When I started shooting clients and photography became the source of my income, at first I was really enjoying the fact that I could fix any undesired results in Photoshop. I was so happy that I could find a way to fix almost anything. I loved retouching as much as shooting, and I was happy to do it.
But once I became serious about my business, the more I learned the more I new that it was not the way. Especially since from day one of having paid clients, when needed, I was renting photography studios, hiring professional makeup artist, hair stylist and stylists for the job. And it became clear that the more I get it right in the camera, the better it was for my business.
There are a few unarguable reasons for getting it right straight in the camera.
- When photography is your business, time is money. If you want to run a successful business, if you want to be able to pay your bills, make profits and hire stuff, you cannot afford to waste your time and energy on issues that could be prevented before or during the shoot.
- No matter whether you are a beginner or experienced retoucher, some things might take long time to fix. Or/and they might not look as good or natural.
- The more time your retouching takes, you or your client, or both, will loose time and money. One is certain, someone will pay for it. If retouching takes more time and boosts the price of your photo sessions, your clients may not want to hire you again in the future.
Whether you shoot private clients, corporate portraits or you are in commercial photography, making your shots work straight in the camera is the most important. Yes, even when you are a great, highly skilled retoucher as well as an amazing photographer.
In this article I’d like to share with you few things I’ve learned during the past couple of years while working with outstanding, talented, skilled and knowledgeable creative teams. There are steps you, your team and your model, your client can take to get ready and create an amazing photo session experience on the day of the shoot.
Rule #1: always be prepared, make a plan of action!
While keeping in mind that no matter how well you plan, things will not always go the way you expect them to. Still at least in my case, the better I prepared the better I could handle challenges. So before any shoot, however short, as I also have 30 minuets Mini Corporate Photo Sessions in my studio, I start with writing a detailed plan of action. I include everything in it. I start with planing and scheduling consultations, clarifying the concept, choosing backgrounds, light, location. I choose specific poses for my client while keeping in mind the core message and specific outfits my client wants used and express. Choosing makeup and hair styling in advance is also included. Down to planing for testing my photography gear and charging batteries. Even preparing drinks and snacks for the shoot when required, it’s all in there.
If I need additional props, dresses, styling, gear, I plan for it. I know in advance when I’ll get them. All should be ready for the photo session day few days before, just in case you meet some challenges on the way.
Rule #2: Connect and communicate with your client and your creative team!
I make sure that my team is informed and up to date on all they need to know. I do not like leaving things to chance. This way the decision-making is all done in advance, and I can focus on my client during the photo shoot day. The photo session experience is all about them, and that’s really important to keep in mind.
Photo Session Tip: Even if you are preparing for a TFP photo session (creative collaboration photo shoot where you exchange time for pictures with your team). Treat it just as you would if it was a well-paid photo shoot with a dream client. Always show up for the client, model and the team you are working with 100%. Do your best to deliver on the highest level and make every shoot count.
Rule #3: Show gratitude!
Whether you are shooting with your team, people you chose personally and know well, or you are shooting with a new creative team, prepare the same way. Make a connection and communicate. Make sure to keep your team and clients, when needed, updated on the way you work.
Being prepared and clear communication are the keys to having an amazing photo session experiences.
Whenever you shoot and managed to have a wonderful collaboration, work with a team and get great results make sure to appreciate your clients, your team, models included, and let them know how grateful you are that they did a great job. Thank your clients for choosing you and your team for making the results possible.
When working with professional, semi professional models or clients make sure that you are connected with them and that you communicate your ideas clearly. The better the connection and your communication, the better your final results will be.
Here are few things that are crucial and good to communicate with your models or clients, if your are often photographing private clients like me. It’s your job to let them know how you work, what you expect, and how they can prepare best for an amazing photo session experience with you.
- First things first: it’s your job to educate your mode/client on how to prepare for a photo session with you.
- Second, on the photo session day, your ideal model/client should understand your direction and be able to follow it well for you to be able to capture the pictures your need to make them happy at the end of the day. You can correct many thing in Photoshop, however you will not be able to edit the emotions she or he expresses. You will not be able to change they facial expressions or body language. That’s why it’s so important to meet your client, or model in person for an consultation. During that meeting you will be able to answer or the questions and make sure that you are on the same page.
- Before an important big shoot, if you can have a test shoot that would be ideal. You will be able to not only make sure that the styling is on point, but also you will see how your model behaves in front of the camera.
- Be always on time, and make sure that your team is there and ready as well before your clients arrives. Nobody likes to work with unreliable team. As you can imagine, it really sets the wrong impression and if the client needs to wait for you or your team members, it can really badly influence everybody’s mood and the final results in a negative way.
- Share Beauty Guide with your client/model(if you have one, if not consider to create one for your models and clients. It’s an amazing tool to share + it helps your models/clients to know and remember what to do, how to prepare + it showcases your commitment, and makes a great impression). Show that you care, and make sure that she or he knows how to prepare for the photo session day. Dirty hair, tired skin, even the wrong color and style of manicure can add to preparation time, (or your retouching time) and that’s all going to happen before you even take the first shot. Remember, on a photo session day you are on the clock. You will have the time you will have, that is it.
- I will say it again, that’s how important it is – treat every photo session as it was with my dream come true highly-paying client.
- During the 1st consultation and in my Beauty Guide I share few important steps to follow. When the booking takes place at the ideal time, 4 weeks before and my client has a month to prepare it makes the whole difference. In the first step for example I remind them to make all the appointments needed ahead of time, drink more water, avoid sun, bite their nails. I share there long term advice that can make a difference.
- Three weeks before: if they are in charge of styling, I advice them to go shopping for the right outfits ( as you know, this can take time). I encourage them to start stretching, take care of their skin whether at home or at their favorite beauty center. And visit a dentist for example.
- One week before: it’s time to organize their outfits, wax eyebrows and upper lip, wax all the body parts needed, pay attention to their caffeine and salt intake for example. Your advice is really up to you. Trust your experience and make sure to share it with your client/model.
- I don’t know about you, but in my experience fake tanning looks really bad and fake in pictures, so I advice to avoid it at least till after the session at this point of preparation.
- 3-5 days before photo session: in my photography studio, is usually time for the final wardrobe consultation and meeting face to face. Make sure to schedule it in advance. This is the day when I test shoot as well, when I work with a big commercial client and work with new models. I don’t test shoot when working with private clients as there is a very different energy and flow to it. This depends really from the project I’m working on. At this point I also advice for women to touch up their roots if they dye their hair, and get a fresh trim while they are at it (but to avoiding drastic changes). I make sure to remind them that neat healthy hair looks and is youthful and vibrant, and will make them look and feel even better in their own skin. If they use and usually have eyelashes extensions, I remind them that this is the moment to think of it as well. Most important is that you know your client, that you know who you are working with and offer the guidelines that they will find useful. The goal is not to change the people we have the privilege to photograph but to support them and guide them so they can rediscover themselves and feel loved and cared for.
- You can also give tips on what to do on The Day Before and on Photo Session Day as well to offer full on guidance and leave as little as possible to chance.
- Once you’ve done all you could during consultation, on the day of the session make sure that your makeup artist is paying attention to details. As a photographer you are also often a leader of your creative team. Make sure that your team knows what’s important to you too. Such as looking after the client’s/model’s her lips, and apply lip softener to prevent them from chapping, especially before a close-up photo shoot.
- While you shoot, make sure that your team is there with you. That the hairstylist and makeup artist are on the set, right by the model outside of the frame – calming frizzy hair, fixing messed up eyebrows and smeared lipstick, and freshening up the skin. At this point, everything they miss you will have to fix in editing.
Photo Session Tip: When you shoot a editorial, commercial photo session, shooting tethered to see the results on your computer screen really helps to fix and prevent all possible problems as you shoot. I do not advice this while shooting private clients, as during those sessions, as always getting amazing results is the goal, but you really need to focus on creating a wonderful overall experience.
Keep in mind that all those factors will affect your post-production time, cost, and ultimately the results of the shoots. So it’s in your best interest to make sure that your client/model knows how to prepare for your shoot. Obvious cores of action to you mind not be, and often is not obvious to your clients, or your creative team members.
I hope you found those tips helpful, and if there’s something else you do before your shoots, please share it with us in the comments below. And if you want to hear more, make sure to check out my previous posts.
I’m here to share and help you out on your photographic journey.
Have a wonderful day ♥ Just remember, you can do anything you set your mind to, but it takes planing, taking action, perseverance, and at times facing your fears.