Tuesday 22 January 2019

The guide to a successful shoot day

I personally believe that a photo will make or break a lot of things. One bad photo can knock the confidence of anyone. One bad photo can stop that top you love so much from being taken out of your wardrobe ever again. A series of bad photos can ruin a day's worth of work, something you'll only realise once you get home. I do however, think that 'bad photos' are a learning curve, something 99% of bloggers/instagrammers/people of that sort will have experienced themselves. I love seeing the "my photography 2 years ago to now" posts on Insta and Twitter, because visual progress is always a good thing. I don't however love blurred, wonky photos that look nothing like the image in my head. So I wrote a guide to avoiding this very situation.

Step 1: To splash or to saveA weekly issue that I face. Do I hop on Instagram and find a blogger worthy photographer to take my street style shots, or do I pick up my camera and do it all myself. There are pros and cons of each: a photographer will know what they're doing (it's their job) and you don't have to worry about the shot coming out pretty decent (that said if you hire someone who has completely different tastes in imagery, colours etc then this may not always be true). Most photographers will edit the images for you. If their style is similar to yours then fab, but I love creative control over every element, including the edit, so I find it hard to wait a few days for the finished result. They aren't cheap either. I've worked with one or two photographers who I love, get on well with and know that they'll do a great job. The minute I come to work with them again they've upped their prices by nearly double for the same (or even less) package, something I just can't justify splashing out on atm. Obviously if you shoot it yourself then every element is in your control. Great for control freaks like myself, but as you'll read further down in this post, having someone else take the photos for you, who may not have any idea what they're actually doing, can lead to disappointment when it comes to seeing the photos in HD for the first time. Editing takes time. It's my favourite part, so for me I love knowing I have hundreds of photos to sort through because that means CONTENT. And it's free (bar the camera expense/ editing software etc). If you have however been convinced that a professional photography service is the way forward, then you can click off this post, make a cup of tea and settle down for the night, because I have nothing left for you. If you choose to do it solo (excluding the bff/boyf/girlf/parent/stranger you've asked to hold and press the button) then please do carry on reading.

Step 2: The equipment.Shooting on my phone and shooting on my Olympus Pen are two completely different experiences. Currently, I'm opting for the Pen. The images are clearer and just exactly how I'm looking to portray myself recently. An expensive camera isn't always required though. Phones are far more capable of building an empire upon than they were when I first started doing all of this. I have many shots saved on my phone, worthy of the 'gram, ready for a day when I've ran out of photos. However, I do love knowing that everything I'm editing has a place on my feed, but also my blog, because the quality is just that good.

Step 3: Location location locationThere are masses of "Instagram guides to..." on the web so it'll be hard not to be inspired by the cafes and pretty walls wherever you live. London is a hive for every type of person, and every type of shoot. If I want pretty flowers in the spring I'll head to Chelsea. If I want hipster style cafes and architecture, I'll pop down to Liverpool Street or Shoreditch. Remember that 'ugly location challenge' a while back? I saw some beautiful shots from the most unsightly places. Just be willing to make it work, wherever you are.

Step 4: AnglesSo you've grabbed your camera, chosen your spot and convinced your bf to come along. You start shooting. You check the images to find that they're blurred, has your head cut off, and is so high up the forehead looks 10x bigger than usual (true story). In terms of blurring, it's simple; CHECK THE BLOOMING IMAGE. If one shot is blurred, the next 5 will be too. It's really simple to focus on the subject. The Olympus Pen lets you use the touch screen to click what you want in focus. Why is it so hard to press on me and not the tree half a mile away? Phones work in the same way, by c-l-i-c-k-i-n-g the person. Other cameras will have a viewfinder, somewhere where you have to look at the image before you take it. Rapid press by all means. Everyone loves a long choice for that one gram, but don't just forget about it and assume it'll be ok. Because it won't. 

And on to angles. 

If you've ever been on a shoot with me or one of my pals, you'll know that the lower you go, the happier we'll be. Directly face on shots are GREAT if you're capturing just the headshot or that new lipstick you've been wearing for example. Longer distance outfits shots may LOOK face on, but if they really were, the aforementioned forehead issue would arise once more. I've illustrated my concerns below:

As you can see above, the first image was taken straight on. Half of the photo is the road. The road is not the fashion blogger. As I've said before, I use the 45mm lens on my Olympus Pen. This lens doesn't move and you have to be further back than usual to get a good amount of the subject in. Although being further away does mean for a varied (or unwanted) depth of field, the issue here is the angle itself. Had the photo been taken from the floor, facing upwards, the road would almost disappear. Had I been closer in the first photo, with the same angle as the first, my head would have been cut off or I'd have been left with a small square of actual photo (if that makes sense). After rereading this paragraph I fear that none of it does actually make any sense. Alas it does in my head so here it shall stay.

Really, I think the only way you'll find your 'sweet spot' and know what you want is by getting it all very wrong, to know what's very right. I'm no expert, and could never do it professionally, but I do have a qualification in photography, and have done enough shoot days with the bloggers to know what works and what really doesn't. I know straight away when *insert name here* is going to hate the round of photos we've just taken, and I know what we can try next to get it right. I think listening to the subject's wishes is SO important. When I'm in picture posing mode, I'll know from just standing there that the person taking the photo isn't making sure that it's in focus. I'll know when the angle is too straight and I'm more than happy to ask the person to get further down, and angle it up, to get what I want. Hand actions are key to a happy work relationship. Don't shout, just wave.


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