Don’t Look Bad in Front of Friends and Family

A day out with the boys.

A photography shoot for friends. A photo shoot demands careful thought. When you know you will be doing shots for friends or family you want to get it right. Be prepared so you look good and perform well.

The key to shooting in front of people you know

So you are interested in photography! Before long you’ll be asked to take photos for family or friends. You may already have been asked – it happens to all of us. The impromptu shot is not too bad. It is more nerve-racking to do when you have been specially asked for an event, party, wedding, or important occasion. You don’t want to let anyone down. You certainly don’t want to look a fool because you fluff-up on the day. So how do you carry it off?

Approach your task with confidence, preparation and planning. Make sure all the bases are covered. Here is what you do…

Advance Preparation

Ask what is expected of you. You need to know…

  • How important is this?
  • What/who you will be shooting.
  • Who you will be working with/for…
  • When you will be doing it.
  • Where will you be doing it.
  • Why you will be shooting.
  • How you will do it (is there a brief?)

You can probably think of other questions to ask. Just, make sure you know what the shoot is all about.

If you don’t have any of the required skills, get online and find out what you need to know. Be clear about what’s needed and plan to cover your learning work with time for practice before the event. Leave ordering time for buying things and delivery too.

Leading up to the shoot

Finalise the equipment you need. Here is a preliminary list…
2 cameras; 2 flash units; Lenses, charged batteries (x4?); Memory cards; chargers; lights/stands; light/flash modifiers/reflectors; suitable clothing (cold or hot gear as appropriate); umbrella(?); contact/business cards; tripod…

Why two cameras and equipment? If one is damaged on an important event, and you quietly pull out another and carry on – the professional. Think how confident you will feel too. Access to only one camera? See if you can borrow one for the day. Otherwise do the best you can. I skipped over lenses. The ‘glass’ you need depends on the shoot. If you don’t have what you need, consider hire. The deals are pretty good for a weekend or a few days. If your contact considers this an important enough event they may pay for hire. Try to get the hire ahead a few days so you can try the equipment before the shoot.

Visit the location of the shoot in advance. You need to know about the shoot location…

  • What size is the location
  • How light/dark it is
  • What power provision
  • How many people can it hold
  • What are the rules (especially if a business)
  • Do you need location permissions
  • What’s the access/parking
  • Is parking near/far
  • What scope is there for your shots
  • Light and shady places
  • Natural backdrops available
  • What else will be put out (tents, food, disco, stage…)
  • Bbar times/licensing
  • Where can’t you shoot
  • Other things you need to know fo your event
Planning the shoot itself

Think out how you are going to handle the shoot. Don’t make it up on the day. You will not be creative and get all the shots you need. Do some sketch plans how you are going to make the best of the location. Pick several places to shoot. Pick places for groups or singles. Plan the main shots you want and their order – a professional approach.

When you have a plan check it through with your contact. It is important they know you have got it in hand. Also they will have confidence that you are going to do the job they asked.

The day before

Check all the equipment works, batteries charged, cards clean, everything packed, camera ready; lens cleaned and packed, pack lens wipes too. Make sure you have a route and maps addresses ready too.

The transport arrangements should be prepared and ready. Pack your kit to be ready to leave early. Review all your plans for the shoot. You will be more spontaneous if you already have a shoot plan in your mind. You may need to have a shot list as your main plan to follow. You should have your ideas and plans in order in your head. Don’t forget your wallet or money! Finally, give your friend a call. Check it is all OK and to reassure that you are ready.

On the Day

Dress for the occasion – everyone looks at the photographer. Look good, wear appropriate clothes.

You must arrive early to set up. So, leave early for the shoot. Check traffic reports beforehand. If you get there in plenty of time you will look and feel more professional. If you have setting up to to do – arrive an hour early. To just re-scope the location arrive half an hour early. Leave enough time to park too.

While you are traveling, review your plan in your mind. Try to relax if you are nervous. Its understandable but you will need to be ready for the fun! Visualise and mentally rehearse your shots while you travel.

On arriving report to your contact. Make sure they know you are there and get any ‘latest news’ Something always crops up on a shoot. You need to know changes in arrangements straight away.

Once you have all this in hand, you can set up. Then you are into shoot mode… off you go! You the professional… Be confident, follow your plan, make sure you enjoy yourself!

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