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Thread: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    This maybe interesting and had no real home for it but regardless your shooting for a client or just a weekend warrior adventure. How do you prepare for it?

    What does it take from getting you ready to get out there. Do you plan, Make a shot list, a gear list a cleaning procedure. What does it take you to get yourself out the door.

    Have fun.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    I spend a year testing all the gear I might take, then take something else at the last moment, forget to charge the battery, don't clean the sensor, leave the tripod plate home and find that both spare cards I took are locked and I can't remember why I locked them...

    Then I get a flat tire.

    Anyone else got tips?

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    Senior Member Mike Woods's Avatar
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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    I prepare by reading all the good stuff on GetDPI.....and then find its too late to go and shoot. Bloody forums

    Mike
    http://mikewoods.zenfolio.com/
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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    Usually it involves packing the same gear in any one of a dozen bags to get the "right" bag...

    Or packing and unpacking changing the mix- do I take the RZ so I can do something for myself? Will there be anything there worthwhile?

    Or how about lets do this guerrilla style and just take a shoulder bag and shoot available light NO MATTER WHAT.....oh well, then I better take tripod JUST IN CASE...argh!

    That's nothing compared to what goes through my head even just thinking about the shoot- what do I want to do? what will they like? how much time? is it worth all this worry??

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    Subscriber Member weinschela's Avatar
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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    How many times do you pack and unpack your bag? How long does it take to pick which bag? (Everybody has more than one bag don't they?)
    Alan

    Selection of work: http://weinschela.zenfolio.com

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    I'm the kind of guy who takes like 3 minutes to pack my suitcase for a weekend trip. I do the same with gear -- just grab my bags and go. If it's a specific trip, I may spend a few minutes removing this, adding that and swapping around, and choosing the bag that will hold it all best. Then I blow dust off everything and make sure my batteries are all full and I have plenty of cards. Ready, set go...

    I learned a long time ago it doesn't matter what I bring or what I leave behind, there's almost always one I didn't need and one I wish I'd brought... But I've also learned I can get great shots with whatever it is I happen to have with me.
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."
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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    Quote Originally Posted by weinschela View Post
    How many times do you pack and unpack your bag? How long does it take to pick which bag? (Everybody has more than one bag don't they?)
    its the square of the number of formats in play

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    I have several ready to go set ups.

    F-Stop Tilopa with my tech camera outfit & MFDBs etc.
    F-Stop Satori with the Nikon outfit
    Domke 803 with the Fuji X's
    Pelican case with the Phase One DF & glass. on a Think Tank belt system
    Lowepro slingshot with Fuji 617
    Billingham MF beast of a bag with Rollei 6008 system & glass
    Tripod bag with tripod & LEE filters & pouch etc.

    Normally everything is ready to go unless I have to fly and decide to take a combination in which case all hell breaks loose as I try to pack down for the airlines. I like each one to be ready to go with batteries, a charger, CF or SD cards (or film).

    The only problem is when my routine is broken and I try to reduce the kit for travel. For example, I just went to Iceland and thought I'd packed my Canon BH-910 battery pack/charger in it's small Think Tank bag and so didn't bother including my Phase One charger. I get to Iceland only to find that the Think Tank bag has my big batteries in it but ... I'd taken out the Canon charger! Luckily a fellow gear whore was with me and so I was able to borrow one of his several spares.

    A good friend of mine has the ultimate gear story though - we arranged a shooting long weekend in Ohio and he drove 300 miles up to join us and when we checked in:

    Clothes bag - check
    Tripod - check
    Camera bag - err, oops, still sitting in his hallway at home.

    Luckily I had brought along a Fuji X100 so he was able to shoot for the weekend. We joked that every shot looked like a great opportunity for a 35mm shot for him
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    Pretty much nothing other than making sure i have charged batteries and a few lenses. Other than what is going to be used, everything else is tossed in a back back that no one would bother with.

    If it is a technically oriented shoot then all the doodahs come into play but that is boring stuff, really.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    Cameras? The black things that fill half my wardrobe? Must fit in one of those bags. Maybe I should take a couple of lenses too? Why don't they colour code battery chargers? Wait, wait... I'll just take my pills and come back to you. Where are those pills now. Should I see a doctor first?

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    I have several ready to go set ups.
    That fill a Land Rover to the gills for EVERY trip!


    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."
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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    Jack: It makes choosing what to take easier
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    I thought photography was talking about gear on forums...

    I have one bag and it is ready to go. I always do my cleaning when I get back so everything is ready for the next time. If you have one camera, one bag, and one tripod, how hard is packing anyway? You can never have the wrong equipment, just the wrong solution.

    However, I do research for projects--before, during, and after. For just casual shooting, I just have fun. I have fun with projects, but it is researched fun.
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    Subscriber Member KurtKamka's Avatar
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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    One camera. One lens. And a wrist strap. The deer in the headlights consideration is deciding which lens will go with on that day.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    I thought photography was talking about gear on forums...

    I have one bag and it is ready to go. I always do my cleaning when I get back so everything is ready for the next time. If you have one camera, one bag, and one tripod, how hard is packing anyway? You can never have the wrong equipment, just the wrong solution.

    However, I do research for projects--before, during, and after. For just casual shooting, I just have fun. I have fun with projects, but it is researched fun.
    I was hoping to hear how one prepares for the shooting as well. Not so much gear but how one wants to shoot and look they maybe after.

    I guess I say this since its on my mind with 5 full days of shooting with 75 final looks to accomplish in 5 diffrent locations and need to look not here in Arizona either. I'm shooting 1st grade to 12th grade national ad campaigns. They need to have a style but not a exact location either. Individuals,groups,mentoring,teaching,respect,comm unity,friendship are all the elements of look and style that I want to do. So I'm planning and what got me thinking about this. I pre visualize almost ever shot I take or I think I want to take before I even pack. Even landscape stuff I plan out what I'm after mostly and hope for surprises. Just wondering about how folks plan or visualize ahead of getting there.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    For me, I can spend a great deal of time preparing in the sense of what and how I am going to shoot. How much I use the prep for visualization depends on who it is for.

    For a client project, I work with the client to get the purpose of the project as well as the look or style. Since I am also not just doing photography by design for these projects, I also start a with the layout.

    For more personal work, I do research to learn about what I am photographing. Part of this is just to understand what I am looking at, but also what to look for. I don't use that information so much to visualize particular photographs, but just to focus on the complexity of the project. When I am in the field, then I am really working and seeing. I shot a lot and shot a lot more. When it is really physical, it is hard to keep up the concentration and energy for photography, but I have learned to do that, mostly through pacing and watch for the signs I am starting to fade. I keep a diary for most projects. I will shot quite a bit before starting to edit.

    I like working on projects that have some kind of narrative. While single images are important, I really like to work on groups of images. I like to make coherent bodies of work. I have found this takes a lot of prep.

    For fun, I take lots of single images. I also experiment with ideas. This gives me practice with new techniques or styles that might either lead to a new project or give me a few more tools in the field.
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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    I'm always looking for photo books- I just picked up on ebay the old twin palms edition of 108 portraits by Gus Van Sant. I remember when this came out I was not too bowled over by it, it seemed too easy- now I get how he really just had a moment with these people and put some polaroid to it. They are very natural which I guess I get now moreso with all this digital crap. Just what was in front of the camera which if it is good is good enough.

    Another book I picked up was Thomas Struth Family portraits- again, just a very simple but highly descriptive set of pictures, perceptive.

    How these help me is they keep me anchored to reality, so when I get a job I am NOT tempted to really load it up with "style" or stobist-ism, or any of that makeup.

    Getting good subjects with good light in meaningful moments is enough much of the time.

    I sometimes scour the internets, now, but used to be magazines and I kept tear sheets in a folder, ideas, looks, lighting, notes, just a reference to refer to looking for ideas. I still do that but I am careful not to look at it too much. After a while you see you tear out the same things anyway.

    I think the best way to prepare is just to be observant and rich in your own life and associations, to always be making work for yourself, so that when something comes along you have an aha moment where a connection happens you don't expect- you connect with the subject on something unrelated, a book you are reading, a movie, etc. and that just leads to a better moment to make an image. Also to share something of yourself with the subject, not only do you not know them, but they don't know you- so sharing with them can help them trust you.

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    Super Duper
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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    Since it's a location shoot (or multiple ones), if possible I try scout out the various possible locations in advance as a start to formulate creative ideas how best to approach and capture the essence of all the elements involved..the environment, the individuals, the activities etc. that represent the goals and objectives of the shoot. Seeing many of these possible sites in person instantly provides me with both ideas and/or the possible issues that might arise but more times than not, it gets the creative juices flowing.

    A person or especially a group's environment that's included in the image can be a very strong contributor to the message and when combined with images of ongoing activities or moments that represent such individuals or groups. It then often tells a story in a single or collection of pictures.

    Talking personally with students, teachers and those involved in projects or situations that are going to be photographed has also provided me with ideas on how to convey both the mood and message most effectively (especially from their viewpoint), so that captured images can then easily convey the context of the participants and their message to others, especially when individuals are simply exposed to these captured images upon their 1st glance.

    The old adage that a picture speaks a 1000 words can often apply...not generally with photographic gimmicks but by balancing out and incorporating those elements that simply tell a story that often goes hand in hand with a short but effective narrative. Just some basic thoughts I use as a starting point prior to similar types of assignments.

    Dave (D&A)
    Last edited by D&A; 30th April 2013 at 11:10.
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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    Quote Originally Posted by KurtKamka View Post
    One camera. One lens. And a wrist strap. The deer in the headlights consideration is deciding which lens will go with on that day.
    Me too: exactly!
    The weather and potential subject matter that I encounter are the factors for deciding which lens will be my servant for the day.

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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    If I am shooting for a client, I find that I like to go over as much as possible with client. If for myself I do the same kind of ore-visualization. However saying that I have to also stay as open as possible to whatever opportunities are there. With something like your situation there is a great deal of client input, so I try to cover as many possible looks of each thing that they want. I pack my gear, and visualize every set-up that I can and walk through what I do, and what equipment I will use and make sure that I have it, clean and tidy. Saying that, there is only so much planning. I have found that walking around a bit before hand helps me see what possibilities are there. It is sort of like this, long shots, close-ups, establishing story, character studies, a little fluff for filler. That would be my general approach for a client. For me, I have a pretty strong notion that I am looking for a specific something that is why I am going to whatever destination. But I still will stay open to what is being given to me. But I suspect you do the same as everyone else probably does the same. Human similarities tend to work in a pretty narrow range of ways. Joe

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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    Guy, I appreciate the pre-thinking you are asking about. Prepro is the secret to success, as luck favors the prepared.

    Commercial work, weddings, and personal work are each different processes for me.

    Weddings are more impromptu, and are more about being prepared for worst, and hoping for the best. Client pre-meetings help set the creative shoot expectations, I may sketch out a few ideas I want to try and accomplish if there is time ... map questing every location in order as a back-up to GPS, packing gear and redundant backups, working with clients on an itinerary for the day, then selecting gear based on timings and creative ideas (at this point I can pack and repack the bag as I change my creative ideas). I use a roller with most everything needed in it (strobes are separate), but also have smaller lens bags in the SUV for mobile location work ... grab the camera and two other lenses for mobile stop-off points.

    Commercial work and conceptual portraits are totally different and are based on so many years in advertising. I work mostly on the ideas and concepts first (which is the most important step) and select the ones I want to pursue ... then start the pre-pro process where I plan out each idea very carefully: location scout, plan timings for assistants, PAs, discuss ideas with hair/make-up, wardrobe, props ... look up the timings for the sun and the light direction at the location, actually diagram the lighting ideas for each set-up so we have everything I need ready.

    Personal work, just takes a bit of pre-thought ... mostly determined by how I want to creatively play it ... NYC or any urban location walk-about usually means B&W, Leica MM, small kit ... Tropical "fat light scenarios" may mean the S2 ... and so on. Or the exact opposite if I so choose to play it that way.

    three words ... Prepro, prepro, prepro. The creative notions or ideas inform the prepro, the prepro stacks the odds in favor of success ... yet mentally always leaving some room for intuitive discovery at the last minute.

    -Marc

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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    This maybe interesting and had no real home for it but regardless your shooting for a client or just a weekend warrior adventure. How do you prepare for it?

    What does it take from getting you ready to get out there. Do you plan, Make a shot list, a gear list a cleaning procedure. What does it take you to get yourself out the door.

    Have fun.
    My gear transports in several large road cases so not much thought goes into that. If the case slots are filled then I haven't forgotten anything. The gear is loaded the night before and ready to go.

    The shoot itself has been discussed with either the client or art director before hand. If it's on location then we've been out scouting the site a few days before hand and have our game plan. No time is wasted on the day of the shoot unless a model doesn't show up because her car broke down.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    Some great answers here. I've been doing this so long and its interesting to hear folks thoughts and agree with Marc each type of photography does create diffrent prep work and thoughts not to mention the gear needed. I also agree many outings are on a whim and a prayer as well. I thought this would be a interesting thread since it really is never brought up as we normally talk about the shoot itself or post production work. To me the whole process especially with a client from the time you hang up the phone until the clients check clears (LOL) its a fascinating process of getting your art out the door. It's funny I think about this all the time and its a big part of being a photographer and each job has certain critical parts to it that are worth sharing , so thanks for everyone's thoughts. Maybe this will help some folks accomplish better images.


    I think its time we have another shooting challenge.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Preparing for a Photo shoot.

    I have one big case that I feed smaller bags from according to need. Oh and a couple of drawers with less used stuff like sensor cleaning gear, lens pouches and step up rings, etc.

    Load up the bag after charging batteries. Depending on how much set up time I'll have I'll get the cameras and flashes on the right settings in advance. Oh and check the batteries in the radio slaves, so easy to forget that one, loads of charged camera and flash batteries but the thing needed to connect them, woops forgot that one!

    Cards, while charging batteries I format cards and load the cards face down into my card wallet. I never wipe cards till the next job, keeping that one extra step of backup as long as it's not a problem, heck you never know.

    Pro gear is such that most of the photographers I know never packed their gear up after a gig, they would keep their stuff all set up in a plastic box in the back of the car with a large ragged shmatta thrown over. That got lugged back into the office/studio at the end of the day. If you're shooting every day it's faster then bothering with full tear down. I used to tear down into bags myself but I was never that busy. As a pro though at least never bothered with caps Gear and bags full strip down and clean was once a year while doing the Passover cleaning .
    Last edited by Ben Rubinstein; 3rd May 2013 at 06:34.
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