We all have our own way of doing things, but there are some factors that seem to be universally agreed upon when carrying out a photo shoot. Below are a list of considerations that I take into account before and during shooting.
Plan, plan plan!
I can’t stress this first point enough. Although I’ve done shoots off the cuff and spontaneously without one, having a plan allows for a deeper consideration of the results that are expected of yourself and from everyone else on the team. A “call sheet” will serve as a notice of where everyone should be, at what time, and generally outline the concept for the day.
Compiling images, sketches and words that reflect the look you are going for gives you a visual springboard of ideas from which to work from. It also gives everyone involved an overview of what the shoot will look like once complete. I’m not one for copying ideas, but being inspired is vital. I sometimes use boards on Pinterest as a resource for such occasions and sometimes photo copy or scan images from books and magazines to incorporate into my mood boards.
Shopping for Props
Not always necessary, but this one element can add further style and personality to images. I regularly write a shopping list of things that will add meaning to the photographs and then seek to acquire them. Having props to play with can make the shoot more fun for models as well as more visually pleasing to the eye.
Keeping a list of equipment I will need on the day helps me to stay organised and prompts me not to forget anything. Some of the things I include on my list are as follows: – Camera (that goes without saying) – Fully charged batteries and spares – Memory Cards – Lights/ Flashgun + Stands + Softbox – Reflector – Lenses + Lens cleaner – Tripod – Backdrops
Arranging a location can present a variety of issues that can be avoided by planning carefully. When shooting outdoors, I always keep an eye on the weather forecast as well as ensure (sometimes) that I have permission to shoot there. When indoors it’s good practice to carry out safety checks beforehand such as checking ventilation, wiring, electricity, fire exits, potential hazards, etc. In addition to this, finding out whether or not the space is adequately equipped with everything I saves me from any possible mishaps. The location should compliment the overall style of the shoot, so at times I do some research beforehand and perhaps even visit the location prior to shooting so that I have a clear idea of what I can use, where I will set up, and what lighting I will need (if using natural light the windows will need to be situated in an appropriate place).
When working with designers, the collection they wish to photograph will have several implications for the overall theme. The season, company’s image and the marketing plan they wish to adhere to, will need to be drawn into the picture, and a good stylist can offer sound contributions to this area. Making sure that the colours of the garment compliment the surroundings or vice versa, is an element of composition that can either make or break a photo! Accessories can also add a taste of flavour and style.
I’ve had images that would have been brilliant if it weren’t for the model’s hair causing issues. At times I’ve even had to step in and adjust the hairstyle with a comb to get it looking presentable. I am a bit of a perfectionist in this respect because I know that runaway strands of hair will mean more editing in post production. A stunning haircut can also be the main point of focus, accentuate the model’s facial structure or work in unison with the other aspects of the photo.
I’m not a make up artist, so I often have to rely on the MUAs vision and advice with this factor. I have been consulted on occasions on what I think would look good though and so I keep a gallery of inspiration on my iPad to refer to. Again, the colours obviously come into play and should work together harmoniously with the background and props.
Establishing good communication with the model in advance as well as on the day can make all the difference between a shoot going well or failing to deliver great results. If a model is inexperienced they may need a great deal of prompting throughout. I find that having diagrams of poses is an easy way to suggest how they should do so. Demonstrating how I want them to position their body and making desired facial expressions is something that I’m required to do at times, but does also make the overall experience more fun! More experienced models will know how to pose and pout but it’s down to the photographer to direct what they want from the model. There is however nothing wrong with giving the model creative space to express their own uniqueness.
Lastly, it may be a long day, and people do get hungry as well as tired, so having healthy snacks and drinks or lunch can serve to keep everyone on the team energised and on point. I’m not a nutritionist but thinking about what foods are available is quite important, so I tend to provide a number of gastronomic options to cater for a variety of appetites.
I hope this list has quenched your photographic thirst for the day! If I have missed anything or you have anything to add please feel free to comment below.