It’s almost summer and I was asked to photograph the summer campaign for Everyday Minerals. I’m always excited to work with them and this time around I wanted to document the process for those wondering how a shoot comes together. Of course each photographer and creative direction team has their own methods and those methods change between shoots, but for now this is how we do it with Everyday Minerals Cosmetics.
The month started with a phone call from the company and they asked for me to photograph the new campaign. We discuss the pros and cons for the last ad (Spring 2009) and they threw in a few ideas of how the new pictures should look. In many cases the client will tell you how exactly how to capture the images. In this case, the company knows my work and my style and they offer a direction but leave much of the creative on my plate (and the creative director).
One of the first things we discussed was the usage of a male model for this campaign. They thought adding a male could enhance the lifestyle pictures we shoot and of course we use two great girls in the ad too. Everyday Minerals does well in Europe, and it helps to have a beach look but there is a difference between a beach girl in Venice Beach to a beach girl in France. That means we pick more of a Heidi Klum face vs. Pamela Anderson (no offense Pammy, you are still very hot!). This time we decide to ask a few of our favorite agencies with proven records of great models (Photogenics, LA Models, and Ford) and sit through their pictures. We call each agency and let them know 1) What we are looking for 2) What the budget is 3) What the usage is for 4) When we want to shoot. The agency will send out a package of the models who would fit our criteria and make it easier.
Some agencies like LA Models use a great system where they have video of the model along with polaroids, cards, and their portfolio but all of the ones mentioned have a user-friendly format, which honestly makes it easier to visit their site. Making it easier for me, means I will probably view their selections more often than other agencies. Also like other photographers will tell you, if an agency has friendly bookers that is great. If they have less than friendly and unethical bookers, then the entire fleet of models lose out. I left out a not too shabby agency of GREAT models because the booker left me feeling a little blue last time. Sigh…
Once we rounded out the top choices for models, the location was next. Because Everyday Minerals is an all-natural, vegan, and organic mineral make-up line we thought the locations in Orange County would be a better fit than Los Angeles. In LA it’s harder to find open locations, big locations, and cleaner locations without billboard clutter or a high population. We’ve narrowed down the location of the shoot and it’s time to report to the client with our progress. The call will be …
1. Here is what we have in mind, this is the look and feel of the campaign
2. Here are our models we feel could represent your products the best way
3. Here is the location for the shoot
Next is finding inspiration and visual references and hiring your crew. Your crew is your right-hand, they are your team, they are your support system. It is important to value every single person on set, because without them the other person cannot be their best. I can take a great picture but if the hair is messed up, it’s useless. If the makeup is done wrong the entire ad is useless. If my assistant tweaked the light and it’s unflattering, it’s extra extra long hours in post. If the food was not good, we cannot be our best, etc… the list goes on but it’s very important to make every single member of your crew know their value. Did I drill this hard enough?
At the same time we flip through books, ads, and magazines. In most cases photographers and directors look for inspiration. That process is usually something like this:
(With Hair and Make-up): pulling out pages, ads, or media references like…”We want the hair to look like Eva Longoria in ________” or “I want the sexy look that Gwen Stefani had in ______ video”. We use these references because everyone can all pull inspiration from them. You have a similar conversation with the stylist, your assistant, etc… Everyone must be on the same page!
I hope that gives you an idea of what it is to plan a photo shoot. I simplified every step, but there is a lot more involved in it. For example, sitting with my creative director and make up artist yesterday we rounded out our top choices from 3 agencies. That process took six hours. Sure we stopped to eat several times and took breaks to talk, but it takes a lot of time to put something together. That’s also the perk of picking great people, treating them with respect, and having an admiration for each others work. You make work fun!
I should put up a video of the photo shoot once it is done. Very soon!