Lights, camera, action.
Activating the camera shutter is the final step in a lengthy process (and it’s also the first step in a whole new chain of events - but that can keep for another article).
Let’s unpack that some more.
A typical studio photoshoot doesn’t take particularly long - depending on the time the model has, it might run for a couple of hours or more.
In any case, you can be sure that the planning started some time earlier. Everything starts with a brief, usually a short document that outlines the objectives for the shoot, and creative concepts that will deliver on this.
Sketching lighting set-up's helps refine options, and then into software to pre-visualise the look.
Many times I will check my “inspiration files” to kick-start my thinking, or more likely I will think about a small idea and see if I can develop it into a possible option.
At the same time, I’ll be communicating with models, the studio and others - depending on the shoot this might include designers, make-up artists, assistants and so on.
On shoot day I like to arrive early, unpack and start setting up the first couple of lighting plans. Getting some test shots in is always helpful to save time before the model arrives, that way they’re not waiting around while I finalise the lighting ratios.
I’m a big fan of shooting tethered - this is when the camera is connected directly to my laptop and each image is automatically shown on the computer moments after taking it. While you can always check the camera back, nothing beats the larger image on the computer - this is the best way to spot errors in the execution of the shot, and it’s handy to show the model from time to time (both to communicate the intentions of a shot I’m honing, and to reassure them we’re already capturing some good images).
Studio shoots also require food, music, and some good humour - plus some quick breaks so the model isn’t “always on”. Once the shooting ends, I backup the data files - it’s always reassuring to leave the studio knowing you got the shots the brief called for, and that the files are safely stored in duplicate prior to the all-important editing phase.