Photo shoot Preparations
So you've booked a photo shoot and are now wondering how to be prepared for the day. First off it's totally normal to feel a bit lost, it's not like you schedule a shoot every day. Don't worry, you're not expected to know what to do, what to bring or what to prepare for...at first. However, it is absolutely expected from me as a professional photographer I will help you ready yourself for the day so everything goes smoothly. With that being said, here's four things to put on a checklist before the meeting. Not every photo shoot is the same, but every one of them has requirements that give your money's worth! You can just read through the list of items, but I've included a description to accompany each one as well so you know the importance of it, as well as the "why" behind it. Let's get started!
1.Spare/change of clothes
I believe a change of clothing is essential on any photo shoot, whether on location or in studio. Nothing is worse than walking into your closet after getting your photos back and thinking, "These photos are great, but I wish I wore (fill in the blank.) It could've used some variety." As a photographer I want 100% happy customers. Not only is it beneficial for options and variety, it's practical. Sometimes things don't go according to plan, and completely change direction on a dime. That's a good thing too! It's never a good feeling when creativity or inspiration hits and it can't be acted on because a lack of materials. Especially something simple such as clothing. For example recently I went out for a standard shoot by the Truckee river just outside of Reno, NV and while on location, both the client and I decided it would be awesome to have her in the river. No sweat. Got back to the car when we were done and she found a bathroom, changed to dry clothes. It's a simple thing to bring and it can make the world of difference on how the shoot turns out. Keep in mind too that whatever you bring, it can risk damage, getting wet, dirty etc. Depending on the shoot, I will tell the client to grab some disposables. Wreck the dress shoots for example.
2.Hair/Makeup (guys, ironed shirts, ties tied)
This one seems obvious, but it comes up more than you would think. I recently had someone show up to a photo shoot saying "I'm sorry I didn't have time to put on makeup and fix my hair but I figured you could just Photoshop it." And in truth, yes by my occupational description I could "just Photoshop it." However if the time has been set aside, the budget planned, car packed and everything else is ready to go, why not take an extra 5-10min for a brush and quick touch of makeup? Now before any ladies jump ahead and respond with, "it takes much longer than 5minutes to apply makeup." I want to clarify I'm not talking about the works. I'm saying a few touch ups goes a long way in Photoshop,especially with hair control. My goal is to save hours of Photoshop painting on makeup and fixing stray hairs which in turn saves you from the cost of added hours it would take otherwise. Also Photoshop is a powerful tool for a photographer, but there are limitations. There is no guarantee that the end product will be consistent with your actual (real) face and have a feeling of authenticity. Models on magazines can get away with it simply because you never meet them. So as far as we know, what we see on the cover is the real them, no comparisons.
Not including the technical side of photography there are three primary aspects to a photo I consider when viewing an image. To keep things basic, the first is the subject, the second is the prop they have and lastly is the scenery. The reason why to me props come before scenery is simple. As soon as a subject picks up a prop, the prop is now part of the subject. Scenery can be found, replicated or removed altogether.
Props are a big deal to me in most photographs and often overlooked. They can accent someone, redirect the overall feel of the photo, or rally contemplative thought. I ideally (if possible) choose to have someone hold a prop to with the aim tocommunicate a message. If it's a concept shoot it's to drive a point home. If it's a portrait, it's to grab the viewers attention to another aspect of the subject that would be left out, had the prop not been there. For example, in the photo below is a man named Isaac reading a book by candle light. He is a graphic designer and an avid reader. Usually reading on average 100 books per year. He loves fiction and his favorite book is "The Hobbit."
This has a huge part to play in the photo shoot, be "in the game" so to speak. Our lives get busy and there is always something else going on or something that needs to be done. But remember, this time is already set aside. Imagine this. You just got off work; it wasn't the best day because maybe your boss was a little more touchy today, or something happened that didn't go to plan which puts you in a huff. Do you really want that expression or mood caught on camera? All my clients leave happy after a shoot but I may spend the first half getting them there, and that means we missed valuable time. Leave what happens before the shoot and after the shoot right where it's at, it'll be there when you return. Sometimes it's worth it to have five minutes to cool down, clear your mind and focus in beforehand. My job is to capture who you are and what you want to portray, but a little help from the subject goes a long way. If you're in the zone already when we start then you're miles ahead of most who undergo a photo session.