Investing significantly in your commercial? Maximize your investment by incorporating a comprehensive set of promotional images. Production stills are essential for a powerful marketing strategy, providing you with a rich collection of still images that complement and enhance your video production.

Though they often work behind the scenes, professional production stills photographers are crucial to the long-term success of any video production. If you’re unfamiliar with production stills, don’t worry. This guide will explain what they are, how they’re used, why they’re important, and how to create outstanding stills.

What Are Production Stills?

Production stills are photographs taken on the set of a commercial video production. These images are captured by specialized unit stills photographers who adeptly navigate the bustling environment of an active set. Their primary focus is to frame and capture still images of the action, as well as behind-the-scenes moments involving actors, crew, and staff. The goal is to document the entire production process through high-quality still images.

From major production companies to independent producers and small businesses, production stills play a vital role in various projects. Regardless of the budget, any production can benefit from hiring a professional on-set stills photographer.

Uses for Production Stills

Have you ever seen a commercial and later noticed a still image from that commercial used in an advertisement? That’s the power of production stills in action. These images serve multiple purposes depending on the project and budget, including:

  • Website photos
  • Print and digital ad campaigns
  • Social media marketing
  • Other promotional materials

Why Productions Need Stills

Production stills are just as important for commercial promotion as video footage. Quality still images offer a level of detail and professionalism that screengrabs from video often lack. Despite advancements in video camera technology, a stills photographer brings more than just a good lens to the table—they offer a trained eye for framing and capturing impactful images. These images can significantly boost the effectiveness and profitability of your commercial.

Creating Production Stills

If you’re an independent producer or a small business on a tight budget, you might consider producing your own production stills. However, hiring a professional on-set stills photographer is highly recommended for best results. Here are some tips for capturing quality production stills, whether you hire a professional or do it yourself:

  • Create a shot list to meet all marketing and promotional needs
  • Capture the essence of a scene or production in a single image
  • Avoid capturing unwanted elements like boom mics or audio devices in your shots
  • Stay out of the crew’s way and maintain a low profile on set

Should You Hire a Professional?

Can you hand your iPhone to an intern and expect top-notch production stills? Probably not. Taking shortcuts in your marketing and promotional efforts can be detrimental. For iconic stills that make a lasting impression and enhance your profits, hiring an experienced production stills photographer is essential.

Production stills serve two main purposes: publicity and continuity. Publicity shots taken on set help promote the film by providing high-quality images for marketing and advertising. These shots are vital for creating buzz and drawing attention to the production. On the other hand, continuity shots ensure that everything looks consistent from scene to scene. These photographs capture costumes, props, and set details between takes, allowing filmmakers to maintain visual coherence when filming resumes.

A unit still photographer plays a crucial role in capturing these images. Their work supports both the marketing efforts and the production’s visual continuity. By documenting on-stage scenes and behind-the-scenes moments, they create a valuable archive for both promotional use and practical purposes, such as recreating scenes for reshoots. Overall, production stills are essential for both the commercial success and seamless visual storytelling of a film.

At YLO Productions, we have years of experience working on set with various production companies. If you’re in Cape Town or planning a shoot here, reach out to us to elevate your video production with stunning, professional production stills. Let’s take your project to the next level!