A cocktail would be a great start… but bribes aside, the initial photographic brief should enable the photographer to provide an accurate estimate for the work, and help set the tone of the shoot. The brief should indicate the number of subjects, the length of the shoot, output requirements, usage requirements and style.
Number of subjects
How many people, looks, products or locations need to be photographed?
Length of shoot
Often your photographer can help here, once the number of subjects and style is determined, but other times it might be down to the availability of the subjects or the length of an event.
Output refers to the finished product. The most common output requested of a commercial photographer are high-resolution digital files, but other examples of output are photographic prints, web galleries and photo books. The amount of post production and retouching required on the final output is also an important factor in providing an accurate quote.
You should indicate to the photographer whether the photos are for a web site, advertisement, report, brochure or other marketing material. You should also indicate the intended period of use of the photos, and in what geographic regions they will be used.
Examples / inspiration / style
Photographers are typically very visual people, so when communicating your ideas for a shoot it’s often helpful to provide points of reference in a visual way. Examples are great, but you can also reference film, popular culture and other artforms when briefing. Cues such as emotions and character traits are also useful for setting the tone, eg. “confident but friendly”, “strong but sexy”.