Today, I want to talk about going the extra mile with your work + getting the most out of every shoot. It’s not the most glamorous topic, but let’s be real, hard work is never all that glamorous. In fact, it can be downright annoying and tedious at times. But hey, that’s what separates the good ideas from the great ones. Spending a thirteenth hour refinishing a piece of furniture to make it ‘perfect’ or heading into borderline OCD territory by continually moving a donut 1/8 of an inch until you get the exact shot you were picturing in your head.
It probably sounds completely crazy, and it kind of is. BUT the craziness is worth it.
That said, here are my tip five tips for getting the most out of every shoot (whether you’re doing everything yourself or you have a team of people helping you)…
1. Consider everything. Don’t just pay attention to the product or DIY you are photographing. Consider all the details that surround it as well – the foreground, middle ground, background. Attention to detail is the redheaded stepchild of ‘done is better than perfect’. BUT I would rather spend an extra 60 minutes getting something that I am completely satisfied with than get done early and sit on the couch for an extra hour afterward. And I really like sitting on the couch.
2. Be okay with making changes. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it. Instead of spending another 20 minutes trying to ‘make it work’, switch things up. Move things around, try a different angle with your camera, etc.
I did this a lot with a project I created for Curbly recently for faux copper planters. It’s better to have too many options that not enough, right? I talked about options in the last Behind the Scenes post.
3. Be okay with being a little crazy. To an outside person, it is going to look straight up insane that you are having a photographer shoot your outfit post right next to a busy restaurant (with people walking by who totally don’t ‘get it’). But that’s okay. If you get the photos you want, who cares!
4. Ask for what you want. This is the part where you put on your art director hat, if you want to get into fancy terms. If you’re working with anyone else (a photographer, a model, an assistant, etc) do not be afraid to speak up. This is a tough one – believe me I know. I definitely worry that if I ask a photographer to try a different angle or crop in a certain way, I might seem like a jerk. And that genuinely concerns me because as much as I try to fight it, I care what other people think of me. BUT the bottom line is, I’m not a jerk. I just know what I want, and as uncomfortable as it might be (especially when you’re working with someone new), I’m going to ask for it. Even if I apologize a zillion time while doing so.
5. Treat every photo you set up and take as if it were being done for your favorite magazine. This is the most important rule to remember. And it’s something I always have on my mind. Whether I’m taking photos myself or working with a photographer, I treat every project exactly the same – as if it is being shot for my absolute favorite magazine.
Bouquet photos by Mary Costa Photography // All other photos by Brittni Mehlhoff
So here’s a quick story to reiterate all of these points, really quick…
For this flower shoot, I asked my friend Kelly if she would be my model. Obviously, she’s adorable and I know her pretty well, so I was comfortable asking her to make changes to her stance (Tip 2) and get poked with a thorn or two, if need be.
I raided her suitcase to pick out something that was neutral but complimentary to the flowers I was working with (Tip 1). But she didn’t have any shoes that matched the outfit I chose. I wanted to get a couple of full body shots, so I asked her to wear mine, as in the ones I was wearing at the time of the shoot (Tip 3 and 4). I crossed my fingers that they weren’t too sweaty (again it was helpful that we know each other for this one) and went without shoes until we were finished with all of the shots.
I asked Mary, the photographer, if I could go through the photos as we were shooting (Tip 4) to make sure we were getting what I was picturing in my head. And the whole thing went by smoothly. In the end, it was just a DIY for the blog, BUT it was just as important to me as a magazine shoot would have been. So, I treat them the EXACT same way (Tip 5).
Have your own tricks to share? I’d love to hear how you approach DIY and/or product shoots, in the comments below.
And if youre looking for more ways to create beautifully styled, share-worthy tutorials, check out my Skillshare class, The How To on How Tos: Creating Compelling Tutorials for your Blog.