What is a photo shoot?
A photo shoot can also be called an “assignment”. It is worth noting though that an assignment can be more than just a photo shoot, or not one at all. It could be a “cat walk” assignment (usually called runway) or a “promotional” assignment (where models stand about smiling a lot).
Always make sure that you know what your assignment actually is. You can do this by looking at the brief which you will have been given. North West Model Agency will always give their models a briefing sheet before the undertake a job.
One important point which a lot of models fail to consider is the number of people involved in a photo shoot. It is unlikely to be just you and a photographer. North West Model Agency suggests you expect at the very least three people.
Generally speaking the more senior the photographer the more assistants they will have. The assistant photographers will be in charge of making sure the equipment is set up correctly and will sometimes do ‘test’ shots to make sure the lighting is correct before the proper shoot. There can be more than one technical assistant on a larger shoot.
As well as the photographer there is likely to be the person who is commissioning the shoot, or a representative from the company. They are unlikely to get too involved in what is going on, but bear in mind they are the people paying the wages. What they say, goes.
Time is money in the modeling world, and it is in the interests of the commissioning party to get the best shots from the models in the smallest amount of time. This will have the effect that most of the models for the day will not be staggered i.e. they will all be milling about with stylists.
If you decide to take a chaperone, ensure they do not interfere with the shoot and they do not get in the way. If you are unhappy with something (which you should not be, having read the brief) inform whoever is in charge. It would be career suicide to allow a chaperone to get into an argument with anyone, bear this in mind if you think taking a girlfriend or boyfriend along with you. They are there to make sure you are safe and take you home, not to argue with any of the staff or get in the way.
The Photo Shoot Brief.
North West Model Agency will always produce a photo shoot brief for their models. This is not something all agencies do, and it is certainly unlikely that any work you find yourself will provide a photo shoot (or assignment) brief sheet.
The photo shoot brief will determine what the shoot is for, its outcome, the location and contact details of the person in charge or assigned liaison officer. North West Model Agency use a pro forma briefing sheet which will be filled in for you. You will also need to sign it to say you have understood the brief.
This way all parties know what to expect and the photo shoot will go smoothly and in a professional manner. North West Model Agency’s reputation is based on three core principles: Gold Standard, Professional Conduct and On Time. We expect all our models to adhere to these principles and North West Model Agency in turn treat the models to the same standards.
Where can they be?
Photo Shoot – “The Studio”
Photographers generally need an area where they can control light. The best way to do this is to use a full service studio. Studios can range from the very small (think a small lounge in a house) to the massive (think aircraft hanger).
Generally most shoots will be in a studio somewhere in between the two. A lot of older buildings in cities have been turned into photographic studios as they are cheap and have a large amount of space.
Within a studio there is likely to be a white room. This is literally a room which is white and allows the photographer to get quick shots without any backdrops spoiling the view. Most glamour modeling shots will be taken in a studio like this as it is easier for the photographer / editor to edit the finished photograph. Think “Zoo” or “Nuts” cover. White rooms are also good for test shots for Fashion photography before going outside on an expensive shoot. They allow the photographer to see how good the fashion items look on the model.
Studio’s can contain lots of other types of room, but the white room is generally the stock and trade as it allows backdrops to be brought in.
If you are doing body part modeling this is almost always done in a studio with speicficallly controlled lighting.
Photo Shoot – “On Set”
Set modeling lies somewhere between studio modeling and outside modeling. Usually this will be in an inside location, but not actually a professional studio. The reason for this as while a studio environment is ideal to control light sources, it is not always practical to try and build a set in a small studio given the time and cost this would incur.
The photographer / director will have to make a judgement call about using a location. The lighting is not usually as predictable as a studio but you can still control much of what is needed using reflection boards and lighting rigs.
On set modeling can be used for literally anything. From a photograph for an IKEA catalougue to a sexy glamour shoot in a fancy hotel. The list for set photography is endless, and will largely depend on the reason for the shoot.
A disadvantage with set photography is the locations are not designed to have large numbers of technical and model personnel in one space. The photography may also be slower and more frustrating if various shots need to be taken in various areas all the equipment will need to be moved.
Photo Shoot – “Outside”
As any professional photographer will tell you, natural sunlight makes for a superb shot. Natuaral sunlight however is not a variable which is easy to control; this makes out-door shoots harder than their studio or on set counterparts.
Be prepared for long waits and cancelled assignments if the weather turns bad. Also remember to wrap up warm if it is cold, having organized freezing photo shoots in Liverpool’s Albert Dock straight after an assignment in the Liverpool Echo Arena North West Model Agency suggests taking a warm coat every time.
Any photographic or promotional material coming out for summer will probably have been taken at least in the winter. Those happy looking models on a beach playing volley ball in this seasons sports gear may well have been freezing. It is not always glamorous to be a model and quite often it can be boring if you’re forced to sit around for long periods of time.
It is worth remembering that you can literally get sent on an assignment anywhere. The best way to think is if someone has been there, they might want a photo shoot there. While it would be great fun to spend time in Antigua on a Glamour Shoot, or Milan on a Fashion assignment, most shoots will be studio and UK based.
Photo Shoot Preparation
The amount of preparation you will have to undertake will depend on the brief. Generally speaking photo shoot preparation takes numerous forms:
- Make sure you get to the shoot early.
- Always take an umbrella. If you have had your hair done, the rain will quickly undo it.
- If female, take some make-up. You never know if the stylist will turn up.
- Phone the photographer / agency if you are going to be late.
- Do not get your hair cut before the shoot unless the shoot organizers know about it (or you are doing a body part shoot).
- Take bottled water with you and lunch. Keeping hydrated is important!
- There can be lots of sitting about doing nothing so take a book. Avoid MP3 players as you will need to be listening out to when your call comes in. Missing this will only frustrate the technical crew.
Will I get paid?
This is the age old question which we have covered in other articles. North West Model Agency will always agree a fee with you before you take an assignment. There are times when a fee is not appropriate, but you will know in advance.
It is North West Model Agency’s promise to you that you will get paid where agreed (in the same way that you promise to turn up to the shoot on time with a professional attitude).
Not all work is paid work. If you are starting out modeling many models will do free photography to build up their portfolio. This has pros and cons. Remember that a “free” photo shoot may actually end up costing YOU money depending on location. Also consider what happens if the photographer does not turn up or they decide not to give you the prints?
While it may seem like a cheap and easy solution, going into modeling without an agency such as North West Modeling Agency it may actually lead you to losing money and reputation.
What will the photos be used for?
The first question anyone going into modeling must ask themselves is “Am I comfortable with my parents / sister / gran seeing the photos I am going to have taken”? If the answer is “No” you’re in the wrong business, and this article has just saved you a whole lot of heartache.
Unless you are a top model it is very unlikely you will be able to dictate what will happen to your photographs. This is usually the contract you enter into: you get paid, the photos will be used for whatever purpose they have been intended. They may even be sold onto a 3rd party or licensed.
While it is great to think that your photo will appear on the front cover of Vogue, it is worth having a think about some of the other publications they may appear in, including online ones. Basically once it’s out there, you do not have any control what happens to it.
Is it safe?
Always make sure you know where you are going and how you are going to get back.
The brief North West Model Agency will give you will have this information on, but many private shoots do not have the same regard for their models safety. As assignments can last all day it is possible that late night travel will be in order. Even if you have your own transport, make sure you park in a well lit area as close to the assignment venue as possible and let someone know where you will be and what time you are expected back.
Photo Shoot Conclusion
You should find photo assignments for all types of modeling fun. It’s why you’re doing it right? Saying that as with any job the hours can be long, and the pay might not be much especially when you are starting out. Seeing your professional taken picture in a magazine or on a funky website however takes a lot of beating, and most models just do not get that far. Make sure you are represented properly and you know what you are going to be doing. If you are interested in becoming a model, get in touch with North West Model Agency. www.northwestmodelagency.com