After the “Green Cherries” behind-the-scenes blog post I got a few questions asking me how I put the shoot together. I created this post specifically to give you an idea of how I go about doing it, coupled with my top tips and hints!
Let me take a second to break it down for you:
What is your vision for the photo shoot? What is the purpose? What is your concept? Your first step is to be visual about it.
Many times when people hear the word “concept” it freaks them out (it used to freak me out, too – don’t worry haha!). What they don’t realise is that a concept can be whatever you want it to be. It can be as complicated as a Snow White inspired bridal shoot or as simple as a colour-themed green & red shoot. Maybe your concept is not to have a concept at all! Maybe you just want to meet up and go with the flow.
Whatever it is – make sure that you know what your vision for the shoot is. Once you have your vision in mind it will be much easier for you to execute and make it happen!
An example of my visualisation drawing techniques here (they are quite funny haha).
To bring my vision from “rough-draft” to “polished” I usually sit down, close my eyes and visualise what it is that I want. I saw a beautiful girl with bright red hair against beautiful green tones. Simple.
How do you visualise your photos?
Don’t keep it in your head! Write it down on paper so that you can see clearly what you need to do!
Here was the list of what I needed:
1) A creative hair stylist.
2) A creative make up artist.
3) A beautiful, red-headed model.
4) A green location which could give me a variety of different looks.
5) Clothes & Jewellery.
Don’t settle for less. The key to making a shoot TRULY FANTASTIC is to put 110% effort into it. Go above and beyond. Find the right people, props, locations etc.
The only way to make it happen is to take action! Now that you know what you need, start putting together the puzzle pieces! Go on a search for the best creative team! Find the right props, clothes & jewellery! Don’t be afraid to reach out. Ask friends in the industry if they can recommend anyone and then send them a nice email asking them if they would be interested in working with you in exchange for some high resolution images of the shoot.
Just to give you an example, this is the exact email I sent to Natasha back in September of 2010!
Since that email we have worked on shoot after shoot after shoot after shoot after shoot after shoot after shoot after shoot together. It’s so nice to have had Natasha as part of my creative team because I know I can fully trust her. And it all started from finding her on Model Mayhem! Ha!
Of course the emails I send out to potential creative team members are much different today. Here is a checklist you should follow when contacting creatives for this kind of personal work:
- Tell them who you are and what you do.
- Tell them why you are emailing them, what you are looking for from them.
- Make the project sound exciting, let your passion come through!
- Tell them what they will get in return.
- Example: 15 high resolution images for use in their portfolio.
- Tell them something that you like about their work that makes you feel they would be suitable for this project.
- Note: Be yourself in the email!
- At the end of the message leave them links so that they can check out your work and see that you are legitimately who you say you are.
If you are struggling to find a creative team through the likes of google or word of mouth, try Model Mayhem. It is popularly known as being a bit of an unreliable place to find creatives, but I have found that as you long as you use it intelligently it can actually serve you quite well on a personal shoot.
Just remember to be very picky about who you choose. You can tell a lot about someone’s professional level by what is on their profile page. Choose to work with the best that you can! Remember that your photographs will only be as strong as the weakest link on your creative team.
Look for signs that these creatives are the real deal. Do they have a website? Do they have a consistent portfolio? Do they have references? Is there a number you can reach them at? If it looks fishy, it probably is.
Give your team a call as soon as they confirm they will be at the shoot, again the week before the shoot, and again the day before the shoot. It may seem over the top, but for some reason just the fact that you SPEAK to them makes them THAT much more committed to you and your shoot. It gives them a real sense that you are serious about the shoot, and they then know that they are expected to be there.
Once you have your creative team put together, make sure to communicate well with them! I always send out an email the week before to remind them of the upcoming shoot along with location, directions, phone numbers, things to remember etc.. When I assisted Steve Read I was inspired by how he sends out actual PDF briefs and I have since started doing so, too! I think it’s an awesome idea! Here is the one I sent out for Green Cherries:
The best way to get your vision across is VISUALLY! Words mean different things to different people, whereas images make what you’re thinking much clearer! Check out my Pinterest Page for examples!
Make sure everything is ready before the day of the shoot! Call everyone on the team to confirm that they are all still coming! Have all of your batteries charged, memory cards formatted, cleaned sensor, lenses etc..
Don’t forget a model release form, they are very important! Here is what I use: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/easy-release-model-release/id360835268?mt=8
With each personal shoot you do, you will learn something. For example, I always bring a chair with me whenever I shoot because I love getting above my models. I also love black bin bags for models to sit on, stand on etc.. so that the clothes and shoes don’t get dirty! Small things like this are important to remember, so be sure to start making a checklist so that each time you do a shoot you will not forget the little things! Being prepared is something you’re going to have to get used to if you’re a professional, so don’t be afraid to make checklists and USE them!
I hope this post helps at least a few of you out there with your next personal shoot and I hope that you all have a FABULOUS day!
GET SHOOTING, my friends!