instance), we can ask for extensions, which I personally have had good luck with the couple of times I've needed them. Once the galleries are uploaded Shoott handles the communication and hand-off to clients so they can view them and make their purchases. We can see what our clients purchase as well as view any feedback from them if they choose to leave it. We also have the ability to use any images we capture for our own purposes, provided a client does not mark their gallery as private.
One of my favorite things about working with Shoott is actually the strong sense of community they focus on. There are groups within each city they provide their services in as well as an all encompassing group for all photographers. This has proven to be great for meeting other creatives, sharing tips and tricks for adverse scenarios we all inevitably face and also sharing some of the incredible work we all capture. Another way they are trying to help all of us grow is their relatively new workshops in which they choose Shoott photographers to lead a video call on topics like the client experience, optimizing your workflow, working with kids and so on. While some of this can be repeat info or things some of us already know, there are always little tidbits you pick up along the way that can help improve your craft and maybe even save you a little bit of time.
In short, Shoott's goal of simplifying the photography process and making it easier for anyone to get great photos appears to be working well. Their approach on the client side is about as straightforward and laid out as it can be, but more importantly they actually are very clear and upfront with their photographic team and want all of us to grow and improve together. It's not hard to see why this has been as popular as it is here in the Minneapolis area and other major cities across the US as they continue to grow and I'm happy to be a part of this team as it grows and improves along the way.
Want to give Shoott a try? Feel free to click my link here and set up a session with me at one of their great locations!