Hopefully, you packed everything the night before or even better:  you packed everything in the car and all you have to do is start driving.  But let’s get real..  You probably have to load the car!  So get to it.

iPad on Desk

iPad on Desk

I think using an electronic tablet is the best thing for document management.  Carrying a folder full of papers and you’re just asking for things to get lost.  And you sometimes have to carry multiple copies of forms.  It’s just a mess.  Take your tablet and you got it covered.  You get extra points if you have a cellular connection and can connect it to Dropbox.com or another cloud-storage system to retrieve other documents should you forget something.  Hey, it happens.

Okay..  Getting to the shoot…  So in addition to getting you and your gear to the location, here are some other ways you can do along the way with your car:

  • Picking up food or coffee.  Especially if it’s an early morning photoshoot. People WILL appreciate it!  Just make sure to ask a day or two before if anyone may want any.  It makes a difference when people feel they are being taken care of.  And make sure to bring straws for the model so they won’t screw up their lipstick.
  • Getting Supplies.  Okay, sometimes you find out something isn’t working correctly when doing your prep the night or two before.  Get extra batteries or other things you may need.  Like wipes to keep hands clean or get that blotch of mascara off the models eyelash.
  • Pick Up Others.  Hey, if someone lives on the way to the shoot…  Offer to pick them up!  Not only is it good ecologically, but this also goes to making people feel they are being taken cared for.  You can chat about the photoshoot.  Or have that coffee you picked up earlier!

With the models, I like to pay them before we get to location or before any prep starts.  Especially if I haven’t worked with them before.  Models go through the worst sometimes and I think paying them beforehand gives them some reassurement.  What I can do to develop more trust is a great thing with models.  They are more willing to open up during the photoshoot.  And that makes for better images.

Okay, so we’re all on location.  What’s next?  Well, I usually do a brief chat with everyone to go over any final questions or details.  Then I let everyone do their thing while I do mine.  As a straight guy, I usually leave the model-prep area..  Because that’s girl-time and chat starts.  I pop in there once in a while to make sure we’re still on schedule and chatting isn’t wasting time.  Hey, it’s gotta be fun.  But we gotta be on schedule too!

During this time, I’ve going over my gear.  Setting up gear and getting everything into place.  Maybe I have an assistant.  But unless there is a lot of carrying gear, I’m usually solo.  If I have more than one model, having an assistant is a good thing.  Otherwise, I’m good by myself.  Especially if we’re not moving much.

Right before you start to shoot.  I would go over your Production Sheet and any other notes you may have for the shoot.  Just to make sure you remember all the poses, looks and other goals you want to accomplish.  You’re usually all pumped up with adrenaline before the photoshoot and it’s REALLY easy to forget some things.

Behind the Scenes at the Beach with an Asian Swimsuit Model

Behind the Scenes at the Beach with an Asian Swimsuit Model

Okay, hopefully everyone is totally ready to go and shoot.  You’ve reviewed your notes and know what needs to happen.  This is the fun part that took days to plan!

So the photography is done.  Make sure:

  • Everyone is paid.
  • To ask everyone if there are any questions.
  • Get all wardrobe and gear that was used in the photoshoot.
  • Leave the location as good if not better than you found it.

While I leave the location spotless, I’m horrible about re-organizing everything back in my car.  I’m just in a hurry to leave the location and pretty much dump everything back in the car without the fear of getting anything damaged.  I don’t want to spend more than 30 minutes re-packing.  Folding up softboxes/domes takes the longest.  I think I have to succumb to 60 minutes.  And find a faster process.

So there we have it…  The day of the photoshoot.    Seriously, I think it takes a good 5 hours per hour of actual photography time to prep for it.  I need to keep better track of that to plan during the week.

The final part of the producing a photoshoot:  Post-Processes.  Stay tuned!

About the author

Ricardo Gomez is a Fashion Photographer based in New York City.

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