Lessons from Behind the Lens at My First Big Photoshoot

My latest project is a series of photos representing different societal points along the gender and sexuality spectrums. This topic is exactly where I want to be headed with my work and on top of that, this project is a serious challenge for me. I hadn't really worked with models before, or serious lighting or backdrops. This meant I created a lot of internal pressure on myself to learn everyday and also to get it all right. As I researched the photo concepts, I also read and listened to anything photography and art, bathing my mind in beautiful visuals.

I also scheduled friends to come over every weekend and do practice photoshoots, so that I could learn how to work with models. My practice sessions gave me an intro to that, but I learned so much beyond that:

  • Giving direction is hard. I had a hard time focusing on the image, and also figuring out how to adjust poses while also continuing conversations.
  • Posing is hard work! I have a much greater appreciation for the confident risk-taking, physicality and visualization needed to be a good model.
  • Models need time to warm up and get in the right frame of mind. Use this time to build rapport and test lighting.
  • It is important to specifically put lighting on hair and get the details visible.
  • Take care of everyone working on the photos - provide fans, music, water and snacks. Take breaks!
  • My backdrop was way too small, use large backdrops.
  • Get the backdrop up as high and as wide as possible. This gave me so much more flexibility to try a lot of different positions.
  • For the photoshoot I really enjoyed having a vision in mind and bringing it to life. This was much easier than the practice sessions, which had no set poses and we had to figure it out through trial and error.
  • That moment, when it all lines up and you know immediately that you got the shot you wanted. There is no better feeling!

Here are a few fun shots from behind the scenes at the photoshoot: