The best way to build up a portfolio is to set up your own shoots, may it be with a model or yourself. This can get very troublesome and tricky. I went through a lot of problems and complications when planning my own shoot. I wish to share my experiences so that you can avoid the same mistakes I made.
In this segment, I will go through the whole process I usually undergo to prepare for a photo shoot.
Brainstorm and Take Notes:
For all my shoots, I plan and conceptualize way ahead of time. I write down all my ideas on a moleskin notepad. Practice your mind to think conceptually. I try to base all my ideas from my own experiences to make my own work very personal. After a few sentences of my concept, I add some thumbnails just to help me visualize my compositions and how I want it to look.
Always have a concept in mind before a shoot. Do not just take random photos and add a concept later on. If you are new in photography, you will soon learn that just taking pretty photos will not get you anywhere. You need concepts.
Deciding on a Model:
After finalizing my concept, I choose a model that will suit the role of the character I have envisioned for the shoot. I usually ask friends because they are generally easier to work with. They are also much more comfortable with experimental shoots. Perfect for learning and adding pieces to your portfolio.
You should also be ready with backup models that you can ask at a short notice. But, if all else fails and none of your models show up to your shoot, try shooting some self portraits.
Finding a Location:
I find this one of the most difficult aspects of photography. Finding a location is very troublesome as there are so many restrictions involved. There are many places, especially in the Philippines in where using a DSLR is prohibited. I never understood the logic behind these rules. However, it is still best to check before hand. One tip would be to avoid private areas and stick to public locations.
Then there is also the problem of finding a location that would suit your idea. Again, this is where having friends comes in handy. When you ask around for a specific location within your friends or your parents, you’re bound to find one that can work.
However, The biggest tip I can give you regarding location is to scout your location beforehand.
Prepare your Gear:
The day before the shoot you need to make sure all your equipment is operational. Charge all your batteries. Clean your lenses. If you are using off camera flashes, make sure that they are in working order. If you are using a tripod, make sure that you have the dove plate. Pack all of the equipment you think you will need or might need. The more equipment you have, the more versatile you can be. However, that also means the more things you need to carry around
You are more prone to lose your equipment if you have a lot of bags. So try to fit all your equipment in one or two bags.
Make a Checklist:
Create a checklist of all the equipment that you think you will need. This checklist will come in handy during the day of the shoot to make sure you have everything but also to make sure you don’t forget anything from the shoot.
You need to consider transportation for you and your model. Set a meeting place and time (set it earlier than your imagined call time to make sure everyone gets there in time). Make sure that you set the time according to the amount of light you want from the sun (if shooting outdoors).
Bring an extra amount of money just for emergency. It’s not an essential for a photo shoot but it can come in handy.
You also need to figure out if you need help from other people, especially if your camera gear is quite heavy to keep carrying around by yourself.