It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional model, an actor, musician, a family or an individual who wants pictures for their dating profile. Their are certain things you should do in preparation for your photoshoot that will make your experience and the results something you’ll be happy with for a lifetime. Below are 5 very basic tips for doing that.
I don’t care who you are, one of the most important, most essential things anyone should do is rest. Do not underestimate the importance of a good nights sleep. Relax, go to bed early. DO NOT go out partying. Do not show up on set or on location hungover, looking like a dirty tired old wet sock, or just plan unmotivated. Trust me, not only will you kill the buzz of the shoot for everyone involved but you will see it in the results.
If you’re not working with a clothing stylist then all you intend to wear should be laid out, clean and ironed a day or two prior to your shoot. Do be sure they are lint and hair free. Leave the cat hair at home and take care when transporting them to your shoot. I can’t tell you how many clients I stress this to yet they still show up with wrinkled old dirty clothes. A lot of time and care is spent on commercial shoots prepping and styling clothes to ensure they look the best. It should be no different for individuals.
While still on the subject of clothing I feel a need to make this it’s own bullet point. Your wardrobe should compliment your face not detract from it. Do not choose clothes with large busy prints and loud vibrant colors, . also, no logos. Loud colors usually command the viewer’s attention, etc. It’s important you discuss wardrobe with your photographer and or agent before the shoot.
Unless you’re a rock band or working with a team of professional stylists be groomed. For women, any grooming should be done a few days prior to your shoot. Repeat, a few days. Do not get a facial and your eyebrows tweezed the night before. Men should get a haircut a week prior to the shoot. If you wish to have a few ‘rough’ shots and then shave to include a few shots with a smoother look, please bring your shaving kit. Both men and women should have clean nails. Women should not wear colors that distract from their face, hair and clothes. No vibrant nail colors. Make up should be discussed with your photographer.
On the morning of your shoot EAT! It’s important not to go hungry during the shoot. You need your energy. You don’t want to crash. If it’s a commercial shoot don’t count on catering. Ask if their will be craft services. If not, eat prior to arriving or bring something with you.
Although their are other tips and advise that can be given these 5 basics will definitely help make your experience a good one. Believe it or not I have had clients show up tired, hangover, unkept, hungry AND with wrinkled dirty clothes. Their is one important take away that can be obtained by all this. That is, that although you rely heavily on the experience and expertise of your photographer it takes teamwork to ensure a complete and successful photoshoot. It’s important to know that as a individual client or hired talent you become part of that team.
Is this the worlds happiest photograph? Some say it is. In 1950 photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt was on assignment for Life magazine covering the famous Michigan State University marching band. He unexpectedly spotted the drum major practicing his high steps on a nearby playing field. Not long after he started snapping, a group of children playing nearby began mimicking and following the drum major. Eisenstaedt stated that the shot was done on impulse. “I saw a little boy run after him” Eisenstaedt recalled. “All of the other children ran after that boy. And I ran after them”. Life Magazine has called the image “Ode to Joy”. Former president Bill Clinton reportedly was gifted a rare original print of this image by Life Magazine. What do you think, is this the happiest photograph ever taken?
The image reminds me to be ready to shoot at all times, the importance of being spontaneous and most of all the importance of having fun.
Now shut up and shoot.
In my last post I wrote a little about why I like shooting film and touched base on the high dynamic range of film verse digital. While out shooting the other day using my old but still good Minolta I brought one other item with me, my trusted hand held light meter. Many modern day hobbyist and maybe even some new pros may have no idea what a hand held meter does or what it even is. Even many seasoned older pros ditched them years ago and are putting all their faith in the digital built in light meter of today’s cameras like the one in the Canon EOS 1D pictured below. Few are the days of seeing a photographer with a meter strung around his or her neck. Below I briefly explain why many people including myself still use a hand held meter even when shooting digital and why more, especially in portrait and studio work, are reaching back into their bags for this trusted tool….and you should too!
The main difference between a hand held meter and a digital cameras meter is that a hand held meter measures incident light whereas a cameras built in meter reads reflective light. It should be noted that some hand held meters, such as the Sekonic L-758 pictured below are capable of taking both an incident light reading and a reflective light reading. Incident light refers to the intensity of light falling onto a subject. Properly used a hand held meter measures the intensity of light that falls on a subject. A reflective light reading such as that obtained by your cameras built in meter measures just what it implies, the intensity of light reflecting off or from a subject. Not too long ago I spoke to another professional photographer, a colleague, who didn’t know what incident light readings where in addition they didn’t really know what their built in meter was doing.
As a baseline, for consistency and accuracy all meters are designed to read a scene or subject as neutral gray. It is the middle of the darkest darks and lightest lights. This insures accuracy and consistency by saying that all subjects are in the same average lighting situations. This is called the neutral gray standard. Because reflective meters like the ones built into the camera measure the intensity of reflective light coming off a subject a lot of information is lost due to variables in a scene resulting in inaccurate readings. This inaccuracy may cause a subject to either be under or over exposed, and cause colors to be misinterpreted. Two people with the same skin tones will meter completely different if one is wearing black and the other all white (or all colors in between) or one scene is in a park and the other is on the beach. Although each subject or scene is actually a different shade the reflective reading will assume the same average or neutral shade. Most digital cameras have what is called a spot metering mode which can help but not eliminate this problem. Spot metering takes a reflective light reading off a particular part (or spot) of a subject, usually a face in portrait photography. A more accurate reading can be obtained by pointing your camera at a neutral 18% grey card positioned in front of your subject then making the proper in camera adjustments. At the end of the day a lot of photographers spend a lot of time looking at their LCD screen, re-shooting, and checking histograms (a whole other topic). They are making a lot of adjustments either on the fly or in post production to make up for these inaccuracy’s. In many cases, such as event photography, sports, and news there is no time for hand held meters and shooting on the fly and making those adjustments are warranted. In fact, it is part of why we embrace digital photography and today’s technology when it comes to workflow.
The advantages of hand held light meters however are worth noting and exploring. Because hand held meters measure the intensity of light falling onto a subject you have no loss of information due to variables such as color or reflectiveness of a scene or subject. The meter is not effected by those variables thus you get a more accurate reading of the intensity or amount of light. The result, in most cases, is an extremely accurate reading based off a subjects tonality, contrast and color regardless of reflectivity. Guess work and time messing around with camera adjustments is greatly reduced. You’re given more precise camera settings to use. When working with film this method becomes almost essential in some cases because you have no display to rely on. More time can be spent on being creative and focusing on the desired look. A deeper understanding of metering will give you greater control especially when you delve into lighting ratios and an understanding of the correlation between ambient light and studio or flash lighting.
They range in price but you certainly don’t have to break the bank on these suckers. Whether you’re shooting stills or shooting video, digital or film a hand held light meter is well worth the investment.
Now shut up and shoot…..