I don’t know if you’ve ever done a photoshoot before?
I had my first experience a few weeks back. You might have seen my excitable posts all over Instagram and Twitter… I’d never done one and so when the tim Tim Marner team got in touch, I jumped at the chance. Tim Marner are 'the best' creative agency in Manchester, they’ve got a really cool studio that looks like a pretty normal office block but when you enter it, it’s like a treasure trove of Alice In Wonderland type rooms, stairways and floorspace.
When I’d confirmed and we’d got a date in place, I started to get nervous and excited - I really didn’t know what to expect. When I got my call sheet through, I was amazed. I’d given the team a quick overview on what my blog was about (I’d suggested shooting images that I could then use on here), and they’d nailed it. I wanted to get across my ethos and attitude with food, health and fitness, so the word balance was thrown about a bit! The shot list I got sent back was adventurous to say the least; think donuts on my head, balancing wine and green juice and having a watermelon for a face.
However, like I said, it was my first shoot so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. As a beginner ‘model’ (although I would never call myself that..), I know I would have appreciated hearing these tips from someone who’d done it before, so I thought I’d impart my wisdom. If you’re thinking about doing a shoot / nervous about doing a shoot / interested to hear about a first timer’s shoot, grab a cup of tea and delve in…
I really cannot stress this piece of advice enough. This was without a doubt the thing I lacked the most. It’s also really hard to just ‘get’ confident if this is an alien environment to you (like it was for me). I’d say that in all honesty, two double g&t’s would have really helped here, but that won’t help you and is probably not socially acceptable. What I would say though, is (and without trying to sound controvertial), I found it a little bit comforting to try and put myself in the mindset of having had two g&t’s. I’m not talking slurring words or slut-dropping in the studio, but just that nice, comfortable feeling you have when you’re finishing drink number one after work on a Friday. You’re not self-conscious, you’re confident; you’re warm and know that you look good.
It’s so easy to take a ‘good’ photo of yourself, from the comfort of your bedroom or wherever. Like with a selfie, for example. You control the angle and lighting. You can do your make up a certain way, show the ‘best’ side of you, enhance things with a good bit of Valencia filter. All this narcissistic comfort is abruptedly taken away from you on a shoot - your make up is done a particular way, someone else is taking the photo, you’re moving around the floor at their direction. I’d urge you to discount ‘seflie-mode’ from the day and embrace having someone (a professional no less, don’t forget!) take your picture for you. It’s refreshing, to say the least.
So, from someone who sort-of regrets the outcome of their ‘natural’ shots because they just simply couldn’t relax (I don’t think they reflect the ‘me’ that I was too nervous / scared to be on the shoot - I wasn’t confident enough), please, take it from me - act confident. Act like you really absolutely love yourself and that you’re the best thing on this earth because it will only show up in the pictures as well earned confidence. Trust me.
NB: If you’re really struggling with the whole confidence thing when doing ‘natural’ shots, I found it so much easier / more comfortable doing shots where I had a prop (i.e watermelon, donuts), or a particular look - it helped me focus and I just instinctively revolved the shot around that, so I’d recommend adding in some props if you think you’ll struggle!
FORGET ABOUT THE ROOM
Forget about the people in the room; the photographer, the make up artist re-touching your lips, the team running about to make sure lighting is ok… I know this is hard. Believe me I do! But, leading on from point one above, try and do this as much as you can. Block the team out from being a group of people ‘looking at me oh my god’ and view them for what they are employed to do. The whole shoot will be so much better if you think transactionally, and not emotionally. The room is yours at that point, and the people in it are there to make it happen - they do this day in, day out, so don’t let them put you off :)
Photographs are a beautiful way of visually capturing who you are, in a particular moment. Is there a particular trait you want to show off? Perhaps there’s a certain way you want to be perceived from this photograph? It’s art, and thinking about it this way really helped me ease into the poses a lot more.
BRING MORE CLOTHES THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED
If you’re not being dressed for the shoot (that is, if the photographer isn’t bringing a costume for you), and you’re going to be wearing your own clothes, bring as many as possible. Bring more than you think is necessary. Kay had a real eye for pairing activewear that I wouldn’t usually go for, and having surplus clothing definitely helped when we had to move around looks and also provided a real platform for inspiration - the way certain clothes fit you can help mould and determine the poses and expressions in the shoot.
Not going to lie, I had a couple of good old spots on my chin on the morning of my shoot (thanks, gods of fate!). I was nervous (embarrassed?) about the girls doing my make up and also what they’d look like on film. I needn’t have worried. Your make up artist is there to hide unwanted blemishes and is working with camera lighting and the shoot theme in mind, so don’t worry if you think it looks a little full on. It also reassured me when I saw the raw pictures on camera that in fact you couldn’t see them and again when I was sent the final edits. It comforted me to know that ‘real models’ must face the spot / bad skin / bad hair day and we just don’t see that when we see glossy versions in magazines.
LAUGH IT OFF
Unless you’re a model, how often are you going to have a team (I repeat, team) of people, fussing over you - doing your hair (I love it when people play with my hair), chatting to you, making you feel really special, doing your make up etc? Embrace it! It’s so much fun jumping around, being a kid and doing something you’d never normally do - welcome it with open arms.
I definitely found the shoot challenging and sometimes (at first) uncomfortable, but by the end of the shoot I’d really relaxed into it and regretted being so self-conscious at the start. It pushed me out of my comfort zone, extended my boundaries and I can whole heartedly say that I look at pictures of myself differently now. I don’t think I’m as critical.
|Top and bottoms - MyProtein|
After just one day (and a few texts), I felt like I’d known Kay for years, she’s so nice. If I called Tim “wacky” he’d probably laugh or look at me with jokey disdain that I’m not edgy enough to come up with an adjective to suit his demeaner. I realise this isn’t doing him justice! He’s insane in front of the camera, the phrase work the room could not be more apt, he’s a baller and I love what he’s about. Patsy and Jackie put me at ease and were so easy to chat to. It was like being in the dressing room with two friends catching up over a coffee. As far as teams go, they’re definitely up there with the most dynamic and friendly.
You can see their write up of working with me, and more pics from the shoot by reading their blog, here - I'd love to know what you think :)
If you are considering doing a shoot I’d absolutely recommend booking in with Tim Marner. They specialise in fitness photography (how cool are these shots here?), but also do branding, video production, advertising, graphic design and build websites - they really are a talented bunch. It’s amazing what they can do with their studio to transform the space; I challenge you to give them a brief they can’t execute! Give them a cheeky follow on all the usual channels on @timmarner too.
Thanks again to all the crew, I’ll wear my Tim Marner snapback with pride!
HUGE thanks to MyProtein too, who sent me some amazing clothes to wear for the shoot - pictured above :) They've got some lush new clothes at the moment, including a gorgeous b&w marbled effect sports bra, which I'll be posting on Social soon - so keep your eye out.
If you have any other tips for a beginner on a photoshoot, please send them my way!