Tag Archives: planning a photoshoot

When You Have to Wing It

House of Jarvis jewelry Copyright Aloha Lavina. All rights reserved.

What do you do when you have to wing it during a shoot and you have little or no prior information?

Making it up as you go along is one of the most pressure-filled experiences you will have as a photographer. But remember, travel photogs and photojournos do it, so if they can, so can you.

The key is to be open and prepared for all the possibilities. One key to being able to wing it on location is to have all your gear ready. If it’s a portrait photoshoot, you need to pack all the light equipment you think you might need, something which you learn from experience, and once you’re on location, you need to summon every ounce of your creative problem solving to make your images work.

Here are some tips for when you have to make it up as you go along.

Don’t pack light.

I mean, weight-wise. For a shoot I did for a magazine cover, I brought six lights, so I would have twice as many as I needed in case something happened and some units failed. In the middle of the shoot at the location, a half-finished boutique hotel, there was a tour of the premises for a group of about ten employees. As they walked through the room where we were shooting, one of them knocked down one of my lightstands and the strobe and receiver attached to it broke into pieces as they hit the floor. I didn’t have time to stop except to glare at the offending person; I quickly removed the broken equipment to look at later, and replaced them with backup items.

Bring all kinds of light shapers, just in case.

I also brought a lot of light shapers. Good thing, because I had to do a reasonably wide portrait including the environment. The walls were dark, especially the black granite with the hotel logo which absolutely had to be in the shot. I couldn’t use a softbox because it would create a large reflection on the black granite. Also, I wanted to use the mirror in the shot, and had to have lighting that included the clothing, face, and everything else in its range. To light the subject’s face and clothes and have some nice fall-off around her, I attached a honeycomb grid to one strobe and used the mirror to reflect some of that light to light the environment.

Vachini Kraikrish for Muse Hotel Copyright Aloha Lavina.

A honeycomb grid made this shot possible. Copyright Aloha Lavina. All rights reserved.

Create the look using the environment.

For another shoot, I had never been to the location. All I knew was, the client wanted the photos to look ‘mysterious.’ So while the model was going through makeup and hair styling, I walked around with a flash unit and lit it at various rooms in the location. Even the bathroom. The bathroom had a ledge with some candles on it, so I decided to light the candles to create separation between the subject and the wall. Then I used one light to light the model and the jewelry for which this image was a branding shot.

House of Jarvis jewelry Copyright Aloha Lavina. All rights reserved.

Scouting the location on the spot with a flash unit helped with this one. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

Bring a range of focal lengths.

I’ve preached about the advantages of using just one lens, but at times when you have to wing a shoot, you don’t want to be caught without a focal length that will give you the images you need. Bringing a range of different focal lengths makes sure you have the right lens for the shot you want.

One of the questions I always ask before a shoot is, what type of shots does the client need? Usually you will be asked to do a variety of shots, for example, some wide full body shots with environment included, half-body shots, and closeup shots. This range means you might be using from 24mm to 85mm. When I am shooting for a jewelry company, I always ask if they want product closeups as well. If they do, I remember to pack my 105mm macro and 60mm macro lenses along with the 24mm-85mm range.

Aysha with necklace copyright Aloha Lavina.

Bring a range of focal lengths when you don't know the types of shots you'll be making. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

Bring useful accessories that have nothing to do with lighting or lenses.

I always bring safety pins, hairpins, double clips of varying sizes, and clamps, and bungee balls with me. Safety pins are useful for clamping down dresses that are too big. Hairpins take care of hair that’s stubbornly distracting in a shot. Double clips are good for holding up reflectors if you don’t have an assistant. And the most useful accessory for me is the bungee ball. It’s elastic and attaches around objects, so I can place flash units onto poles, branches and other objects when it’s awkward or impossible to use a lightstand.

Winging it might not be advisable for a portrait photographer, but if you absolutely have to make it up as you go along, it is not impossible. With thorough preparation, you too can create on the spot.

 

_________________
Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That!

If you like what’s on the blog, let us know by commenting! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage. It would also be cool to be friends with you on Facebook, or connect with you on Twitter.

You might also like:
From Idea to Image Part I: Planning
From Idea to Image Part 2: Lighting Clothing

How Different Lenses Help You See Creatively
Finding Good Photos Where They Hide

From Idea to Image Part I: Planning

zebra girl copyright Aloha Lavina.

Creating an image means a lot of decisions made before the shutter clicks.

Side by side, two photographers looking at a scene, unless they are trying to make the same image, will create two different images. The differences in their images depend on a host of reasons. These reasons include their intentions, their skill level, and the decisions they made according to these elements. Some people call it vision.

When you make an image, the result is a combination of your decisions.

To make the best possible image you can, it’s important to be aware of how your particular idea becomes the image you end up making. How do your decisions result in good work?

Start by thinking backwards.

Backward design is something that grew out of education. When teachers design lessons, they often start at the end. When they begin at the end, teachers know that they can break down the result into what they have to do to get there. They are in effect making a map of how to get to the end result they want.shadow play copyright Aloha Lavina

Analyzing the resulting image you want, breaking down what you have to do to get there, and then following a path to success is a process that affects your images. It can make the difference between an impactful image and one that may be technically perfect, but does not express much.

Note down the techniques you need to use to make the image.

Do you need to use particular camera settings to get to the end in mind? Which techniques will produce those results? Why should you use one technique over another? Are some questions you can ask yourself at the planning stage of your project.

Let’s say you want to show the theme of time. Organizing the theme of time into concrete images involves a bit of technique. Will you slow time down for us to see it in the blur using panning? Will you speed up time using a high shutter speed? Can you show passing of time without having to resort to a series of images, but use conceptual interpretation instead? How much will you show in the frame? What elements will impact your design?zebra girl copyright Aloha Lavina.

Starting with strong questions in your planning can help you get to the result with greater efficacy, and your resulting images will show this skill.

Gather the equipment you need to get to your result.

Once you know the techniques you need, you can gather the actual tools you can use to accomplish the technical part of your shoot. Choosing the lens is the most important because the lens dictates how much you include or what you exclude to compose your imagery.

A variety of accessories exist that help you to achieve a ‘look’ in your images. For instance, you might need a polarizing filter, or a set of ND filters. You might need lighting help from reflectors or flash units. Or, you might need a tripod to make those slow shutter images. Whatever you need to get the results you want, planning the stuff you need to make those shots ensures that you give yourself the best chances for success.water copyright Aloha Lavina.

Rehearse the skills you need to get the result you want.

There’s a reason why teachers give homework. Homework is not to make students suffer, but to rehearse skills needed for a big assessment or test. If we extend the metaphor to our craft, we recognize that the decisive moment of making a shot involves a test of some kind—the readiness to get the shot you wanted through preparation.

That preparation includes practice. If you’re scheduled for a portraiture session, for example, go out and shoot portraits. Change up the situation during the practice session to give you rehearsal in how to solve problems—lighting problems, composition problems, posing problems—these skills rehearsed give you the opportunity to make sure your actual test, the actual shoot you have to perform and get those amazing results, is something you will pass with flying colors.

Evaluate your results, and realize new things you learned that got you there.

Finally, take some time to evaluate how you did. A great way to improve your photography is to look at past images and ask yourself if there is anything you could have done to make them better.

Writing teachers always say, “Don’t fall in love with the first draft.” This is to tell students that there are always things we can do to improve our work. If you follow this advice in your shot making, you might just stumble upon an improvement cycle that will continue your learning and result in images that just keep getting better and better.

_________________
Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That!

If you like what’s on the blog, let us know by commenting! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage. It would also be cool to be friends with you on Facebook, or connect with you on Twitter.

You might also like:
Confessions of a Photoshop User
Are You Paying Attention?
Finding Good Photos where they Hide
Why You Should Shoot Like Johnny Depp
Sell an Experience, Not Just Photos

Up next: From Idea to Image Part II: Lighting
Join me as we walk through the process of conceptualization and lighting set up for a portrait!

 

 

 

 

 

How to Make the Most of Your Photographer

Different face structures require different lighting setups. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

Some of photoshoots require more time invested, yet they remain the most memorable and successful.

Investing time, thought and effort into a project pays dividends for the client. You not only get your money’s worth from all the people you’ve hired, but you also build strong relationships that can only enhance your brand. Giving time, thought and energy into a collaborative effort can create win-win situations that serve as fertile ground for growth, be it for the client or the creative team.

Here are some tips from a photographer’s point of view.

1. Communicate ideas as much as possible.

 

Communication is key to collaborative creativity. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

Time spent in planning a photoshoot is time wisely invested. For a photographer, information about the concepts the client has in mind, the colors and shapes and textures of the products she is shooting will help in the creative decisions. For example, light reflecting off a smooth surface behaves differently from light reflecting off a rough surface. If your photographer knows what materials you used to make your product, he or she can decide what sort of lighting suits that product. Similarly, a concept cannot be translated into an image unless the photographer has all the information necessary to ‘form a picture’ of what the client has in mind. Guessing or leaving this thinking process to the last minute can greatly impair the photoshoot’s effectiveness from lack of time to think through the concept and the added pressure of  reconciling a lot of novel elements in the process.

2. Give the photographer a lot of chances to make good decisions.

A lot of considerations go into a photo session. One of the most important ones is lighting, especially when there are models involved in the shoot. Different facial structures require different lighting set ups to either hide or show certain features. Introducing your photographer to your models before the shoot can help the photographer to think of the lighting decisions for each model’s facial structure and build. Allowing for this to happen by investing time in a meeting between the models and photographer can benefit your brand because the photographer is given more chances to succeed in making images that are interesting and propel the ideas behind your brand.

Different face structures require different lighting setups. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

3. Organize the materials for the shoot.

Photographers pack with great care. A lot of photogs clean their equipment, follow long packing lists, and prepare a lot of small items that can make a difference between a good shot and a great shot. A good photog knows that preparation saves a lot of time; knowing where to reach in the bag when needing something is efficient and good practice.

In the same way, organizing the clothing or accessories can help a photoshoot move along smoothly. For example, organizing the clothes into sets and labeling them clearly with models’ names in the order of the shoot can really speed up the work. Because some shoots require a lot of moving and changing of lighting equipment, being ready with the clothing and accessories gives the creative people in your team more time to take so they can create their magic for you.

4. Trust the creativity of your team

You hired the makeup artist whom you thought would interpret the concept well and has great skills to execute it in makeup or hair. You hired the photographer whose vision and images match your brand’s beauty.

You must trust their creativity, skill and vision, right? You hired them, not someone else.

In a moment of creativity, the creative person is drawn into flow, a state of seemingly effortless innovation. Trusting this process, for many, have produced great leaps in executing a vision. Interrupting it will stilt the creativity and ‘burst the bubble’ of concentration, and it is a difficult thing to re-enter at will. If you had planning sessions and every one in the team is conscious of the time you have to make the magic happen, trust that what the creators do, in their own separate domains of skill, are geared toward making beauty for your brand.

5. Respect talent and skill.

If everyone could do what any one else could do, all images would look the same. We would not have any moments when we look at a photo and our breath catches because it is just so what we wanted to say.

Respect a unique vision and the passion that creates it. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

The creative world is wonderful because each photographer, each makeup artist, pushes him or her self to do better, to learn something else. If you took this energy and passion and channeled it into your brand, you would have power indeed—power to distinguish your product from the others of the same kind, and power to make people look at your ad twice, catching their breath.

_________________
Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage.

You might also like:
Develop a Creative Vision
Change the Way You See
Be a Photographer, Not a Lens Changer