How to Prepare for a Family Shoot
We did this pre shoot and the idea was, I love the beach obviously, so I said let's go to a beach and photograph a family. It's spring time so I thought, well, yeah, we'll get nice weather and everything but, of course, did we? No. You know, so we had wind and some rain and it was challenging but I think that will make for some really good teaching opportunities and so what we'll do is we'll roll a few videos. The first one is all about pre shoot. There's some stuff in your guide about, kind of, preparing for the shoot. We'll talk about that afterward but right now let's roll this video and just talk a little bit about getting ready before you actually begin to photograph. So, let's roll that one. Hey you guys, here we are on location at this beautiful scene and we just arrived, we parked. We're just a little bit away from the cars and before you get too carried away with your location, what you want to do is get everything set and here's why. When you're photographing a family, it's d...
ynamic. So many different things can happen and before you get down to the location and get carried away with the location, you want to make sure all your gear is in order. Now, we've created this, or I created this PDF guide for you and one of the pages has a pre shoot check list. This is something that you need to go through before you start shooting and let me highlight a few things that are on here. One of the things that you want to do, of course, is have your camera bag ready and you want to open it up and make sure everything is there. You do not want to hike down to the beach or to the top of the mountain and discover you're missing a lens or battery or something else so I'm just checking it to make sure everything's there. The next thing I need to start doing is getting a little bit specific. You want to pull out each and every camera that you're gunna use and you want to make sure that the front of the camera lens element is clean. So you need to bring cleaning supplies with you. You want to clean it off and get it ready to go because this is something that you can't really do while you're shooting. This has to happen before. We also want to make sure that the strap is tight. Give it a little tug because if it falls off or is loose or something happens near sand or water, that obviously isn't very good. Now in regards to the camera itself, you want to fire off a shot and just make sure that it's working and you want to look at your settings, double check your settings, your ISO, aperture, shutter speed, all of those things. Are you shooting in jpeg or raw? Make sure that is completely dialed beforehand. So you really want to do that important review. Next with the bag, you want to make sure that it's organized in a way that the gear is accessible. In other words, I'll pack my bag for travel, which is very different than the way I pack it for shooting. For travel, everything's jammed in there and it's really tight. For shooting, I remove non essentials. Hard drives are out, card readers, they're gone. It's just the essentials. I have my CF cards, super important to have those. I have them organized in a way. In this case, with this one, I have the clear cards over here on the gray side. If they've been used, the go over to the orange side. If you don't have this thing here that's okay but you want something because you don't want to shoot on top of a card that you've already used. Speaking of cards and your camera, you want to make sure, of course, that the card's backed up and it's formatted, it's fresh. There aren't any other shots on it before you begin. Another thing that's essential is to consider batteries. Batteries fully charged in the cameras, of course, and then back up batteries. I have a ton of these. I have too many, probably enough to shoot for two or three days but I have those because once you get down there, if your batteries go you can't really do anything and that's just the nature of digital capture. I like to throw a couple of these in a back pocket so that I have them on hand so that I'm not needing to unzip the bag and unzip the small little pouch and then get it out, so it's just right there. A couple other things you want to think about is if you're gunna use mobile capture as well. If you are and you're gunna use a phone, what you want to do is turn it to airplane mode. You don't want any calls to be coming in or texts, notifications to be distracting you from the shoot. The other thing that I like to do, is if I know I'm gunna shoot, let's say from four to five, I'll set an alarm for four forty five so when that alarm goes off, it's my clue, okay I have about 15 minutes to go because when you're shooting, you can easily get carried away with all of the fun and you need something to bring you back to reality, say okay, this is where I'm at, this is how far I need to go. When it comes to preparation, some people think, you know what, this is over kill. I don't need to do it, I can just run and gun and make things happen but often that leads to, kind of, sloppy results and sometimes it leads to forgetting something or just not having a setting right and then everything goes bad. Speaking of that, you also want to be thinking about your shot list because you want to be considering what kind of photographs you're gunna be take. You need that A+ hero shot, maybe for the holiday card or the photograph that's gunna go up on the wall. You also want to capture those between moments. Now all of this pre planning needs to happen before the shoot. That means you need to arrive early. You have to get there early and get all of this stuff set. You also want to make sure all of your own needs are covered. What I mean by that is is there a restroom, do you need to use it, do you have water, do you have snacks? All of those things are essential. You also want to double check your wardrobe. If it's really cold out, maybe you want to bring a little beanie along so that you can throw that on your head and keep yourself warm. The reason is, is if you're shivering cold while you're photographing the family, they're gunna pick up on that and the photographs, they won't turn out very well. So, again, you're double checking your technical gear, your own needs, you're doing this ahead of time, before you're really thinking about the location and the light and the reason why this is so important is us photographers, we get excited. Once you get here you just want to start shooting right away but rather than taking off, before you go and do that, get all of this stuff going and it will ensure for a better overall results. Alright, now after you've finished this, it's time to start location scouting. Thinking about the location and also the light, which is what we'll talk about next. Alright, well hopefully that was interesting and then just to highlight in our guide there is this checklist and you can download this as a PDF, obviously, and print it out and I'll keep one of these in my bag even though I've been doing this for a while it's surprising how it's really easy to forget certain things, especially when all of a sudden the kids start coming and there's running and someone has to use the restroom and all this, you know, kind of happens all at once. One thing that I didn't highlight, I forgot to mention there is with your lens caps, I take those off before the shoot obviously as well and I'll take them off and I'll put them away, have the lens hood turned around so that that's ready as well to protect the front element. This really is my lens cap. I've dropped a camera before and that saved it. I cracked this but saved the lens, so that's really important with kids because, again, there's a lot of variables when it comes to photographing kids and then lastly, you may have noticed if you look closely, I'll have these little labels on my gear just, which has my name and my phone number. All of this stuff can easily be dropped and it's really nice, if it is, to have it come back to you. I do that same thing with my batteries, with my cameras and all of that and the reason that this is important, if you think about family and kids for a moment, if those of you who have kids, you know that this, you, like, write with a sharpie pen their name in the back of their jacket so when it's lost at the friend's house they say oh, this is the Orwig's and they call us up and say that's where that jacket was! That can happen with your gear, surprisingly, especially the little things like you open the bag and you drop your, I dunno what, a battery or something like that, so, all of this is essential in a way that shooting's exciting, especially if you're an artistic person. You get caught up in the moment, you want to get caught up in the moment but you want to have all this stuff done first.