Ok, this post is going to be a quite long one, I’d love for you to give it your time and have a little read about something quite interesting…. what happens ‘behind the scenes’ of a photo shoot.
As a photographer, who puts A LOT, if not all of my spare time into my photography, I find one misconception about photography niggles me more than any other….and that is when people seem to think that as a photographer… you turn up to a shoot, you click a button a few times, then you go home a magically produce 20 images for them in 5 minutes.
No…..No………No, I WISH it was that simple.
It’s a lengthy process, a lot of work.
In this post I’m going to talk about the process from the beginning, the moment I sit down and plan the shoot, the placement, the poses, the angles, the settings I’m going to use, “oh wait…what if it’s sunny and not cloudy”, there’s so much more that goes in to a ‘simple’ shoot and I’d love for you to see it from this side of the lens. 🙂
So from the very beginning….
OVERALL IMAGE PLANNING: I will be thinking from the get go, what I’m trying to create, the whole image, what do I want it to look like? Like a blank canvas un-painted, I will be painting with my imaginary brush In my mind, slowly building up layers of the final image I want to achieve. When I know exactly what I would like to produce I will move on to….
LIGHT: I need to know what I’m working with…Will I be outside? – Natural light is a photographers dream & I try to use it as often as possible. (I do have a mini studio set up – which you will see further into the post.) As soon as I know what lighting I’ll be shooting in I will then think ‘what camera settings will work best?’ with the light I’m shooting in.
Photos by me. Left = Artificial light / Right = Natural light
SETTINGS: Now that I’ve established I will be using (lets say in this instance – artificial light. I need to now work out what settings will get me the best quality image. Something that looks professional, something that people will say ‘WOW, that’s amazing’ when they see it. Those are the words all photographers want to hear. 🙂 I will work out what aperture will work best in these lighting conditions, ‘do I want depth of field in my image? a nice blurry effect?’ One thing a lot of photographers, including myself have to learn is getting the aperture and shutter speed to work together. You don’t just ‘click’ the button and it’s done. You will be constantly shifting the aperture and tweaking the shutter speed until you get that effect you have been looking for. I would say as a standard starting point with my studio set up I would use an aperture between f/3.5 & f/4.5 & a starting shutter speed of about 1/320 *IMPORTANT NOTE* I also use external flash in MY set up. This is a GREAT way to bounce light against a white backdrop and give your image that OOMPH you are looking for! (READ ON TO SEE MY EXAMPLE IMAGES) 🙂
Quick Tip: Keep your ISO as low as possible! I TRY to keep it at 100/200, in a studio set up, with some external flash, this will be fine. High ISO = Grainy images – no one wants a grainy image. 😉
Poses / Placement: So, I now know, what light I’m shooting in, what camera settings I’ll be using. Now, I’ll be thinking (depending on whether I’m shooting a person, an animal or a product) ‘How am I going to place it/ what poses are best for this person, what do I envision the final image looking like?’ For me, getting the setting right is incredibly important, BUT a person who looks uncomfortable in a pose, won’t make for a great photograph. A product that doesn’t show off that product’s amazing detail, won’t sell it. Positioning is so important, you need to work with the space you have, decide what crop you will finish with etc etc it all plays a crucial part.
Example Image: I wanted this little one to fill most of the frame, a nice close crop to make a simple portrait.
Random TIP: When shooting people / animals – Aim to focus on the eyes! Sharp eyes make a great image. 🙂
So now, we are almost there, I know what light I’m shooting in, what settings I want as a starting point, the type of poses / product placement I will be trying. It’s TIME TO SHOOT. This is what I’ve been waiting for, all my planning comes down to this point. I know what I’m working with, I know what settings I will use, I know what positioning I want….then *SNAP* I take a photo, I look down at the screen with a mixture of emotions, excitement AND dread…. ‘Have I done it?!!?’ YES!!! You may or may not know this feeling, but when you see the image EXACTLY as you envisioned it, minimal editing needed, right in front of your eyes….there is no better feeling. 🙂
Here’s some behind the scene pictures that I threw together for this post:
I knew I was going to write this post, I thought to myself, ‘I’ll use my mini studio set up for this one, I want to create something commercial looking, a nice product photo that I could imagine seeing in a magazine, on a website or in a shop. ‘
I put a recent Christmas present to use 😉 – Cologne.
Basic set up: I knew I wanted my product on a white background. A nice clean shot, I use 2 small lamps either side of the product which gives it a nice amount of light. (The external flash does the rest)
Camera equipment wise I like to use my Canon, with a 50mm 1.8 lens – external flash as well (as I’ve said a fair few times).
A few test shots and white balance checks, then I’m away. THAT shot, that I was looking for came about only 3 ‘clicks’ into my shoot & I love to share with you that absolutely minimal editing was used. This just shows that good planning can save you so much time……Here it is!
Settings: ISO 200 F/3.5 / SS: 1/320.
I envisioned the type of image you would see on a website, a shop poster or in a magazine. I achieved exactly what I was looking to, what do you think?
‘Perfume club’ professional Image.
Time to wrap this up, if you’ve made it this far, I give you a BIG high 5 and thank you for reading a little bit of what it’s like to be behind the camera, a little bit of how you can save stress for yourself as a photographer, by planning and knowing exactly what you would like to produce…and If you’re one of those people who thinks that we ‘just click a button’ and it’s done, I hope I’ve showed you otherwise. 😛 – I haven’t even touched on printing, money to time ratio, equipment costs etc etc etc 😉
Thanks for reading….. 🙂