Photo shoots vary depending on the photographer and the subject, and while some photo shoots have their challenges, most photographers love what they do. Here’s a look at how a shoot might go for someone who specializes in family photography. Some of the details might be slightly exaggerated for comedic effect.
Several Weeks Before the Shoot
The client calls the photographer to inquire about their services and rates. Photographer quotes a price, and waits while the client processes the amount. The client may begin negotiation tactics, or they may just book the shoot. Once the photographer and the client are on the same page and in agreement about the price, the photographer schedules the client’s shoot.
A Week Before the Shoot
The client contacts the photographer to say the family saw an entire spread in their favorite magazine and they want to recreate parts of it. The photographer asks to see the pictures, and the client sends them over. After reviewing the pictures, the photographer informs the client that doing so would be extra due to the extensive set and lighting required. The client becomes frustrated and agrees to stick with the original plan of family shots in natural settings.
This scenario is rather common for family photographers. People don’t realize the amount of work that goes into photography. Many of them think it’s a simple matter of point and click, and they fail to take into account the subtle nuances of things such as set pieces and lighting.
Once the photographer and the client are back on the same page, the photographer emails the client helpful tips to prepare for the photo shoot. These often go unnoticed, but the photographer continues to try.
Day Before the Shoot
The photographer calls the client to confirm the shoot for the next day. Some clients panic and realize they forgot to mark their calendars and need to reschedule, some clients say they remembered the shoot was tomorrow, but something came up and they need to reschedule, and some clients just say they’re ready and will see the photographer the next day.
Incidentally, it is helpful to give photographers notice before requesting to reschedule a shoot. Once you book a session, the photographer can’t book someone else in that spot. They miss out on other opportunities, and last minute spots can be difficult to fill. Some photographers may even charge a fee if you reschedule at the last minute.
Day of the Shoot
The photographer wakes up and prepares for the day’s work ahead. Before leaving for the shoot, the photographer eats something. This was in the email sent to the client as it helps everyone look their best, maintain their focus, and it provides energy to make it through the shoot. Afterward, the photographer loads his or her equipment in the car and leaves.
Depending on the number of shoots scheduled for the day, as well as the complexity of each, a photographer may have a lot of equipment. If it’s an indoor shoot, then the photographer may need lights, and different cameras capture images differently so a photographer may have several cameras on hand. Upon arriving at the agreed location, the photographer sets up their equipment.
Next, the photographer goes over the plan with the client. This usually includes explaining why their child’s Transformer shirt is distracting to a family photo and suggesting another option, going over poses, and getting kids to show their smile. A photographer’s job is to be a people person, which sometimes means swallowing the aggravation of explaining things they sent in an email a week ago.
Now that everyone is on the same page, the actual photo shoot can begin. The photographer directs the family to their spots and tells them to smile. After the camera click, the youngest kid asks if he can go play now and the mother has to say no, they’re not done. Then the father looks at the photographer and asks about how long the shoot will take. The photographer explains the process again, and then resumes taking their pictures.
A good photographer wants to give families several options, so he or she may stage different poses. Of course, the majority of what takes so long is getting everyone to stand or sit up straight, face the camera, smile, look up, turn their head to the left, now to the right, now look straight ahead, no little Johnny, don’t pick your nose. Everyone stops so mom can wipe little Johnny’s fingers and help him blow his nose.
After an hour, the photographer is confident he or she has enough shots and thanks the family for their time. Unless the photographer and the client made different arrangements prior to the shoot, this is the point where the photographer usually asks to be paid. Some photographers are lenient and will collect after they deliver the images, but that’s not a typical practice. The client gathers payment while the photographer packs his or her equipment in the car. The payment is made and then the photographer lets the family know when they can expect to receive their photos.
Evening After the Shoot
The evening after the shoot depends on whether it was digital or film. If it was digital, the photographer uploads the images into Photoshop and edits them. Once the editing is complete, the photographer sends the images to the client in the previously agreed upon method. If film was used, the photographer either develops the film his or herself, or takes it to a professional lab for development. Once the photos are developed, the photographer delivers the images to the client. This process can take several days for larger shoots.
Although a photographer’s experience varies from shoot to shoot, those dealing with people all follow a basic format. It starts with scheduling the shoot, sending information and confirming details about the shoot, arriving for the shoot, collecting payment, and then editing and sending the photos. Everything that happens in between is usually comedic fodder for the photographer’s blog.