The day shoot seems like such a simple idea, you get your models together, head out and shoot. Easy right?
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What's easy to forget, is how much work really goes into something that sounds so simple. In Colorado, the absolute toughest part of setting up a shoot (and the one that is often overlooked) is planning for the weather. I use several different sites when it comes to planning, and truth be told, most forecasters are only accurate about 25% of the time here. The weather will change, and the shoot may not work the way you had hoped. Rain/Snow/cold weather when it's supposed to be hot.... all can affect your shoot. Here are the sites I trust most: NOAA and Snowforecast. A friend of mine does the Colorado Powder Forecast, which seems to be the most accurate site.
Check the weather updates twice daily, and call off the shoot if you must (last resort...) From there, once I have picked a day, I will call up and arrange as many athletes as I can. Since this is a commissioned shoot, I will be able to pay the athletes which will help them agree to shoot with me. Stock photography has certain requirements, and it is very important to let the athletes know what these are. First off, they must wear clothing that has little to no brand names, or logos. This helps shave down your editing time since stock agencies do not allow any branding.
Second, in all likely hood, the athletes will be friends of yours. Therefore, it is vital to the shoot that they know this is your job, and not just time for fun. Finally, they need specific details on all aspects of the day, a briefing on what you are hoping to accomplish, and how long the shoot is expected to last. Once you have given them all the information, make sure they are 100% planning on being there. If anyone is waivering, call someone else, you can't afford to lose the models!!
When planning out the shoot, it's important to come up with certain ideas for shots that you plan on capturing. I will be shooting skating tomorrow with four athletes, and would like to get some shots including all athletes in the image. One idea is to have one athlete arcing the top of the deepest pool, with the others sitting on the edge above him. I've planned many more mentally, and will make sure these shots happen. With a plan of attack, you can help guarantee a successful day shoot for your client.
Gear is the most important part of the shoot. Without it, you have nothing. Make sure to charge everything, bring backups of every part that could malfunction (batteries, flash, camera bodies, tripods, gaffer tape, memory cards). With a backup sitting in your pack, you don't have to worry about some odd malfunction, or the dreaded camera drop.... I will also carry small bungee cords for hooking my flash up to different places. Clean your sensor before you shoot and save yourself even more editing time later. Wake-up early to make sure you arrive at the shoot early, and set 2 alarms to guarantee you will be up when you are supposed to.
Finally, the model release. This is possibly the most important thing a stock photographer should always carry. Without it, the images are most likely unusable. I always carry plenty of releases and pens. I also have the athlete sign as soon as the shoot is done, and never try to get a signature later because it usually won't happen. It seems like such a pain to always get releases signed at first, but once you've done it a few times, you will see how simple it can be. I try to have everyone I shoot with sign, so that I can sell the images as stock after the client is done with them.
These are just a few tips for getting ready for your shoot, and I will be posting a follow-up after tomorrow's skate shoot. Hopefully these are helpful! Now's the time to start calling your friends, and setting up a shoot.