okay, so in the last few weeks, a lot of people that i know have openly told me that they just assume i show up and shoot. and it makes me want to hit my head against the desk at how much people underestimate the amount of work i have to do. i am not just the silly girl with the camera that shows up, triggers the shutter a few times, and goes home. i’m the one who has the set everything up and execute almost everything — from model to team to concept to post processing. so here’s the breakdown:
1. i book the model. sometimes it’s a test shoot (nothing fancy — just some photos to update my portfolio and the model/team’s portfolio). a lot of the times i’ll buy/return clothes or use a combination of my clothes and the models own, no hair/makeup necessary. it’s not a magazine submission so most of the time i won’t even pull together a team for this. often, though, it’s for a magazine submission.
2. if it’s for a magazine submission, first i’ll book the team, not the model. i have make sure that the people i book are right for the job. a lot of the times, a stylist, while great, just doesn’t have the specific aesthetic i’m going for. same with hair and makeup. i have to find the right people for the project (and also those who are willing to collaborate with me because not everyone is looking to do it). so, after some digging around, i have to find three people — hair, makeup, and styling. all of which need to be free that day and right for the shoot.
3. i’ll send out the moodboards, which is a series of images depicting the wardrobe, mood, and location that i want to shoot the story in. not only do i need to put together the moodboards myself (which can take a while of sifting through google, pinterest, and magazines), usually after i send them out, i’ll also call up my whole team and take some time to explain to them what i want. sometimes pictures just don’t cut it. i’ve had times where i sent out a moodboard, didn’t call to talk about it, and have a stylist show up with the complete opposite of what i want. everyone interprets a series of images differently, so i need to put in my extra hours and make sure they get it right.
4. securing the pull letter from the magazines. a pull letter is the the “commission” letter that magazine editors will give to photographers to give to their stylists. it’s a letter that states that the photographer has a very good chance of scoring the publication, which leads the stylist being able to get clothes from better designers (many of whom will only lend their clothes when a pull letter is provided). i can’t always secure a pull letter, so sometimes we have to go without.
5. THEN i’ll book the model (in the case of a magazine submission). this can be tricky, too. not all agencies are willing to lend out a model for a mere submission (many of them want a confirmed editorial, meaning that the magazine has guaranteed us publication before we’ve even shot the story, and that’s not easy to get), although with a pull letter more are open to the idea. once you narrow down to the agencies that are willing to lend a model out (which takes a lot of energy and rejection), you need to find the right girl. another long and tricky process — just as important as making sure your team is getting it right.
6. not often, but sometimes i’ll have to book a studio for the shoot, which i need to take into consideration my budget, availability, and needs.
7. finally shooting the damned story. most people don’t think it, but actual shooting is the easiest part of the whole process. we stay focused, play some music, and make sure that the positive energy is kept on set (which is SO important). i check up on hair/makeup to make sure i like it and then on styling to see if the outfits work for me. and then i shoot until i think i’ve got it, while the makeup/hair/styling jumps in every so often to fix something in the shot (i’m usually too focused to notice much else).
8. editing the story in a timely matter. this takes far longer than the amount of time it takes the shoot the story. i sit in front of my computer, glued to photoshop, getting every nick and detail right, from blemishes on the skin to color correction. in a good run, it’ll take me one week to two weeks.
so that’s it — the process of my shoots. it takes me around a month to plan, execute, and finish the whole thing, not including the time it takes to submit to different magazines.
so no, i’m not just the silly girl with the camera that shows up, take a few photos, and leaves.
far from it.