FOR A PHOTOGRAPHER, A PHOTO SHOOT IS SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST A DAY OF PHOTOGRAPHY - BY EVA SCHWANK
But it is just one day ... isn’t it?
What happens before a shoot and what happens after? What do you need to plan and what do you need to be aware of?
Let’s dismantle the believes that it’s just a single day of photography and let me tell you a bit about what happens before the shoot day and what you need to take care of after. Of course, it depends on how big the shoot is. Is there an advertising agency involved, a client, both or is it just for your own portfolio? The bigger it gets the more people will be involved and you will have different prep meetings prior to the photo shoot. If there is an advertising/creative agency involved they will most of the time come up with the concept and a detailed brief. But let's not make it too complicated, lets say you want to plan an editorial. Fantastic you got this amazing idea in the back of your mind of what you want to create - then let's get going.
STEP BY STEP: PUTTING TOGETHER YOUR OWN PHOTO SHOOT
1. The first step is creating a mood board and visuals. They, of course, don’t need to be an exact replica of how the images should look like in the end, they are more meant for inspiration. Get your own take on it, be creative, and make it look as appealing as you want to pursue people to work with you on this project.
I use sites like Pinterest, Fashion Gone Rogue, Look books or photographic agencies to find moods fitting my idea. It is also a good idea to create an extra fashion and make-up/hair mood board to have a starting point. Of course, you always want to include the teams own visions. This will create the most amazing results, but you also want to make sure that the whole team is on the same page. For example, if it’s a knitwear story, you don’t wan’t the stylist to bring just t-shirts. Mood boards are also a great way to make sure that the make-up artist brings the colours you envisioned. Things might evolve to something completely different on the day, but you have to start somewhere.
2. Get your team sorted. Send the mood board to make-up artists, hairstylists and stylist and get your team going.
3. Get a date, trust me this can sometimes be quite tricky, especially if it’s an editorial shoot where everyone works for free. The team, or even you might get a well paid advertising job in and you might need to move the team around or change the date. So be prepared to be flexible.
4. Find a studio or a location for the shoot. Make sure it suits the brief. Make an option on the location and confirm closer to the shoot day when everything is in place. Do you want to shoot outside or on location? It’s important to do a reccie of the place(s) prior to the shoot date. If you are outside and don’t have a base, like a production van, then have a think about where the model can get changed and how you can make this work. Especially if you shoot outside it is handy to create a shot list and a location list to get a clear overview of where you want to shoot what. Also, have a backup plan if you shoot outside - you never know what the weather will be like, or be prepared to move the date.
5. Cast a model - send out emails including the mood board and team to the model agencies.
6. Especially if they don’t know you it is a plus if you send a link to your website or some work with the mood board as well and it will be a benefit if you have already got a good team in place.
7. You got packages from the model agencies - fantastic. Now comes the real deal. Look through the model portfolios, ideally look at their Instagram profile and again at your mood board. Maybe double check with the stylist who is his or her preference. Make options on the girls or boys you like, and make sure to get recent polaroids of them.
8. You got a team, a model, a studio/location - fantastic you are nearly done with the preparation.
9. Get your lighting sorted, either the studio already has lights, you just use daylight, or you need to hire lights - all needs to be closely looked at and thought through. What kind of light do you want to create? Do you need a backup plan?
10. Do you need an assistant? Lighting, Digi or just a helping hand?
11. Fantastic - all is confirmed. Get a call sheet ready for the team one or two days before the shoot, including everyone involved in the team, the call time, the location address, if necessary other timings and maybe a little note of closest tube stations. Make sure the whole team, including the model agency, confirms that they received the call sheet.
12. Your shoot is tomorrow? How exciting! Get your kit ready, make sure your batteries are charged, get everything packed the night before so you can start your day calm in the morning.
13. Also, plan what is for breakfast and lunch. You want to keep your team happy and don’t just serve 1 pack of crips and a sandwich. Low energy levels won’t do you any favours.
14. If you shoot outside, make sure the model is warm enough and pack a hot water bottle or an extra coat, speak to the stylist and if possible - please don’t shoot summer wear when it’s 2 degrees outside.
15. Shoot day. Leave with enough time so you don’t arrive already super stressed because you had to run to be there on time.
16. Enjoy the day and be creative with your team.
17. All is done - so what now? Your joy will be for the next day or couple of days, depending on how fast you can pick your final shots. Once you’ve narrowed it down to your favourite shots, the next step will be to do an edit of your lovely shoot. Trust me this can be hard sometimes. I find it helpful to select my 2 or 3 finals per shot and go back to the stylist, or another team member you maybe planned the shoot with, and get their opinion. Or even ask your boyfriend, friend or anyone who maybe isn’t in the industry. It is always good to get 2nd opinions.
18. Once your final images are picked it is retouching time. Either you get them over to a retoucher or you do it yourself. Either way make sure you don’t over-retouch them. Completely natural and un-retouched is in my opinion always better than an over-retouched image.
19. Images are ready. You are happy with the colour, retouching etc - great now it’s on you to either find a magazine that wants to publish it, get them to your client or just get them out there.
This was just a simple run down. As mentioned if you shoot for a client the whole thing will be more complex. But I hope this gives you a little inside to what ‘just a day’ of photographing includes. I would say roughly 1 shoot day is 5 days worth of work, depending on how carefully it all needs to be planned.