Steps to Planning Your Location Shoot!
I am going to guess that every photographer and model dreams of one day traveling to some exotic locations for shoots, which isn’t unreasonable! It’s part of the job right? ????
OK just maybe traveling to exotic places for photo shoots isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time but for those of us who love it I thought that I would share some of my tips with you. Over the now 30 years I’ve been shooting I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to travel all over the world photographing beautiful women.
And I’ve even been fortunate enough to be able to book and schedule my own location shoots. Just a few short years ago I used to schedule shoots to some exotic location every year and pick about ten random women to go with me to model for me.
In doing that I have learned a great many things that I will share with you now.
Deciding Where To Go:
The first step is deciding where you’re going to travel to in order to do your shoot. For some people that may just be a different state or even city. That’s quite a bit more simple of course. But you have to figure that out first.
Knowing that will help you decide who you need to approach and how to plan for culture, customs, and any other things that you may need to know. I discuss some culture related items in coming posts. But once you have gotten your destination figured out and locked in you’re ready to move to the next step.
By locked in I mean you have your location, transportation, accommodations, and permit contacts in place.
This is perhaps one of the most important aspects to location shooting to get over. Finding in my case; women who would be happy to go to Fiji, Tahiti, Hawaii or any of the “E” islands isn’t all that tough. What can however be challenging is finding those who you can deal with for a week long trip.
You will find very quickly that not all models are well suited for long trips. Keep in mind depending on where you’re going you’ll be stuck together in a plane or planes, airports, cabs, vans, buses, hotels, etc for hours and you want to be around people who are fun in extreme circumstances.
So be very mindful of who it is that you book for those trips. Put them through an extensive interview process.
This can not be stated enough. When traveling to different places culture changes, and yes that can even be from state to state. So you want to make sure that when preparing to leave the country that you take care of your health.
Make certain that your shots are up to date, and be sure to not only pack all of your medications but when possible, get extras from your doctor that you pack in separate bags. Airlines have been known to lose bags.
Stay hydrated while traveling. It’s something many people don’t think of while traveling and can cause you a lot of problems. Especially when shooting in more arid locations. And even in the cold or mountain locations.
Also; spending hours in planes does have the effect of dehydrating you. Make certain you have lots of bottled water available to you! Also make sure that you bring along gastric relief pills.
Sometimes on location we get a little bold and try new things that may not agree with you and how horrible is it to have spent all the time, energy, and money on a trip to get bogged down in your room with stomach cramps or worse.
Planning any type of travel for a shoot, especially an international shoot is a huge undertaking, and I certainly do not suggest attempting it alone. Unless it’s just going to be you and one or two models.
I used to as I said take anywhere from five to ten models to shoot for a week; which by my calendar is nine days factoring in two days for travel. In addition to the models; I always had a hair stylist, a make-up artist, a wardrobe stylist, even if there wasn’t much wardrobe going on, and you need to have a model wrangler when you have that many models to work with.
I would also try to take at least one videographer to record the behind the scenes fun! Another good person to have on set is your photographer’s assistant! You have no idea how crucial having one can be on location shoots.
It’s even better if you have one who knows how to get things done; even if that means talking their way out of any situation. Like the models; your team needs to be people who you can stand to travel with and spend a lot of time with in close quarters, and under potentially extreme conditions.
You also want and need a team of people who are dedicated and will be willing to work their asses off while on this luxurious working vacation.
It’s also a very good idea if possible to have someone on the team who is experienced in travel outside the US and who already has some idea of the process of getting through customs in other countries; as well as return customs. Usually on shoots I’m that guy since I’ve been to almost every country on the planet, and certainly on every continent!
Part of your preparation for your trip is to know exactly what it is that you are going to be shooting, when and where. For this writing let’s say that you’re going to be shooting in Hawaii, and you want to shoot your models at a waterfall!
Well do you know what shots you’re going to get at the waterfall? Do you know what waterfall you’re going to use?
This is all part of your planning process.
Knowing what shots you want to get, when the light will be at it’s best for it, and where; will save you a lot of time and energy once you get on set. Sure sometimes what you plan and what you end up doing are two different things, but better to have the plan rather than no plan!
Plus it looks to your team and models like you have your act together!
Next we’ll discuss actually booking the itinerary, getting to the location and getting stuff done! I hope that you’re finding this information helpful to you and that you continue to check back.
I will continue with further information next week in Part 2 of Planning Your Location Photo Shoots!
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