Shooting duo: the 5 secrets to master

Fabiana and I have been a shooting duo since we started taking photographs. We were a shooting duo when we were street photographers, and we become an even better shooting duo when we become boudoir photographers. Now we don’t shoot together every time, but our knowledge of being a shooting duo is stronger than ever.
In this article we will open up our bag of secrets with the five most important things that make a successful shooting duo. These “secrets“, if implemented and tested correctly, will give you a tremendous advantage over shooting alone.

1. Shooting duo: one director, one creative

The most difficult role in a shooting duo is the one of the subject on front of the lenses. This is because when two photographers photograph the same person, it is very easy for your subjects the be confused. This is why when shooting duo, you need to split your roles in Director and Creative.
The Director‘s role in a shooting duo is to take the session in his or her hands and move it forward. Poses, directions, main contact with the subject, these are all things that a Director should do to ensure that your subject is fully aware of what she should do.
The Creative‘s role is to be the photographer who can capture the in-between, natural moments. Not having the need to direct, nor the need to get the subject’s attention, the Creative can look for alternative angles, of moments in which the subject is focusing on listening to the Director and she is not conscious of being in front of another camera!
The Director is the photo maker, while the Creative is the photo taker. In having both roles, you have the best of both worlds!

2. Look out for each other

When two photographers are shooting the same subject, the worst thing that can happen it to steal each other’s photo. The golden rule is to be aware of where the other photographer is, and avoid stepping in her lines. Before moving, before waving your hands to direct the subject, before doing anything, you have to know what your partner is doing.
Failing to follow this rule will have two very bad effects: good photos will be ruined and one of the photographers will get frustrated. It does not matter if you are the Director or the Creative, you are a shooting duo, and you have to “dance” together when you photograph, respecting each other frames and times.

3. Know how to communicate silently

In a shooting duo, unspoken words are more important than spoken one. Faby and I have the huge advantage to be partner in life, so we know each other extremely well. We don’t need to ask many question, as we just need to look at each other. If being more than just a shooting duo is advantageous for us, it is not a prerequisite; you need to put some clear rules and you need to practice shooting together. If the Director steps away from a shooting position, s/he will wait until the Creative has finished exploring other angles, then with a simple nod from the Creative, the Director can move the subject.
Define whichever rules you prefer and practice!
PS: even if we are Italians, we try never to speak in Italian to communicate within us: it looks unprofessional.

4. Do not contradict each other in front of the subject

It is normal that one of the photographers in a shooting duo does something wrong. It happens. Maybe just asking the subject to move before the other photographer is done with the pose, or just by giving a pose that may not work well. In those cases the best course of action is to smile, be silent and move on. Mistakes happen, but the worst mistake of all would be to contradict each other in front of your subject. You would put her in a difficult, and possibly confusing position; you would also risk to make her uncomfortable or puzzled, which does not work well for what you want to achieve.
Make sure to respect your partner, and if anything wrong happens, don’t discuss it there and then, just look at point number 5!

5. Have a post session review

Especially when being a shooting duo is not a second nature yet, having a post session review between the two of you is super important. Openly discuss what did work and what didn’t (and why). Sometimes one of you might be frustrated, some other times the other will feel like not having taken a single good shoot. Remember that being a shooting duo gives you the possibility to help each other, and the more you communicate, the more you will be able to learn and to get better. Make sure that the post-session review is positive, focussing on how to learn from your mistakes and how to strengthen your relation!

Being a shooting duo is an amazing advantage and can truly help you develop as photographer. Follow these five rules, and you will be able to make the most out of having a “partner in crimes“.

Oh, and don’t forget to have fun!

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