After spending months doing school photography and getting used to only having a minute with my subjects, it was time to have an extended shoot in my own time. Gail Scott - a model from Salisbury who's worked with my girlfriend for nearly 2 years now, was the first model I approached when looking for someone to get in front of the camera for this shoot. This blog post is here to document the process of putting together a shoot from start to finish. Maybe it will be helpful for any other photographers out there starting out shooting portraits...
Step 1 - Model and Purpose
The first thing I thought about was the purpose of the shoot - for me it was to try out some new lighting setups, get some more images for my website and just for the enjoyment of actually spending time with someone for longer than 30 seconds! So an experienced model would be preferable as I wanted to get through a lot of different setups, so Gail was the first person that sprung to mind. After a quick chat she was on board!
Step 2 - The Planning Phase
From the start this was going to be done at my home - I was wanting to do this in a studio environment and my front room just about has enough space for this once a few bits of furniture were put to the side so why hire a studio when you have all you need at home? Next I put together a mood board for the shoot using Pinterest and shared it with Gail for her reference when picking out outfits for the day. Pictures could be added to the board for various reasons, be it lighting, background, pose, outfits, etc. Pinterest now allows you to add sections to a board as well so I split up the board into sections for each of the setups I wanted to do on the shoot.
At this point I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do lighting-wise, so I draw up lighting diagrams with relative positions of the lights, what modifiers they'll have on them, and what camera settings I'll use. The day before the shoot I did a test shoot with my girlfriend modelling to check these setups worked out and to iron out any problems that may arise before recording the final positions and directions of the lights and light readings using a light meter. Light meters may feel a little redundant in this day and age, but for setting up a studio they're incredibly useful and greatly speed up the process. Between a tape measure, light meter and these diagrams I'd drawn up I could quickly switch setups while Gail changed outfits, saving time on the day.
Step 3 - The Shoot!
On the day of the shoot Gail got here, we went through the outfits she'd bought and got straight to shooting once I'd set up, starting off with everything on a white background so I could get the extra lights required for this out of the way for the rest of the shoot. At this point I'm figuring out how best to direct and how much direction Gail needed - for some specific poses she took direction really well, but was also great at being let loose to pose however she liked and would quickly switch from pose to pose between shots. At this point we could get through a particular setup within 10-15 minutes and in the end did 6 different setups within 3 hours. It was a great experience working with a model who knows what they're doing and is a fun, outgoing person.
Step 4 - The Edit
Soon as the shoot is done everything gets backed up before editing. Once the editing is done the JPEGs are then backed up both online and on another hard drive before the images are sent via Dropbox to Gail.
Editing a shoot like this should be easy, as you should in theory have got everything pretty much spot on in camera. All I had to do was minimal adjustments to the shadows and highlights, set the white balance and make a small tone curve adjustment, the only difficulty was reducing the number of shots down as there were so many shots that were keepers!