I realise this title is very misleading, assuming I am remotely qualified to call what I do for the blog a “photo shoot.” Stag and I are both amateur photographers, at best, and I am a 5’5″, apple-shaped ‘model’ who has perpetual resting-bitch-face (please still work with me, future brands!).
Despite all of that negative (trying to be positive), we do have a few photo shoots under our belt here at Wolf & Stag. I thought I’d give you a little glimpse into the inner-workings of how we do. Mostly, because it’s as unglam as it comes (hilarity ensues). But also, I hope to show any budding bloggers — or even established ones looking to do more personal photography — that even the most self-conscious, awkward of us pull together interesting, beautiful photo shoots. It will get there, in the end. I promise.
Step One: The Photo Shoot Prep
A photo shoot pretty much always begins with — as all good things do — a little panic.
“When was the last time we did a photo shoot?!” I’ll exclaim to Stag, usually right before bed/in the morning when existential crises always seem to happen. “I should really do these more in advance. Why do I always wait until the last minute to do everything? Let alone the fact that I don’t even have anything to wear for this photo shoot, because I’m broke and hate Oxford Street and haven’t bought anything less than 80% off in five years.”
Something to that extent is usually what kicks off our photo shoot prep. Inevitably, I find something to wear (barely), and I will at least attempt to showcase something different than I did last time. But to give you some practical advice, I use a mix of Google Calendar and Trello to keep track of outfit planning. I also do think about the type of vibe I want to convey in a photo shoot. For example, if I’m wearing something a bit more daring (for me), like this one, I think about how I’ll stage the shoot and what backdrop to use.
Step Two: The Location Scouting
Stag: “Let’s find somewhere with an interesting background to give a really unique depth of field. We need to think about how the colours will contrast with what you’re wearing, to achieve the best vibe.”
Me: “Let’s find somewhere with no humans anywhere nearby, at all. Preferably with no rubbish bin appearing in every shot. Can’t be too picky, though.”
Step Three: The Posing
BY FAR THE WORST PART OF ANY PHOTO SHOOT. The part when I actually have to pose for pictures.
We always begin with a few test shots, just to make sure the lighting, background etc. all work for the overall look we’re trying to achieve. And by ‘look,’ I mean that they don’t suck.
Usually, though, these end up being my best pictures, because I’m caught off-guard and aren’t attempting to take a half-way decent photo.
For some inexplicable reason, I begin every photo shoot in the same way: standing square, feet hip-distance apart (in some form of Yoga Mountain Pose, apparently), staring straight at the camera, smiling awkwardly like I’m taking a family photo circa 1992. WHY DO I DO THIS REPEATEDLY. Only my subconscious may know.
When I first began blogging, I genuinely thought 20 years of watching America’s Next Top Model ( and yelling “Come on girls, even I know how to Smize!” to the TV) pretty much qualified me to be a model.
I now take back every mean comment I said about those girls on ANTM. Because modelling is hard, people. I will never know my angles.
Woe-is-me-aside, if you’re here looking for some photo shoot advice, here is the best advice: study your features. Look back on the photos, and try to figure out not just what works (and doesn’t), but why. It took me a number of photo shoots to realise that I look much, much better when smiling, rather than pulling a ‘neutral face’ (see comment on “perpetual resting-bitch-face” above). So while you may love photos of other bloggers looking beautifully nonchalant, it may not work for you. Eventually, you’ll find your own style — and, with that, niche — of photography.
My other advice, if using a photographer (or photographer-SO): take a few photos, then check to see how they’re coming out before doing any more. As a very successful blogger once told me, “Who knows how to best shoot blogging photography? Other bloggers.” Chances are, you will know what works for your blog better than most. You can save a lot of time by checking in on the photography yourself. Be your own photo-shoot director.
Step Four: The ‘Kiss and Make Up’
For some of you, this will just be “That’s a Wrap” and stop at Step Three.
However, this step is an essential one for those of you using your ‘Blogging Husbands’ (or boyfriends, or significant others, or even just BFFs) to take photos of you. This is where you apologise for taking out your frustrations and awkwardness on them (“Babe! What are you doing?! Surely I can’t look like that in real life. It must be your photography skills!”), stressing about the fact that people can see you pretending to be a model in public.
Yep, every photo shoot I go through what I can only describe as the five stages of grief, ending each with a newfound acceptance of who and what I am. As expected, Stag has developed his own method of coping with this journey of self-discovery, which I’m pretty sure involves his own five stages of grief. Or is that just marriage?
A wrapped photo shoot often ends with a steaming cup of chai from Dishoom. The way all good days begin (or end), and the best way to make Stag a happy camper again.
What do you think of this post? Bloggers: what goes behind your photo shoots? Do you go through a similar process to me? Are you considering doing more outfit posting but unsure how to begin? Let me know in the comments!