So you’ve gotten yourself a camera, you’ve taken pictures of friends while tailgating or just hanging out, and now you finally have a solid following on instagram highlighting your exemplary skills. All of a sudden your friends, or clients, start contacting you for their own photo shoot. You immediately say yes, and just as quickly it hits you that you have no idea what you’re actually doing.
Having your first photo shoot can be a terrifying experience if you are not prepared and one bad experience from a client can stop other potential clients from contacting you. Just a little bit of planning can save you from this nightmare. Here are 5 points to take into account when setting up your first shoot.
Do your research. CONGRATS! If you’re reading this you have already gotten a head start. The internet is a great resource full of ideas that you can use to your advantage. I’m not telling you to copy someone else’s work but instead; get inspired, see what works, and apply it to your shoot. Look at other shoots online and see what type of poses highlight what you need to show more. Look at what poses don’t work so you don’t make those mistakes.
If your shoot is supposed to be candid you can look up jokes that are sure to make your client laugh. Maybe you’ll find that a similar shoot has already been done and you can use their images to see what you could do better or what you could do differently to insure that your photographs are one of a kind.
Know your theme. One of the most important things you need to have in mind when planning your first, or any photoshoot, is the theme, or the overall idea. Do you want a relaxing background? Do you want the model to be in a western setting? What do YOU want for this shoot?
Sometimes the theme isn’t entirely up to you. Maybe the person that contacted you needs graduation pictures, or maybe they just want their shots to look more moody. There’s an unlimited amount of possibilities and it is up to you to find out what the theme will be and to then research it so that the shoot runs smoothly and accordingly.
Know your location. So you have the theme down. Great. WHERE are you going to make this theme, this idea, a reality? Once you have your theme, you need to find a location that goes along with it, and more importantly, you need to know the location inside and out. The first time the client shows up to the shooting spot can not be the first time you show up. You need to know what you are doing, what is around you, and how you can use that location to benefit your shoot and to help you choose what gear to take.
Take the right gear. This is a tricky one because there really is no such thing as the “right” gear. Some gear may be more useful in certain situations, but it doesn’t mean that other gear won’t work or help capture an astounding photo. Just make sure you know the theme and location and use those details to determine what you need to take.
Will there be low light? Is it in a small space? Will a prism add more to your idea? Etc, etc. If the shoot is in a low lit area it may be better to take a larger aperture lens or a tripod. If you will be forced to be extremely close to your model then maybe a 70mm lens will be too big, but a 24mm will be just right. As long as you know where you are shooting and how the conditions are it should not be difficult to take the appropriate setup. Just remember to do this a couple days in advance and to make a list. The last thing you want is to forget something on the day of the shoot. Trust me.
Be yourself, but play the part. If this is your first shoot ever then you are most likely going to be nervous. That is more than okay. Being nervous means that you care. Just remember to be yourself when you meet with the client. Make conversation, get to know each other a little, so that when you start shooting there is less tension and the shots look more natural.
Remember that you are the photographer. You are the one directing the model and seeing through your lens what looks best. Your client might want a specific pose they saw in some magazine and that’s fine, take that shot, but then take your own. Just because some poses look good on some people doesn’t mean it’ll look good on everyone. Take your shots, try to see what looks best and most importantly, don’t expect it all to go according to plan. Unexpected things will happen, mistakes will be made. Just take control of each situation and go with it. Some of the best things happen by mistake.
Go out there. Shoot. Shoot again. Learn. Then shoot again. There’s no right way to create art.