How to organise a Test Shoot: The Team

Last week we touched the essential of organising a test shoot, discussing how to make sure to prepare the idea for the shoot at its best. This week we will focus on your team: makeup artist, stylist, hair stylist and models. You do not necessarily need all of them, in fact, for our shoots at London Boudoir Photography we generally focus on models and makeup artist, but it is necessary to understand what to look for in each and every one of them.
We will also discuss how to create a winning casting call so that you may have a variety to choose from.

Who and How Many?

The first thing you want to decide once the idea is clear is who do you need on board. To understand this, you need to have your timing well clear in mind.

  • How long is the session going to last?
  • Have you taken into consideration the makeup/hair time?
  • Have you considered some additional time to deal with any issue or delay?
  • How long do you need to shoot each model for?

Once you have your timing, you can answer other questions:

  • How many models do you want to photograph in a session?
  • Do you want a makeup artist who can do hair as well or do you need two separate people?
  • Will you rely on the models’ own garments or do you need a stylist for the session?

You have to understand who do you need to realise your vision before starting to put out any casting call. Generally, for a standard Boudoir session we focus on a couple of models and one make up artist. We plan roughly five to six hours for the entire shoot; one hour for the first makeup, one and a half/two hours of shooting for each model and one hour of contingency. This timing is based on our current photographic skills: we are confident that, in 90 minutes, we will have amazing photographs and we are comfortable that, even if the model is not very experienced, we will be able to get her to relax and look natural in the same time.

Casting Call

A casting call is a public announcement to find the creative people you need. This week we will focus on how to create one while next week we will discuss where to place it and how to shortlist and select your team. The main mistake I see in many casting call is the way in which an idea is presented. Reading a casting call, you would be much more prone to apply to it if the call is written with your needs in mind. If it highlighted what’s in for you, you would be much more interested in it than if it had to highlight just an idea.
If you are looking for a makeup artist, what are you going to offer them should they join your team? Great images? Will you focus on details of their makeup? Are you going to give them creative space, allowing them to fill the gaps in their portfolios? Are you going to pay them?
When creating a casting call, write it as if you were the creative you want to take on board. Explain your project, your vision, but make sure to focus on the advantages the creatives will receive by joining it. This may take some time and skills, but the more you will be able to write your casting call highlighting the advantages the successful your casting call will be.

A Note on “Flakers”

Our industry is very peculiar. Some models, especially when they are not signed by an agency, have the tendency to believe they are… unique. For this reason, more often when your portfolio is not at the top of the game, you may find some that believe that it is absolutely acceptable to apply to a casting call, confirm the shoot and not to show up. This is called “flaking” in the industry. It is disgraceful, but it happens.
Our rule for flakers is simple: if you did not show up, you won’t be called in a second time.
For this reason, when we started, we always over-booked. Three models instead of two, two instead of one and so on. Moreover, a good communication, as highlighted already, is the key to ensure everyone to show up, or at least be warned on time if anything is going to go pear shaped!
Of course, I do not want to generalise on models. There are amazing people out there; however, the number of unprofessional people is huge.

Next episode we will discuss social networks and agencies, where you can find the creative people you need to transform your vision into reality.


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