Every type of photography demands a different type of planning, especially fashion and commercial. The main difference being that you need to search and depend on your team far more then on a lets say a senior photo shoot. So for this post we will delve into how I personally plan for a shoot. (far from be it it’s the best method, but for me it is efficient, clear for everyone involved and if I may say successful). Also this post is intended for personal use and will not cover creative directors, producers or clients on set.
- Location and logistics
- Mood board
- Date and confirmations
I know its kind off self explanatory but I met a lot of people who first orginized whole photoshoots without a concept behind it. No story, mood or even pre planed lighting setup. Personally I believe in idea first, because if you know what you want then everything else become easier, especially explaining you vision to your team. If a team understands you then you will have much better success rather then if everyone just went in their direction. Cohesion is important and it starts with the person behind the idea.
The term team in a fashion shoot can be loosely based. After all, if you go towards more beauty oriented photoshoot a good MUA is all you need. (A hairstylist is definitely a bonus though.) But if you want to go towards making an editorial then you will also need a stylist. A great team can make or break a photoshoot and should be far more important then lightning or location. (In this post I will assume you already have people with whom you work and can find the best fit for the shoot, but i will cover in upcoming post on how to find other creatives in your area.) So send them your idea, find out if something is not possible and find solution to that. Listen to them, if they thing something should be done differently, articulate it with everyone and find the best solution. After that you should focus on the second most important thing, a model.
Obviously you should pick a model you think will work the best with the concept. If you want to make a romantic, soft mood, then green hair and tattoos (which are awesome) won't work as well. Models should be if it's possible represented by an agency. They have more experience, are not shy, right measurement for clothes and are excited to be working with you. (We will also go in depth on how to contact agency in the upcoming posts). I usually pick models with my team but not always. If I know someone looks amazing and is the right fit, I go with it and convince others. It is your idea, if you think something fits you sure as hell should pursue it. The easiest way to pick the right person is going through agencies websites and just look at their book. Find one who stood out for you and hope she will be available. Also you will probably have to make her sign contract, don't forget about that. Could save you a lot of hassle in the future.
Location and logistics
When you have decided on your team and model you should contemplate on your location, access, place to do make up, food, drinks and all the rest of our creature comforts. If it's a cold location figure out something to warm people like fire or blankets. I thoughrally believe that if you take care of those little things, perhaps even some chocolate people will be easier to work with and kinder. Also figure out a transport if it is an outdoor location. Who will drive, who will pick up a model perhaps and how many cars. Plan everything. Make a list of equipment you need and double check it before you go. On the other hand if you chose studio location then you should figure out how much time will you need, how much budget you have, if the studio has all the right props and backdrops. Again, figure out transport and get everybody there on time. It will suck if you will have to pay one hour more for nothing.
I know that many photographers make a mood board at the beginning, sent that to other artist and then go from there. I on the other hand first talk to the team, get their input and only then make a mood board. For me it just works better, because I can make it more accurately. And yes, you should definitely do a mood board, they are immensely helpful. Not only for you but for the whole team. They should at least involve reference photo for mood, hairstyle, make up, model polaroids, location pictures, couple words on concept. Usually I will stick with just that and its enough for 90% of situation. You can make it in many programs from lowly painter to indesign or even Lightroom. Whatever tool you prefer, but you should probably stick to white background and clean design.
Date and confirmations
After you finished with everything stated above the last thing should be picking the best date for everyone involved. This usually becomes weekend in the morning. But its different for everybody so ask them for free days and pick the most balanced approach. After that, go through everything with them and let them confirm they know the date, location, people involved and idea. It will save you so much headache knowing everybody is up to date with the whole photo shoot.