So you have a great photoshoot idea that's been burning a hole in the back of your brain. As amazing as it sounds to you, you continue to push it back. Finding the task of planning and executing said shoot has been daunting to say the least. I'm someone who as a beginner found this to be a problem that held me back more times than once. However, I'm here to say that by developing a process of sorts, this obstacle can become a thing of the past.
No matter what you shoot, be it fashion, portraiture, landscapes, or fine art, everything begins with an idea. It may come to you from a song you've heard on the radio or a vivid memory that continues to play itself out in your head. With that being said, I believe keeping a journal of sorts such as notes on your phone or an actual book of inspiration. As it comes along it helps you piece together your thoughts and begin to flesh them out.
A site I frequent to create my mood boards is Pinterest. There I create boards effectively either by ideas or themes that I've decided I would like to execute. Sometimes when I have a model in mind it is built around them. Other times I simply create themes that I can go back to at a later date when the right person or setting comes along.
Not only do they serve as a means of gathering your thoughts, they are also a way of allowing your team and modeling agencies to help see your vision and assist as they can. Often what I will do is create a collaborative Pinterest board so that those I am working with have access to also pour in inspiration as it comes to them. The example here was named "Bohemian Chic." Within it we added ideas for several things such as makeup, clothing, tonality and color choice, hair, model expressions, and mood.
This is also a good way of ensuring that one project does not bleed into another due to them having very similar concepts. After creating it and sending it to all collaborative persons involved, I would go ahead and see what everyone's thoughts and critiques were before sending it to a model or an agency.
Writing down sudden forms of inspiration has also been a huge help for me. Apps such as Evernote or even just notes on your phone help you keep together concise ideas as they happen on the go. I understand that carrying around an actual book can be impractical at times, but I can hardly think of a time that we, in this day in age go without our phones. I'd write down adjectives like "moody," "rain," "black and white," or "nostalgic"; terms that I can come back to at a later time and develop into a mood board.
Drawing From Other Art Forms
A visit to a local museum, watching a favorite movie and figuring out what makes you love it, or even music are also a great way to strike up great ideas. The late Helmut Newton frequented midday siesta's in which he'd listen to music and conceptualize ideas.
Finding the Right Model
Model Mayhem works by allowing different creatives the ability to upload an online portfolio along with a quick bit of information about what their work consist of, what they're willing to do and not do, as well as whether they work for free or commission. Compensation is known to differ depending on the size of a project and the person requesting it. I'd forewarn that when utilizing this website be aware that it is in good practice to filter through and create a link of communication with any you choose to work with, ensuring that you are on the same page in regards to pay as well as the work being created. This is to help keep hiccups to a minimum when it comes to projects and proper compensation, as mishaps can always come about on a forum where anyone can create, display, and execute projects rather easily.
Instagram is a great means of connecting with those interested in collaborating. Cautions in regards to Instagram would be making sure that the model is not already apart of an agency, which in such a case you'd need to go through the agents via email and call, requesting to work with their model. Going about this improperly by skipping through loopholes can ultimately end up with you blackballed by an agency, barring you from working with any more of their models. For the most part, agencies are rather good at letting you know if their models are not free, would require compensation, or are currently not needing any test work for their portfolios.
Date, Time, Location
You've now thought out your idea and found your model of choice. What's next? Setting up a date, time, and location for your photoshoot to now be executed. With this I'd keep in mind the weather and if it's fitting to the mood of your shoot, as well as a date and time that works for all those involved. Models tend to be rather busy during local fashion weeks, in which they can be unavailable. Also make sure that everyone has transportation to the location and necessary permits have been gathered so that these obstacles do not come about the day of.
After figuring these things out it is in good practice to formulate a call sheet that collects the date, time, location, model and agency, team members (MUA, stylist, assistant, hair), mood board, and miscellaneous notes that need to be known. Disseminating this is a way to make sure that everyone has approved of all previous information and is well informed for the shoot.
Time to Shoot
This brief rundown of things to do for preparing a shoot is a means of organizing thoughts, ideas, and people so that you can get the most out of your shoot day. This is not to say that you might not run into mishaps or obstacles when it is time to bring everything together. In truth, a lot of what we do as photographers is problem solving and improvising to get the best result. You also hold responsibility for controlling your set and the mood of those on it. No pressure, right? Just know with each passing shoot and obstacle cleared you gain a resilience to those that may arise in the future.