How to Impress Clients and Notice Details


Being a photographer is a unique job that requires you to control and organize a million little details in order to create the literal big picture. Small details such as propping, wardrobe, or fingernails can make or break your final work and shake your client's trust. Here at Shutterstock Custom HQ, we see hundreds of pieces of content every day that could easily cross the threshold from good to great when contributors pay attention to the little details. 

If you’re a Shutterstock Custom contributor, you should note that great images can translate into a higher contributor score with the potential to receive a higher volume of projects and larger assignment sizes.


Here are a few of the small details you should pay attention to when shooting commercial content.

Hands and Nails

Images with dirty nails or chipped nail polish are one of the most common issues, and require extensive post production time to fix. If hands will be prominent in the brief, such as holding product or interacting with food, ask your models to show up polish free, and with freshly cut nails. If polish is permissible, ensure it is a neutral colour, and nails are a natural shape. To really go the extra mile, bring polish remover and a nail file on set for any last minute touch ups. Brands want to see their products looking best, support them in this by ensuring clean hands, groomed nails, and no chipped polish!


Wrinkled clothing

There is nothing worse than seeing a great image come in with wrinkled clothing. It is distracting for viewers, and time-consuming to fix in post. If you are a frequent shooter, consider investing in a cheap, portable hand steamer. If you shoot less frequently, or cannot make the investment, always ask models to come to set with freshly ironed clothing.


Dirty/cracked or smudged screens

Many brands want to incorporate mobile devices or laptops into their requested content. Small time investments such as wiping down your screen for fingerprints or dirt are essential for making sure the viewers focus is on your image and not the dirty device.

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Messy backgrounds

Brands will often ask for “authentic” imagery- real people in real settings. It's important to remember authentic and lived in does not equal messy. Ensure counters are cleaned off, sinks are empty, and wires and garbage are removed from the area. Removal of clutter from the background will go a long way to creating visually pleasing imagery and boosting client satisfaction



Propping is one of the easiest ways to elevate your images, so it's important to ensure props are appropriate, and add to the images rather than detracting. Look for brief keywords to guide your propping choice- for example, rustic will indicate earthy tones and materials, whereas modern will indicate, starker colors and sleek materials. 

Another important factor in propping your images, is ensuring props make sense. Are they naturally placed? Do they tell a story in the greater context of the image? For example, if your shoot is centered around a picnic- you probably wouldn't have a centerpiece, but a few fall leaves, flowers, or nice linen napkins would be believable.


To ensure the success of all your shoots, don’t forget about the little details that make a big difference. The tips outlined above do not require big time or cost investments, but will help you deliver consistent images that wow your clients every time!

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- The Shutterstock Custom Contributor Community Team