One of the things that I want to do more of, is work with models in 2024, and this will give you an insight into the process that is involved in getting to the "shoot stage". For this, I used a model site called PurplePort Limited to find models that I would like to work with. Not only does this give me a list of all models on the site, it also shows me the location and styles that they shoot.
I began by creating a mood board on Pinterest with a basic idea of what I would like to achieve. By gathering these ideas, a foundation was beginning to solidify so both the model and I knew the direction I wanted to take the shoot in.
As you can see from the link, the idea to go for an Autumnal shoot set in a forest/woodland setting (even though it was winter) was something that appealed to me. Primarily because of the colours that were still around at this time of year would still be around. Plus, the chances of snow being forecast in the coming weeks/months couldn't be guaranteed.
Once the idea was settled on, the next step was to find a model that would be
a) Interested; and b) affordable.
Around early December time, I started searching for models that would be in a certain area to shoot in. At this time, I knew that I have to travel to meet my model, as there isn't that many models locally. So began a search across the Central belt of Scotland, as well as Cumbria and North Northumberland.
Having looked through several portfolios of models within my budget range, I finally decided to reach out to someone called Chloe, from Newcastle. This then began few weeks of back and forward communication as to when a suitable date could be agreed upon. Having deciding on a date in January, it was now just enjoying Xmas and the New Year before starting preparations for the shoot.
We had agreed on a place near Hexham so over the festive period, decided to take a trip to see what possible opportunity's there were. After scouting several locations in the area, we both settled on one that was just outside Hexham. We discussed the pros and cons of each and came to a conclusion that one location had more opportunities than the rest.
Few Days Before
As the day of the shoot draws closer, there was something special that I had to do to ensure that I was ready for the day. That thing was CHARGE MY BATTERIES. With shooting in a forest, there would be no electricity to plug my lights in so I had to thinks of another way of being able to control the light to get the images that we had wanted.
So with camera batteries, flash batteries AND trigger batteries all charging, it was time to check the weather and the route to ensure that I was able to get there and if the shoot needed to be postponed due to weather or illness. Thankfully, the weather forecast is reasonably good (dry if a little cold), and no roadworks scheduled. It should take me around 1hr 40mins to get to the location, and with a planned departure time of 8:30, should be able together there in time for the 10:30 start time.
After another check of the weather and traffic conditions for any planned roadworks, with no major worries, it was time to pack my bags. Probably THE most important thing to remember is to have everything I need before setting off for the shoot. As the success depends on my ability to take the things that I had planned to use.
Camera - ✔️, Flash - ✔️, Triggers - ✔️, Stand for Flash - ✔️, Spares - ✔️
Now it was just a case of having an early night on preparation for the early start and travel to meet my model.
The day of the shoot has arrived, and what seemed an eternity in the making, can now shoot some images that we had been discussing. It was an early start for the travel to just outside Hexham and to the secluded woodland we had chosen as the location. Unfortunately, the weather the night before had been cruel and had rained. This caused the leaves that were discarded to be unusable (we had an idea that would have been GREAT had the leaves been dry). Once at the site, I began to set up the single flash unit that I had planned on using to light my model, along with a reflective photographic umbrella.
So with the camera ready to go, off we set to see what images that we could come up with. First stop was a set of steps that we came across. The first set of images shot was just to get the settings dialled in and to get a raptor set up between the model and I. After starting off a little distance away from the model, I began to gradually move closer as I began feeling more "in the zone".
Starting on headshots, we then progressed on to half and full length shots. One we had exhausted the ideas, it was a chance to change clothes. Admittedly, just her jacket, but a costume change non the less and the next location. Which was a little stream.
We decided to have a little "action sequence" where I would try to capture her crossing the stream. Once again, timing was the important thing to get right here. This time, we decided to shoot some lifestyle images. Images where the model was not the main focus of the shot, but to show the clothes she was wearing.
Another costume change later, and we moved on to a small bridge crossing a small river. After trying several angles and using some of the foliage as a prop finished off with some different ideas.
Trial and error to achieve a certain shot (shot at the end)
It's been a few days since the shoot, and now time to start editing. After shooting nearly 350 images, the process of deciding which ones to spend time on and editing and which ones not to began. After what seemed like HOURS (probably because it was) I had narrowed it down to half. These were split into the GOOD ones, the NOT SURE ones and the BAD ones
With approximately 100 images in each section initially being selected I took a closer look and tried to be super critical and choose only the ones that I really liked. Of those I had managed to narrow it done considerably to a point where I was left with a total of 80 that I was attracted to. Something about them intrigued me.
And so the post processing process began. I don't like to spend to long on an image making adjustments, the temptation to "over edit" and ruin the image is real, so doing the bare minimum gives a more natural looking image. Each image is judged on its own merit as to what changes are made to enhance.
Image we were looking to achieve
1 Week Later
After revisiting the edits that I had done to double check that I was happy with them, it was time to export them and send them to the model. And also share on several websites and on my Social Media platforms. After backing the images up to an external Hard Drive for safety, I then delete the images from my computer to free up space for the next project that I embark on.
And there you have it, a complete rundown of the steps of planning and shooting with a model and the work before and after. There is a lot of work involved in the production of an image than just "pressing a button". I hope you have enjoyed this little insight into what it takes to have a finished published image.