Organising Your First Photoshoot: What You Need To Know. Part 1.

When I started writing this post I never realised how much information I felt I needed to share, but when I finished and saw that my post looked more like a book than like a blog post I decided to divide it in several parts. In case you landed here directly, this is the part one.

After assisting 4 or 5 different photographers for a few months I thought that I should try and organise my very first shoot. If I wanted to be a fashion photographer I needed to learn from others but I also needed to learn on my own. Besides, as I have said in previous posts, I didn’t have a proper portfolio and I needed the images to create one as well. 

Looking back I must admit that I had no idea if I was going to be able to pull this off, but I was so determined to do it that I didn’t let the fear of failure hold me down. What was there to be afraid of, you may ask? Well, first of all, doing something for the first time is always a little bit scary. Second of all, I knew I had a huge responsibility in my hands: all the creatives involved would want images for their portfolios… what if after all that hard work my images sucked and they felt like they lost their precious times on my shoot? Well, there is always that risk, but as my husband said to me when I shared my thoughts with him: “but, what if the images are great?” Good point.

I decided to post a casting call on ModelMayhem, StarNow and PurplePort asking for creatives who wanted to collaborate on this shoot with me.  I reviewed similar casting calls on those websites to copy the most appropiate wording for mine and also to learn what were the things that I needed to take into account when organising a shoot. And the first thing that struck me was that I had no idea of the terminology used in this industry. So before posting one, I needed to figure out what most of the acronyms and concepts meant. I needed to do some research of my own.

TOG: short for photographer (Photographer ==> Photog ==> Tog)

MUA: Make Up Artist, the person who does makeup.

HS: Hair Stylist, the person who does hair.

HMUA / MUAHS: a person who does both Hair and Make Up.

Fashion Stylist / Wardrobe Stylist / Stylist: the person who will decide which clothes will be used, how will they be used, who will use them or how will the overall mood of the photos will be. Sometimes, they also provide the clothes, sourcing them from designers, brands or PR agencies.

Talent: the persons being photographed or filmed (models, actors, musicians). They can either be freelancers or come from an agency.

Location: where is the shoot taking place. Usually is either in Studio or On Location, which basically means outside a studio and can be Indoors, like at a house, a flat or a hotel room, or outdoors, like in a park, a road or a beach.

Call time: at what time everyone is expected at the location.

Wrap-up time: at what time everyone is expected to vacate the location.

Call sheet: email or document containing all the information for the shoot (date, location, crew, special instructions) that is sent a few days before the shoot so everyone is well informed of what is going on during the day of the shoot.

Submission: in some test shoots, the crew can decide that they will submit the resulting images to a publication (print or online) for self-promotion. It is important that the credits of the whole crew and of all the clothes used are included in the submission.

Moodboard: a moodboard is basically a collection of inspirational images that sets the aesthetics of the whole shoot. It can include samples of posing, styling, makeup, hair, model types, or any other additional information that helps everyone involved in the shoot understand how the final images will look like.

Use of the images: what are the images for (portfolio, submission to publication, commission, commercial or advertisement).

Model / Property / Agency Release: whenever you are photographing a person who is not signed to any agency, a model release has to be signed by that person giving the photographer permission to use the resulting photo in any way specified in the release. If the person belongs to an agency (model, actor, musician), the photographer needs to sign an agreement with the agency where the use of the images is specified. For locations, if you are working in a private property, the owner needs to sign a property release giving the photographer permission to shoot in that location.

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