From time to time, you’ll benefit from the opportunity to share photos of your employees and facilities with potential customers and professional peers. Whether it’s headshots of key executives, a group photo of a small business’s employees or pictures of your storefront, interior or various aspects of your operations, photos can enhance public relations efforts. Performing test shots in advance with your smartphone will help you plan the best photo shoots for your company.

Meet with your marketing or public relations manager or agency to discuss when you might use photos. Discuss uses, such as on your website and in brochures and sales materials to accompany press releases, as well as head-and-shoulder shots to accompany articles you write or bios you submit when doing public speaking.

Determine the quality of each photo you’ll need. Consider whether you can use photos taken from your smartphone, a disposable camera or maybe from one of your employees who is a shutterbug and has his own equipment. Create two photo lists: one list of pictures you feel you can adequately shoot yourself and one list of photos you want professionally shot to ensure proper framing, lighting, focus and development.

Pre-shoot your company photo shoot with your smartphone, disposable camera or personal camera to determine where you want to take pictures, what you want in the background, and how different poses and positions might look. Use these photos to guide a professional photographer during your initial meeting and to estimate your cost for the shoot.

Meet with a professional photographer or several to solicit bids. Have the photographers visit your shoot location to see your test pictures and to determine what they will need to bring to conduct the shoot, if you’ll need to change your lighting or if there are any other concerns they have. Ask the photographer about the need for any model releases your employees should sign to allow you to use their images in your promotions and advertising as long as you like. Tell the photographers you are seeking a work-made-for-hire contract, which gives you prints and/or digital images, any negatives and the copyrights to use the images any way you see fit in perpetuity without crediting the photographer.

Notify your employees of the upcoming photo shoot. Give them the date and the purpose of the shoot. Notify them they will need to sign a model release, if necessary, and give them the form. Provide instructions for what to wear, where to meet and how long the shoot will take so they can plan their workdays around the shoot. Tell any employees who have a conflict to notify you immediately. Let employees know if they will need to clean their work areas and alert them to backup shoot locations or dates in the event weather prohibits an outdoor shoot. Contact your building manager to alert him of any outdoor shoot to avoid a cleaning, landscaping or construction conflict that would prohibit or interfere with the shoot.

Arrive at the shoot location early on the day of the shoot to inspect it. Gather your employees and arrange them using the test shots you took. Let the photographer guide the shoot from there and ask to see how each shot came out to determine if it meets your needs, or if you want it shot again.