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 !