Help with first photoshoot (kinda long)

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Interesting, Jan 21, 2009.

  1. Interesting

    Interesting TPF Noob!

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    Hello all,

    I have been shooting commercial photography (products: toys, strollers, furniture, etc.) as a hobbyist and used to do real estate type of commercial photography (office spaces, construction sites, cell phone tower prospects, etc).

    Coming up in a few days I have my first photoshoot with a live model. It kind of took me by surprise since the booking was way earlier than I had first expected. Who the hell shoots summer stuff in the middle of winter?! Apparently everyone :lol:.

    Needless to say I'm extremely nervous. My initial plan was to get a model and do a run through before I got booked to get familiar with the whole process, but again, they took me by surprise. To add to the panic, this is going to be a paid shoot where images will actually be put on a catalog (so I'm doubly nervous about screwing up), it's a location shoot, and to top it all off it's an undergament shoot (6 styles of bras in various colors and 12 styles of panties/thongs).

    So obviously my concerns are getting at least 2 good looks per style. Photoshop can take care of at least 3 of the styles and their color variations, but the more intricate designs are way too hard.

    Next, it's going to be outdoors. Please don't ask why. I begged to have it in a studio (which I would rent) but the client has something in mind that they have to have. So with the snow on the ground I'm very concerned about how everything will turn out. Some of it will be on a boat and some others on a dock.

    Finally, having a near naked model sitting outdoors (Boston area = freezing with knee high snow at the moment) while I'm chimping like an amateur. I've already spoken to her and she was very nice and voiced her own concerns about how she would perform in the cold conditions.

    They have booked me for 2 days on location in Cape Cod, and want me to sign on for another shoot for maternity undergarments.

    I am inclined to say no thanks but I was recommended to this new client by two others with whom I've done a lot of work for and continue to do so. If I do sign this new one it could be 6 very well paid shoots a year that I can count on. I'm not a full time photographer but with this dismal economy, any paying work is good work.

    This is the first time this client is doing any sort of advertising or having a web presence so they're not sure at all what to expect. And to quote one of my other clients who referred me "Don't worry if it doesn't come out perfect. You'll learn and so will they. Maybe their concept won't even work."

    Long story short, how would other pros out there advise a noob to proceed? Decline? Accept?

    If you were to accept, how do you approach a client about the concepts they want to capture? How many meetings do you have with a client like this prior to a shoot? Any pointers on shooting a subject on location with minimal equipment? What are the must haves for this type of shoot? Can you shoot a whole figure with a 35mm prime (Sony Alpha series dslr)? Don't have the budget for lighting so what to do? How many looks should I shoot for per item? How many shots do you typically burn through per look (40? 100?) Does shooting on a boat make the tripod useless? I'm scared...hold me :hug::

    Any help would be very very much appreciated.
     
  2. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    As someone that thought of themselves as a proficient intermediate and knowledgeable photographer before I went into my first portrait shoot... and then did one (in the safest place possible... a strobist meet), I can tell you that NOTHING except experience will prepare you or get you to the comfort level YOU NEED to do a portrait shoot.

    You see, for one small important fact, commercial photography (products: toys, strollers, furniture, etc.) as a hobbyist and used to do real estate type of commercial photography (office spaces, construction sites, cell phone tower prospects) are NOT living things that need to be guided, told what to do.

    Another thing is that the lighting for commercial photography (products: toys, strollers, furniture, etc.) as a hobbyist and used to do real estate type of commercial photography (office spaces, construction sites, cell phone tower prospects) is mostly natural and not very easily changed, but in a studio it is 100% ALL about the control.

    You have control over 100% of EVERYTHING... lighting, setting, distance, colours, the model... everything!

    If you haven't explored all these things in advance plus have no idea on how to guide a living breathing model into those situations that give optimum results, how to light that model to flatter her in the best ways, you are going to be one VERY lost puppy and your model is going sense this and at the end your results will not be anywhere as good as they should be. This is going to give you one very disappointed client.

    My friend, there is NOTHING more dangerous than going in blind... and that is 10 times worse if you are doing it as a professional (ie: getting paid for it), when really, you are telling me that you are NOTHING close to being ready.

    Just as a basic question... how good are you with studio photography? How firm is your understanding of lighting in a studio situation? How good are you at directing that model into the best possible situations that will get you "the shot"? Unless you tell me that your understanding of studio lighting and people skills it is as easy as taking a breath of air... not ready.

    Delay, put it off, and run out there and LEARN hard and fast. Rent a studio, get a couple friends in there, read Lighting 101 and 102 from the www.strobist.com website, get a book like "The Master's Guide to Portrait Photography" and read AND study AND practice using the contents, make sure you know how to work your equipment, work your off camera lighting and work your model ,and know what looks good and what doesn't BEFORE you do this.

    Just my 2 cents.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2009
  3. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    That's a lot to think about.

    On one hand, it sounds like you might be over your head a little bit...and should probably refer them to someone with related experience. One the other hand, everyone has to start somewhere and as you said...paid work is good work.

    Part of being a good photographer is being able to adapt to the situation at hand. If you are working outdoors then you need to be able to find good locations/angles that work with the light that you have. If you have your own lighting, that can really open up your possibilities but also slow things down.
    Some of the best outdoor lighting I've seen...can be created by throwing up a diffusion panel between the sun and the model. This will require at least one assistant and more is better.

    Lighting should be on your mind...but you will need to act confidently and quickly. It's all the other stuff that might make or break the shoot. Keeping the models warm and comfortable for example. There should be someone (maybe a team of people) standing by with full length robes/coats etc. If you have the right people, it could be the same people who are responsible for the hair, make up and wardrobe. You might also need a place for the models to change. Keep in mind that when they have skin showing, you will want to keep them out of tight clothing for a while before the shoot...to avoid impressions in the skin. This can all get very complicated as the temperature gets colder. It would probably be a good idea to have a lot of this planned out before hand...as much as possible anyway. Also, you might want to get all set up and completely ready, so that the model just has to run out, shoot, and then go back to a warm building or vehicle etc.

    You might be able to nail the shot you want right away...or it might take a while. It's common to get the best shots later in a session...as the model and even photographer start to loosen up and get comfortable...but in poor conditions, things might go the other way and get worse as time goes by. So the number of shots will really depend on how fast you can 'get the shot'. You might want to discuss posses before getting them into the cold...but sometimes you just need to see the model, to know what is going to work. This is where experienced models can be great...they should know how to pose and be able to get it done quickly and efficiently.

    There are a million things to consider and a lot of it will depend on your particular situation...so just be prepared and do your best.
     
  4. Interesting

    Interesting TPF Noob!

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    Yeah, I agree, which is why I mentioned I'm inclined to say no at the moment. By the way, the client is not the model. It's a regional office for an apparel company. But the money's so good! Yeah, I know, I'm a whore...:(
     
  5. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Mike had some awesome good points. I'll add that you will know that you are in the room with a professional by the fact that:

    - The client walks into the room, the photographer is ready to shoot. It may not be optimal, but it is not far and always leaves room to FLOW from scenario to scenario smoothly.

    - The photographer can develop a report with the model in a VERY short time. This comes with practice, confidence and experience. Alienate your model... game over.

    - There is NO sense of panic anywhere, there are no rushed or excited voices, no running around... just pure calm from start to end. Light humor is ok.

    - The professional doesn't waste time. One client, one apparel... in and out in 30 min... but only 5 minutes of that 30 minutes is spent taking pictures. The rest is setting up, testing and tearing down.
     
  6. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    To add to Jerry's latest post. You can act quickly...rush when needed and maybe even get a little 'frantic' (in a positive, excited way) but don't let that become panic. The wrong mood or feel can sour the model and ruin the shoot in a hurry. The photographer can control the entire shoot with the way they behave and handle themselves...so even if you don't feel as confident as you need to be...act like you do.
     
  7. Interesting

    Interesting TPF Noob!

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    Thanks guys, lots to think about. I am taking everything you are saying into careful consideration. A lot of the stuff you guys wrote seems like common sense and things I would write if I were on the other side of the coin. But sometimes you need someone to mention it to really sink in, so thanks for knocking some sense back into me.

    Any further discussion is welcome. I don't need to give them an answer until friday. They do have a back up photographer. I saw his port and quite frankly was not very impressed, but at least he has one with live people in it!
     
  8. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    This is your biggest problem, pro photoshoots cost a lot, what you see as good money could leave you out of pocket by the time you factor in equipment hire/time/PP/assistants etc etc, your not gonna cut it with a sony alpha n strobe, this plus the points J + M stated and a lot of others I could point out urges me to tell you to forget it. I think this firm think they will be getting a job done on the cheap but you havent the know how or equipment to pull it off, save face and drop it till you dont need to ask the sort of questions you have. H
     
  9. Interesting

    Interesting TPF Noob!

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    Well as I mentioned earlier I always rent equipment. Can't seem to save enough to actually buy the stuff. For the outdoor shoot I thought of just using what I had based on a indie docufilm on Herb Ritts (don't mock me, I KNOW I'm not Herb lol) but I don't think it's going to happen. If the crap economy hadn't wiped out 40% of my savings and retirement savings this would be the time to spring for new equipment and consider it an investment.

    The firm hired me based on 2 strong recommendations from other companies I have done extensive work for, not to do this on the cheap. This is my concern. If it was on the cheap I'd say sure and notch it up as a learning experience. They are flying a model, mua, assistant to Cape Cod, MA from NY renting a house to shoot in ($15k for the week according to the realtor when I went on a site walk; cheap because it's offseason lol). Hardly a small budget. Although my cut is admittedly small and deservingly so. If they had just contacted me out of the blue I would say no and move on, but they were very enthusiastic and my existing clients were very happy to get me the job.

    I just spoke to the model and she has agreed to a test shoot this Friday, which is when I have to have a response ready. It's when she's scheduled to be here anyway so I don't feel bad about the travel. She has a preference with being micromanaged, which actually suits me quite well since I have a small notebook filled with looks in detail.

    MUA and assitant are also ok with helping me out during the shoot. MUA is worried about goose bumps and the dry air. Assistant is worried about keeping everyone happy. MUA has done lots of shoots and has a great port. Model has been doing this for 4 years (since she was 16) and also has a nice port. Is it just the shoot from hell or are these types of jitters normal?

    If I wait until I don't have to ask these questions before I book the shoot I'm afraid I never will book a shoot like this. I don't have the bankroll to rent equipment, rent a studio, and hire a model for 2 days to experiment with. Any suggestions?

    I'm not trying to dismiss what you are saying. I actually agree with a lot of what you are saying. I just want to make sure I explore every avenue before letting this one pass by. Not everyday someone knocks on your door waves a check that covers the mortgage for the month and then some and asks you to shoot a few pages in their upcoming catalog. Well not in my world at least.
     
  10. gsgary

    gsgary Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Is it worth it for a month mortgage ? dosn't sound that lucrative. Why do you need to experiment in a studio i thought the shoot was outside
     
  11. Interesting

    Interesting TPF Noob!

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    Well, my mortgage is pretty considerable even after a huge down payment. For those who are familiar with Boston, I live in Beacon Hill and have a 4 bedroom 5.5 bath with an atrium and 4 parking spots. I used to be able to easily afford it with my existing job but now I can pay with little room for anything else. Salary cuts are better than layoffs I guess.

    Why didn't I buy equipment when I could've afforded it a year or two ago? I didn't want to spend money on something until I knew what to buy. I mean, you can get to $20k in a heartbeat which is not the type of purchase you want to take lightly. Why a Sony Alpha? Christmas gift from my assistant. That Zeiss glass is great too. Normally don't have to shoot high ISO or anything too hardcore so it works ok.

    I mentioned experimenting in a studio based on the other replies, which I agree with. To get a good command of the effects of lighting on a picture a studio is a must. After I gain the proficiency necessary to make it all second nature I can fool around with how to work on location.

    Some of the problems I'm having is how to position models to emphasize certain lines or in some cases de-emphasize them. I'm sure my assistant thinks I'm a perv now, surfing lingerie sites while at work :lol:.
     
  12. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    :lol:
    I forgot to mention it...but yes, looking at other work is a good idea. You may even want to bring some images with you to the shoot. There is no reason to invent new poses...they have all been done before...so if you (& the model) have a visual reference as to what you want her to do...then that just makes it easier.

    Of course, which poses look good or even work at all...will depend a lot on lighting but it may still help to have some poses for a starting point.
     

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