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I’ve been producing photo and video shoots since high school and I’m about to turn 33 this year. If I had to sum up what is the most essential in my shoots, it would be timing.

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash


To be specific: learning how to control, organize, plan and anticipate time is what you need to be successful in every production (and in life if I’m going to make a hyperbolic statement).


Ask anyone who’s worked with me and they’ll say I’m pretty OCD on time. I hate being late (and I hate it more when people are late on my productions). If I have to be at someplace at a specific time, it has to be on my calendar. My default notification alerts ensures I ideally won’t be late: 1 hour, 30 minutes and 5minutes before each event.

The way that I look at it is: if a client is spending their money and time on me, I’m going to deliver the most efficient production as possible while providing the most value I can within that time window. This means every step from pre-production to post-production should ideally save time. Finding a time to chat through a scheduling app makes it easy to coordinate meetings, signing agreements digitally so there’s no need to print, sign, scan, and ensuring that everyone knows who, what, when, where, why, and how on production day(s) are covered in a call sheet that answers almost all questions which saves time on both ends of asking and answering.

Here’s some tips on how to control, organize, plan and anticipate time.

Meetings: I hate them unless there’s an agenda beforehand.

Meetings are for sure required for any production but for me, meetings shouldn’t happen unless it’s an absolute necessity to have a real time talk. (Building rapport is one thing meetings can accomplish but I’m just solely focusing on information being understood). I personally hate them because they’re run inefficiently most of the time by just simply not having an agenda — what are we talking about and more importantly, what are we doing after the meeting.

When I’ve asked for a meeting, I’ve made sure that everyone has ample time to know what we’re talking about by having a working document (I prefer Salesforce’s Quip) that holds the agenda for the meeting. I’ve summarized already the talking points on each item worth discussing but every person is invited to see and contribute to it too. So once the meeting starts, it’s really just to go over it and allow some time for any questions and clarifications but this cuts meeting times significantly.

Now that video meetings have become a regular thing now: hop on your video conference call 5 minutes prior your meeting time to ensure you’re ready with your camera, audio and of course that you look good on-screen. Hence my 5 minute notification alert on my calendar.

No matter what, stick to the agenda to ensure it ends on time. If you’re calling for this meeting, you have control on how short and succinct this meeting can be.


Call sheets: clearly answer when and where first then who and what next.

Let’s get it out of the way: no more PDF attachments please for call sheets. When something changes, I don’t want to go to my email to find a thread to find the latest version of the PDF to only have to pinch and zoom to look at the pertinent data since PDFs are not mobile friendly — they’re printer friendly.

I mentioned earlier but I use Quip for my clients. The way I’ve explained it is if Google Docs and Slack had a baby, Quip would be it. It’s a “living document” in which every document has a static URL so no matter what changes happens to it, the URL stays the same but will contain the updated information. More importantly, invitees can comment on anything on the document itself or on the sidebar to clarify. Having this ability has avoided unnecessary emails/meetings as we get to address most things by having a continuous conversation anytime through these living documents.

With any call sheet, ensure to answer the following in order:

  • Title of production
  • Date and 1st location on top with the first call time*
  • Provide weather, parking, WiFi, door access codes — anything pertinent about the day and how to ensure people can arrive without any trouble
  • The nearest hospital just in case
  • Cast and crew members with their roles, emails and numbers — chances are not everyone will know anyone but in a whim, anyone can contact a specific person if needed
  • Time slots that describe briefly the scene (if you have a shot list you can refer to that) and who is needed in each time slot
  • If call times are different for people i.e. crew arrives first for setup and hair/makeup + 1st talent can arrive 30 minutes later, do make that known. No one likes showing up too early when not necessary

Here’s the top of my call sheet for my 8:45a production with Chinatown Market featuring Allbirds’ CEO Tim Brown. Note the following information in order with the anchor links in blue that jump to that section. This document is online with a URL link so any changes that happen will be reflected automatically. No need to resend the call sheet or ensure that cast/crew has the latest version.


Call sheets are the best way to plan and organize the time for the day.

BE ON TIME: Never, ever be late

I mean, it has happened once to me earlier this year but I’m going to blame it on 1) I just flew back from the east coast just the day before so there’s jet lag and 2) the call sheet included the production office’s address on top of the page and not just the actual shoot’s location. (It’s still my fault but it’s a good excuse due to bad design. Hence, the preferred order on call sheets is to only have the shoot’s location on top of the call sheet.) For that shoot, I was 15 minutes late — not bad but still not excusable.


Tips on never being late

I made a video awhile ago on my 8:45a YouTube channel on how to use Waze to ensure you’re never late to your shoot again.


  • Use Waze to predict what time you need to leave by to arrive at your location — leave 30 minutes before what it tells you to for parking and if you have a lot of equipment to unload, add 30 minutes more
  • Finally, no matter what, add 10 minutes again to the time you should leave by — this will account for when you forget your keys and have to get it, need to fill up gas if you just realized it’s nearly empty or to pick up your Philz pick-up order (tip within a tip: if you’re gonna get coffee, never plan to wait in line — order in advance when you can)
  • When you do arrive on time with minutes to spare, take a deep breath and run through your mind how you want the day to unfold.

This is how you’ll anticipate time to never be late.

Hopefully something in this article has helped you improved your control, organization, planning, and anticipation of time.

What Every Creative Needs: Good Timing

06 January 2023

© 2023 JJ Jumoc-Casas
+1 (650) 255-0218

JCasas Photography | The Blog

JJ Casas

San Francisco-based portrait & commercial photographer & 
creative director. 

Sharing my thoughts as a photographer, cinematographer, marketer, and copywriter.