Before pursuing my passion for photography I produced many photo shoots while I was working for other fashion companies. We had at least one photo shoot per quarter, if not two, and as a Brand Manager I was responsible for managing and executing those shoots. I found the model (or sometimes dressed and undressed the mannequin), created the shot list, styled the outfits, managed the time, made final selects and approved final look books. This experience helped me a lot when I launched my own line. I'm really glad that I get to share this knowledge with all of you now that I am behind the lens.
Tip #1: Create A Shot List
This is a list of the outfits/shots that you want to fit into your allotted time for the photo shoot. It can be all written, or it can include visuals of the products with numbers next to or below the images. It should also include notes about whether you want to shoot front, back, side, close up or all of the aforementioned. I suggest a spreadsheet, but it does not need to be fancy, you just need to be able to reference it. Photo shoots can be overwhelming, especially if you're the producer. This is a great way to make sure you don't miss anything and it's also a guide for your photographer.
Tip #2: Take Time To Create An Inspo Board (Pinterest is great for this)
You want to make sure everyone is on the same page and has direction for your shoot. Providing your photographer, model and makeup artist with an inspo board is a great way to make sure your vision is seen. It does not need to be elaborate, but should include at least 1 - 2 images for hair and makeup and a variety of images for poses and overall mood for the story that you want to tell through your photos.
Tip #3: Start Hair and Makeup Before The Photographer Arrives
You want to get the most out of the time you're paying for. The photographer does not need to be present while makeup is being applied. If it's a relatively simple shoot with natural lighting and does not involve much setting up for the photographer, it's best to have them arrive about 10-15 minutes before you will be ready to shoot. That way the photographer can get settled, test lighting and perhaps grab a few 'behind the scenes' shots for you.
On the flip side, If your shoot does involve an elaborate set up, then the photographer should come around the same time as everyone else, to get everything set up, so hair, makeup and set up are all complete around the same time.
Tip #4: The First 30 - 50 Shots Are Usually Practice
Don't be too hard on yourself. It takes time to find a rhythm between the photographer and the subject being shot. Especially if it's their first time working together. Sometimes the very first shot is the money shot, but most of the time, it takes around 30 - 50 shots to find what's working and get into a flow. Have fun with it and don't be afraid to try something new.
Tip #5: Prepare All Of Your Looks Before The Shoot Begins
You have that shot list, so keep everything in order by hanging the outfits on hangers or laying them on a table or other surface in the same order as the shot list. There's a chance you might mix things up a bit, depending on how the looks are photographing, but this is a great way to make sure you don't forget anything and to make sure you're not flustered - especially if you are the model and the producer for the shoot.
Tip #6: Decide How Much Time You Want To Spend Shooting Each Look
This can be a mental note, but I'd definitely also share it with your photographer. If you give yourself a designated amount of time for each look, it will help you move through your shot list and not obsess over one look. If you've taken 30 shots of one look, there are definitely going to be a few selects in the bunch. Something you could try is setting a timer on your phone for each look.
Tip #7: Leave Extra Time At The End
Photo shoots can be exhausting for everyone involved. Leave a few minutes (even just 20) at the end to regroup and decide if there's something you think you need reshoot or to just have some fun. In my experience a lot of the shots at the very end turn out great because the pressure is off and the team has bonded throughout the whole shoot.
Tip #8: Be Essential When Making Your Selects
This is the hardest part for me, I always want to select so many!
Round 1 - I start by quickly going through all the photos and flagging the ones that I like.
Round 2 - I go through them again and narrow it down. If I selected two of almost the same photo I flip between the two a few times and pick the one that I love most.
Round 3 - I leave the photos for a day or a few hours if I don't have much time and I go back to them later and make my absolute final selects. Again if I am selecting two photos that look almost the same, I flip between the two to make my final select (you may go a little cross eyed).
Tip# 8A: Ask your photographer if they keep the images for a while, just in case you are afraid you've made the wrong selection. I keep all of my originals for up to 6 months.
Tip #9: Don't Be Afraid To Be A Boss
This is your shoot, your time and your money. Make sure you are directing everyone involved (in a nice way of course). But, be firm and make sure everyone is being productive and not goofing around.
Tip #10: Play Your Favorite Music And Have Fun
Last but definitely not least, make sure you create a setting that makes you feel happy and comfortable. Music is a great way to set the vibe and you never know, that photo of you dancing might be the winner.
I hope these tips were helpful and you feel a bit more prepared for your next photo shoot. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me, I'd love to chat or help you with your next shoot!