Shoots with Unplanned Results

Hey guys! I tried to title this one as judiciously as possible haha. Back when you guys were all new and not as great as you currently are, how did you handle shoots that didn't come out as expected? On a recent shoot I tried out something a little elaborate but it didn't come out as planned, for a variety of reasons. It was just a TFP gig trying out a concept, but I'm not too pleased with the results. So I had some questions, including but not limited to:

- Have you ever re-shot the same concept, with or without the same model? How did you approach that in either situation?
- Would you let anyone on the team (model, hair, MUA) know that you didn't get what you wanted? I'm wondering if saying that will just make them see the worst, as opposed to being maybe nonplussed or actually liking it if I hadn't said anything
- Have you ever just not released any of the photos? Seems ill-advised, just figured I'd ask if anyone's done that

Any other tips/experiences would be helpful :)

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5 Comments

Peter House's picture

This happens to me still. Once in a while I like to do creative shoots that push the envelope of what I know how to do. I like to challenge myself and overcome obstacles. I'm not always successful though, and sometimes I fall short. I think that as long as you go into a project with the entire team understanding there is a risk of things not panning out, it is fine.

To answer your questions:

1. Yes I have re-shot concepts, but always with a different model. If I shoot with the same model, it is always a fresh look. I honestly dont have any good reasoning for this though. Perhaps I just don't want the bad mojo from the previous work to follow me.
2. As I mentioned earlier, I think it can be helpful to be up front with everyone. It can be a bit of a hit to your ego, but I notice a lot of us have this "fake it till you make it" mentality, and it even happens on TF shoots. It's good to be in control of your set, but understand everyone there is donating their time and materials. If you are experimenting and there is a chance things may not work, just tell everyone.
3. I think we are our own worst critics, and as soon as you understand that what YOU look for may not be what the other team members look for, you will gain a sense of healthy detachment from your images. You dont have to use anything for your own port, but in a TF situation, at least show your team some proofs, and see if there is anything in there THEY may want.

Hope that helps a bit. :)

Awesome words yet again, thanks for the insight!

Chris Adval's picture

My responses are based on personal projects either paid creatives or TFP

- Have you ever re-shot the same concept, with or without the same model? How did you approach that in either situation? RE: Depends how complex the concept and depends how many creative’s was involved and can be involved again. Plus how easily accessible those creative’s can be if interested again. I got a local male model I work very often with to test out new techniques with so he's fine with reshoots to help me out for I can master those techniques with him as he does get very good shots from me when they come out according to plan.

- Would you let anyone on the team (model, hair, MUA) know that you didn't get what you wanted? I'm wondering if saying that will just make them see the worst, as opposed to being maybe nonplussed or actually liking it if I hadn't said anything. RE: Depends if you have a time limit or not, if you know you're not getting what you planned if there is time to make any adjustments to those changes like lighting or environment, wardrobe, etc. if at all possible do the changes if its like hair/makeup and you don't have time nor flexibility to make those changes with hair/makeup creatives then accept what you got and change other areas to excel and bring something great, even if its not exactly the same as what you planned but having something is better than nothing is somewhat better than nothing just make sure its still great quality images, something better than nothing is not exactly the course of action just ensure its still amazing just different direction if you know what I mean.

- Have you ever just not released any of the photos? Seems ill-advised, just figured I'd ask if anyone's done that. RE: Yes, but generally its very risky as you've wasted someone elses time and could risk losing that contact even if you offer a reshoot, at least most of the time, in rare instances you may find someone whom is very nice and understanding but I strongly recommend working with much more local creatives who didn't invest as much time or in some cases money to the shoot.

Thanks as well :)

Kendra Paige's picture

I may be parroting a lot of what Peter has already said, but I thought I'd contribute some thoughts on this.

1.) I have reshot the same concept, and have done so with the same model, as well as with a different model. It all comes down to what it was that made the shoot unsuccessful. In one instance, the issue was make up and hair styling, and was a situation where the MUAH was brought in by the client, so my input was limited. I shot again with the same model and my own creative team, and had wonderful results.

I believe that honesty is important, but so is a degree of political savviness. Providing constructive feedback to a member of your team is something that requires a lot of tact, as it can improve some relationships and destroy others. The important part is to decide what caused the shoot to fail, and deciding what could have been done to avoid that. If the issue is the model, then reshooting with the model is obviously not the proper course of action.

2.) This is a situation that requires delicacy, as I mentioned above. As the photographer, you're the director on set, so it should be within your control to prevent a shoot from being unsuccessful. That being said, there are so many aspects of a shoot that decide its success, so it all comes down to the relationship you have with said members of the team. If you inform them that you didn't like the images, they may automatically blame themselves, or be frustrated if said concerns were not voiced to them during the shoot itself.

3.) Absolutely make sure to give your team something for their troubles. For a TF shoot, they have given up their time and talents (and sometimes usable product) in exchange for images, so denying them that is the same as denying them compensation. As mentioned by Peter, what you like about an image may not be what your make up artist or wardrobe stylist likes about an image. If you're not wishing to sign your name to the image, just don't post it on your social media or portfolio, but be sure to deliver them to those who gave you their time.

I will say that there have been quite a few instances where I disliked an image, and it became one of my most well-received. Sometimes you never know.

I hope this helps!