Most people think of a photoshoot as a photographer and a model showing up and taking photos, right? Well, that could happen. However, for the best outcome, planning is a huge part of a shoot. Shoot preparation is something many don’t think of and that can not only make for an unorganized shoot, but also may leave you with regret when editing photos, realizing you didn’t get what you needed.
The first step in prepping for a shoot is, of course, choosing the talent. Finding a model or models that fit the look you are going for is important. Is it a commercial shoot for a company? If so, then there will be another level of involvement and final decisions will be made by that client based on the look they are trying to achieve. If it is a personal project, then determining what is needed in a model is necessary, maybe it is hair color, height, size, or some other requirement. Casting can be done through an agency, or through social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, or Modelmayhem. If there is a client hiring you to shoot them, then casting a model obviously isn’t an issue. However, the model is not the only talent needed for a shoot. A makeup artist and hair stylist are necessary as well. The finished look will be positively affected when a makeup artist is on board. Not only will those in front of the camera feel better, but editing time will greatly be reduced.
Fostering good working relationships with a few great hair and makeup artists will aid in being able to always have someone on board for shoots. Agencies are an option to find hair and makeup artists as well. Building relationships with salons is also a possibility, especially for bigger events where a team of stylists will be needed. Social media is a great way to find amazing talent. There are plenty of casting call groups that can be found, and many freelancers will jump at the chance to get good photos of their work.
A stylist also may be necessary to help with bringing wardrobe or putting together outfits and accessorizing if a company is providing the wardrobe. Most independent shoots don’t require a stylist, since the photographer and model can usually put together full looks and achieve a finished look. An important key to this, however, is a mood board. A mood board is a collection of images to project a specific concept. The idea is not only to plan out the outfits, hair and makeup, and accessories, but also the lighting and style to shoot in. Will the shoot be indoor or outdoor? Is it a boudoir shoot or a fashion editorial? Will it be heavily stylized or will it be more of a natural look?
Another step is making sure your location is set up. Don’t just play it by ear, this can lead to huge disasters. Booking the studio or location weeks in advance and confirming several days before, or assuring there is permission or a permit in place for outdoor locations that are require is vital. To help ensure there is no time wasted the day of the shoot, it is good idea to visit the location the day before.
Finally, the day of, get to the location early. Assure there are extra memory cards, camera batteries are charged, and all lenses are present that are necessary. Set up lighting and sets in advance. Make sure it is comfortable for everyone. Assure there is a place for the hair and makeup artist(s) to set up and do their job. Check that there is a private/secluded place to change for the model. Having fresh bottled water and some light snacks on hand is a great touch and allows everyone to feel their best throughout the shoot, especially if it is a long day on set.
Planning everything out in advance allows for fewer variables to go wrong. When you give yourself extra time it is easier to pre-plan, organize, and catch mistakes that could potentially negatively affect your shoot. There is definitely a learning curve to coordinating shoots but, like anything, the more times it is done, it will become routine.