My First Photo Shoot With a Model


posted on 28th of march, 2013

First Photo Shoot with a model:

Well, I’m certainly glad to get my very first people shoot out of the way, but I did make a few mistakes ...AND it was quite a learning experience. I’m hoping that this blog will reinforce (to myself) what I need to do to elevate my second shoot to a more productive and professional level. I’m also hoping to pass on valuable information to anyone else wanting to venture into the “people shoots” business...

This first photo shoot consisted of a 9 year old female model and 3 hours of shooting more than 250 raw photos with about 20 that made the cut for stock photography. I’ll go through the entire shoot and then break it down into a simple, easy-to-read checklist. Here’s what went right.... and wrong:

It’s 1 o’clock p.m. and my 9 year old model is dressed and ready for the shoot. We head into Mudplucker Studio and my model starts to look at the props (and even play with them) as I hurriedly start moving lighting into position. I’d rehearsed this in my head many times, but somehow the imaginary checklist I’d always had available in my mind just did not exist in real life. That was my first mistake, not having a detailed checklist (workflow) to mark off line items as they were done.

We filled a couple of beakers with colored liquids, got set up and started on the “lab shots”... I was so into the shoot that it never crossed my mind that i forgot to have my model hold the “white balance” grey card so that I could get a shot of it for setting custom WB in post processing in my Canon DPP raw conversion software. That was mistake number 2.

I started out with my camera on a tripod but quickly realized that a hyper, fast moving 9 year old wasn’t letting me get any use out of the tripod anyway, so I instantly decided today was going to be a “handheld day” to get as many shots as possible. On top of that, I broke down and gave up using manual focus and let the camera auto focus take control with my camera set in manual(M) mode, adjusting my AF focal point depending on where my model was framed in the pics, focusing on the eyes of the model. No use of a tripod at all today and using auto focus only (not even one single manual focus shot the whole day) equals mistake number 3 (You set the tone and pace, not your model).

Using my 50mm 1.8 prime lens meant that no image stabilization was available. I wanted a low ISO (200 max), short enough DOF to keep my walls slightly out of focus in this small studio, and that left a super fast shutter speed out of the question when coupled with the lighting plan i had setup for today (hey, on the plus side i did get the lighting pretty much how i wanted it, considering that i wanted to keep it fairly simple for this first shoot). Bottom line, MANY more shots thrown away than I would have liked due to being just a little too much out of focus to fix with the “high pass” in Photoshop.. or with any other software method for that matter. When it’s just plain ol’ out-of-focus, it’s just out-of-focus, and you have to move on to the next file !

When we moved from the lab and classroom wall over to the window side of the room I once again neglected to get a photo of my model holding the “grey card” for setting white balance in PP. (It was needed because the lighting changed) That was a repeat of mistake number 2....

Fast forward to the end of the shoot and we both felt like things actually went very well. We had loads of fun and took lots and lots of pictures. My model still has no idea that i made any mistakes at all because she is much too young to deal with headaches and problems. I’m pretty sure that she’ll want to know more about why we now have a “checklist” and also why we keep taking pictures of a silly “grey card” on our next shoot though ... I’ll recap the successes and failures of the day. Success gets a YAY!! ......... while a failure gets a BOO!! ...... and then I’ll assign myself a final grade for this first shoot.

No checklist or workflow sheet: BOO !!
NO preplanned poses or compositions BOO !!
Came with preplanned concepts YAY !!
NO shots of grey card for white balance BOO !!
No tripod or manual focus shots BOO !!
Lighting was pretty decent YAY !!
Model ended the day very happy YAY !!

So I finish with 4 BOOS and only 3 YAYS....... On a positive note i did manage to get 18 stock photos online from the 3 hour shoot. I also see tons of room for improvement in all aspects of the shoot, including lighting. I expect much better results from future shoots and I’m thankful to have this first one out of the way. We decided not to do clothing changes on this first shoot on purpose just to keep things moving.
FINAL GRADE FOR THIS SHOOT is a C (average: could have been better, could have been worse)

Once I get a final checklist constructed I'll make it available to anyone that wants or needs it. Thanks for reading !




Comments (9)

Posted by Tamaraspence on April 27, 2013
Well, that is a very cool and detailed experience about the photo shoot. I must admit that photo shoot teaches you a lot of new things that can only be learnt by doing it practically. Thanks for sharing the article/experience. insurance claim lawyer
Posted by Cousy86 on April 12, 2013
Cool Blog!My first expirience with child was shooting 5 months born baby,but she was very interested what i'm doing,and always was looking(almost always looking) in the camera!
And your the Photos are very good!Thanks for sharing!
Posted by Cleaper on April 04, 2013
Interesting blog - thanks for sharing your experience! Well done with your shoot, I think you got some good results.
Posted by Inyrdreams on March 30, 2013
awesome job and you are on your way. what a cutie too. talk to me on FB and I can give you model tips if you have questions.. lol I had a full time studio for years but you dont see that in my portfolio due to lack of copy rights! now its just lack of space.. darn sometimes I miss my large camera room!
Posted by Peanutroaster on March 28, 2013
Good job, you learned a lot! A list of concepts is a good thing to have at ready and be ready to throw them out the window too if things start going bad.
Posted by Parkinsonsniper on March 28, 2013
Well done for your first try. children is not easy to control during a session :) keep shooting...you are on the right way my friend.
Posted by Miraclemoments on March 28, 2013
I think it went well MP...besides the white balance error the lighting seems good to me. I always have all these ideas in my head about poses etc and when the day comes I have a brain fart and forget everything.

What I have noticed with kids is this...ISO 400, no tripod and they set the pace...hahaha..constricting the little ones to poses and what YOU want them to do makes for strained smiles and weird looking faces.

I almost always use autofocus...just so much easier and just select the focus point as you did. When using autofocus it enables you to at least shoot a series of 4 or 5 shots rapidly when that model starts to giggle. Those make the best shots.

All in all...well done!!! 18 files online is a lovely increase.
Posted by Elianehaykal on March 28, 2013
C is not bad for a first-ever shoot :) Thanks for sharing!
Posted by Clearvista on March 28, 2013
Well done. Seems like you got some great photos and also learned a lot in the process. I am sure each time for will get a better grade to give yourself. Very interesting and enjoyable blog -thank you.



Comments (9)

This article has been read 882 times. 19 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Mudplucker.

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