Working to a brief

This second chapter forms part of our Business course, where Karl, who has over 20 years of experience running his own successful photography business, shares his advice to help guide you on your path to success.

This class focuses on working to a commercial brief. Karl looks at some of the briefs and mood boards that he has received from clients for previous shoots and explains the concept behind each. He discusses the role of the photographer and why problem solving is an important skill to have. In addition, he also details why understanding the purpose and final display format is crucial to realising your client’s vision.

Class objectives:

  • Provide examples of commercial briefs and mood boards
  • Explain why understanding a brief is important
  • Demonstrate how projects can evolve and change
  • Explain the importance of understanding your clients vision
  • Discuss why creating the right mood in an image is important
Commercial photography brief example

An example of a commercial brief received from a client and the final image.

You might also find our blog post ‘Identifying & overcoming the challenges of a high-end product shoot‘ interesting. Here, Karl aims to replicate a Clinique style advertising shoot by working to a brief.

If you have any questions about this class, please post in the comment section below.

NOTE: This class is available with English subtitles.


  1. 12:44 – 12:53 had me laughing.

    Notwithstanding that, thank you for the practical details when working with a corporate client.

  2. Hi Karl! At 17:13 you talked about making a list of local business/ commerce and trade organizations for the purpose of knowing possible new clients with great procedures and technologies. Do you have any suggestions on how to approach and connect with them, supposing you were a new photographer so they can take you into account? Thank you very much in advance for your help and the great content! 🙂

  3. Hi Karl, on a commercial fashion assignment who has to arrange the model, make-up artist, stylist, etc. The client or the photographer?

    1. Hi, It’s usually the client / art director that decides as they know the target audience and what sort of look they are going to respond to. Often a lot of market research has gone into this stage and mood boards and briefs have been prepared. However there have been many projects that I’ve worked on for fashion or fashion accessories where I’ve been involved in with the art director at the early stage when we’re considering a short list of models. With the hair and make up the client is often happy to take my word for it based on previous experience or they may have worked with someone before that they know.

  4. Hello Karl,
    Would like to know if its possible to download the episodes, cause are times I do not have access to the internet…??

    1. Hi Richard, no i’m afraid not our service is streaming only with mobile/cellular or home/wifi/broadband.

  5. Hi karl, in the golf photoshoot, did you just give 1 image to the client? or you have several different images and angle for they to choose?

    1. Hi Ade, on a shoot like that with a model then the client will choose one shot from several shortlisted ones and then that is the shot that will be retouched. In product photography we are only aiming for one shot as the set up and positioning is so much more precise and slow to work.

  6. Just going through this now is making me feel so much better about the amount of ‘overshooting’ I have to do and tend to provide an over-supply of choices for my clients. That bit of extra confirmation just validated signing up for the program alone.

    I’m thinking I should produce a ‘client’s brief template’ to supply to my clients to help them. This would be a real value-add. Do you have such a thing?

    1. Hi Marc, no I don’t have a client brief template as most of my clients are experienced in producing briefs but that is a good idea to give to clients who are not used to giving proper briefs or mood boards.

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