Breaking Down How A Photoshoot Happens

I recently watched this Youtube video from the great Alexi Lubomirski.


So basically you start off with a concept.

That means you do your research. This includes hair, makeup, wardrobe, location, and lighting. (I’m probably forgetting a couple!)

You’re going to build up a reference library of poses, styling, the general feel/aesthetic, and the emotion.

Add it to your mood board.

Here’s what one of my mood boards look like:

Once you do all of this, you go out and look for a model that fits your concept and your vision.

Then you meet your model before the shoot. At this time, I haven’t had the luxury of meeting models before the shoot, but I haven’t had a problem connecting with them from the get-go.

Don’t make things awkward with the model. I mean, that’s pretty obvious, right? Don’t overcomplicate things either.

Alexi says, “What makes an amazing picture is what you get out of the model.”

And he’s absolutely right.

I try to talk to my models and get a sense of who they are in terms of personality and gauge their comfortability. Some are apprehensive about some shots. Others are eager to try. Everyone is different, so my approach is different every time. But once the both of you get into the groove, things feel more natural!

Now, the day before the shoot, send out a call sheet. It’s very important you do, because it’s basically the itinerary of how the day of the shoot will go. It also has contact information of everyone on your team and locations, so that no one is lost and confused. Here’s a sample!

And you shouldn’t be afraid of listening to ideas from your MUA, stylist, and model. (But you’re still the captain of the ship, so use your judgement!)

In a photoshoot, things can go wrong, or things just might not work out as well as you’d hoped. In that case, move around. If your shots aren’t coming out the way you want it to, switch the angle, try another background. Do something! And be confident.

A stressed out photographer means a stressed out model. Be calm. Be cool. Be confident.

Also, treating the model like a human is important. Respect is a huge thing with me. And it should be the same with the model.

Think about lighting. Think about angles. Frame the model. Think about poses. Refer back to the mood board when you have to. Go back to your reference library, or some of the select photos you have on your phone. Try something new, try standing up, try sitting down, try overhead, try low angle, have the model stand on a ledge, or you stand on a ledge.

After you wrap, it’s time to review and edit. Your work has just begun!

I usually desaturate my greens and blues and tone the orange down. After that, I’ll adjust for skin color.

Alexi says to keep the edits simple — don’t go overboard. And to go with your gut. And make sure you like the images you send out to the client, because they might just use that photo you weren’t very happy with. And you’ll be upset with yourself!

When you edit, you have to think about the page spread and the story. And when you choose the images, make sure they fit into the story you’re telling.

And if you’re doing a spread, you have to think about the gutter and where the text is going to go.

Don’t think too much about the edits you’ve made. As long as they’re within what the client has asked of you (and doesn’t look like it’s been heavily edited), you’ll be okay. Just make sure you’re happy with it. Then send it off!

(Models: Taylor, in featured image and orange dress: @taycfac; Nicole, in grey shirt: @nicolewhitehall)


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