Getting The Most From Your Shoot - Pt. 2
by Vic Wahby
The Walk Through ::
Before your photographer has even unloaded, it’s helpful if you have thoughts on the shot sequence yourself. This is ideally determined by the sun’s influence in each room, more so than convenience. (See Part 1 for complete info).
Once your photographer has unloaded, he may ask, “What room is ready to go?” If you’ve pre-determined your shot list, then you know what to say. But, if circumstances have hindered or prevented this planning phase, a walk-through is clearly the best course before beginning.
The goal of the walk-through is first to determine the scope of the shoot so the pace can be set accordingly. Are you after just a few photos, or a dozen? Then, see how the sun is already interacting with each room so shots can be sequenced to take advantage of anticipated natural light. Getting on the same page as to shots needed and the best shooting sequence is the beginning of a great session.
A Matter of Perspective ::
You’ve done your walkthrough and a rough sequence of shots is planned. Let’s suppose a living room overall photo is first up. What can you do to make the most of it? Should you stay or should you go?
The most important consideration for ANY photo is unquestionably camera angle. It determines what will show and what won’t. What could be more important? So, before taking the first picture, it’s really a must to be part of the conversation until the creative team agrees on the ideal perspective.
When discussing perspective, I like to see where an interior designer wants to stand in the room. This is often the perspective that says it all, or at least that attracts her most. If you find yourself standing in one part of the room, and your photographer is setting-up the tripod in another, it’s time to, well, ‘assume the position.’
Take it from Polly Mellon, Vogue Magazine editor who I had the good fortune of watching work on dozens of Vogue shoots when I was a lowly photographer’s assistant in the ‘80’s. Peer from behind the camera and look at the scene, right over the shoulder of the photographer if necessary. You’ll see everything as the camera does. Closing one eye is also helpful, as it flattens the perspective. Assure it’s a perspective you approve of. Then, look for composition, furniture and rug positioning, draperies and artwork, and visual “collisions.” After adjusting things, return to behind the camera and look again. You’ll be working like a Vogue editor.
First Impressions Mean Everything ::
Shooting to a laptop, or “tethered” as photo-geeks call it, means you’ll see each shot on a large laptop screen as it’s made, instead of the camera back. This is a huge help and once you’ve had the luxury, you won’t want it any other way. You’ll be able to really confirm the composition is working and everything looks as it should. You can confer with your photographer on potential improvements, and hone the result.
It’s beneficial to know that the software displaying the photo on said laptop is most likely the same editing package your photographer will use for most of the post-processing. (“Post-processing is, or should be, an artistic process of polishing the photo in myriad of ways using digital software tools). Using location time to do a lot of “post” isn’t practical, but when the vertical angles converge, the color balance is off, and cropping seems necessary, knowing that these adjustments take just moments to alter can be useful. Ask to see the photo with basic adjustments if at all uncomfortable about what you’re seeing on the screen. You’ll have a clearer picture.
Your Presence is Requested ::
OK, you don’t want to be a pest. Naturally. But, I’d venture that most photographers would prefer a patiently attentive interior designer to one that has other priorities. This doesn’t mean you have to be at his side the whole time by any means, but keep these key involvement opportunities in mind:
Your Key Contributions:
1. Assure your design looks as it should, if at all possible, before beginning.
2. Arrange and neaten window treatments, pillows, flowers, etc., or plan to do it as necessary with each photo without request.
3. Observe the light as it transitions throughout the day, and pre-determine when to shoot at least the primary spaces with sunlight.
4. Consider your preferred perspective for each shot and share your thoughts. (See tips in Pt. 1)
5. Look for and avoid collisions in décor from the camera’s perspective.
6. Check the laptop screen and ask for any adjustments that would help you gain confidence, instead of relying on your imagination.
Every photographer wants to please their client, and your ideas and participation will be more than appreciated – they’re essential. During a shoot for a magazine, an art director would probably be 100% present the whole time. Even if you have other rooms to prep while your photographer works, or must converse with the homeowner, knowing the key times to offer input is beneficial. Viewing shoot-day as a creative collaboration ensures pictures that are not only attractive, but that also show your work as ultimately they must.
(Please feel free to share this article. Comments and feedback are also appreciated).