Know what their expectations are, make a plan, and re-set expectations as needed… before the shoot.
One morning, I was packing up gear for a kid shoot. When I started packing, I suddenly realized that I had no idea what kind of pictures they wanted. Should I take my DSLR and my strobes with light stands and umbrellas? My lightweight Fuji for running around after kids? Guess I should take it all, just in case. For some reason, when planning the shoot, it simply didn’t occur to me to ask how many kids there would be, what their ages were, or ask what kind of pictures they were hoping for. A lot of stupid things to forget.
Continue reading Know before you go
Confirm the shoot/event schedule IN DETAIL before the event.
If the “event” is just you shooting portraits, having a loose agenda of what’s going to happen is sometimes enough. When you’re at an event to document or do portraits, get a clear schedule of events before you step foot there! Especially if there’s somewhere you need to be afterwards.
Continue reading When on a schedule…
Be prepared. Measure twice, cut once. You know the drill.
It doesn’t matter what the gig is… you should always prep as much as possible. The last time this really paid off for me, I was having a family over for portraits of their kids. Their young, rambunctious kids. Who never sit still. They’re a lot of fun to play with, but I hadn’t tried to photograph them both at this age yet. Hours before they came over, I set the scene, set up the lights, tested everything, tried a few different angles, and was seriously ready. The pups, of course, were my test subjects, as you can see.
As soon as they came in, the boys were completely distracted by being in a new place. While they were taking in all the details, they were responsive enough that we fired off a bunch of pictures of each of them. As they got more accustomed to their new environment, they became much less pliable. Without my preparation, I couldn’t have gotten anything usable without a lot more effort.
For once, I learned from a success rather than a failure! Woo-hoo!
Good for eyes. Bad for photos.
Do they have a different pair? No? Just take them off.
Don’t wait until you’re editing pictures to say “Man, I wish I’d asked them to remove their glasses.” Better yet, ask before the shoot if anybody in the group uses transition lenses and have them bring a different pair. That way they don’t feel like ‘that guy/gal’ who’s wearing sunglasses when nobody else is. You can do some editing to make it less apparent, but it’s easier to address it up front.
Photography is all about the little things.
Shooting outdoors? Start with the shots you want most.
We live in Ohio. That means all kinds of weather. I’ve shot in rain, snow, and oppressive heat. One thing I’ve learned (the hard way) is that however good your intentions are when you’re preparing a shoot, you’ll likely not get all the shots you want. Start with the location and the pictures that you’re most excited about. That way, when your subject’s makeup is melting off of her face, you’re soaked to the bone, or he’s shivering uncontrollably, the shots you leave with when you throw in the towel are the better ones anyhow.
And it doesn’t hurt to have a super-collapsable umbrella in your gear bag. They don’t take up much space, and are indispensable in keeping your models, you, or someone else dry until the rain lets up. If there’s a small chance of it being cold out, keep a pair of gloves in your bag. So handy (pun intended—sorry).
Don’t go into autopilot until you explore their ideas.
In planning a shoot, a client said “I saw this great spot at the park…,” to which we said, “Oh, we know that park pretty well! Sounds great!”
What we should have done was to find out exactly where they meant. We thought we knew the location well enough and took them to what we thought were good locations. By the time we got to the client’s spot, we realized what a mistake we’d made—it was fantastic! By then, the kids were getting tired and we were almost out of light, so we scrambled to get what shots we could, like the shot above, which would have been so much better with a little more sun. Why hadn’t we started there? Because we assumed we knew better and imposed our photographic will. Not making that mistake again.