Photoshoot Day Workflow
What to pack, we kind of went over this in hauling gear. You bring your cameras, your lights, your stands, your pods, you bring everything. And we try to get our setup done the day before. When we're doing these big, big jobs, we're set up on Friday for Saturday morning. It takes a lot off of my mind to go to bed knowing that the only thing I have to do at 9 a.m. is put cameras on tripods. So we'll go into the gyms and we'll set up everything at six o'clock at night, go takes a couple hours, we set it all up and then we go home, go to bed, wake up the next day and we're ready to rock. Also, setting up the night before, means that my employees, my full-time guys, the people that we work with, the people that understand how it should be done, are the guys setting up the lighting equipment. We don't have contractors or part-timers kinda helping us with that, although they could with our diagrams because it's so painfully easy. So we go in, we set everything up. I keep my cameras just beca...
use I'm weird about that, like I just for some reason can't leave those overnight. And we set it all up, and then we go home. The first step for our workflow the day of shooting starts with a job folder. We get hundreds of these Avery job ticket holders, they're nine by 12, 10 of them are six bucks on Amazon. It's just a plastic folder that holds paper. Alright, what we do is before the shoot, we're going to go through that entire schedule, and we're going to make a sheet that looks like this. It's gonna say U10 rookie league Maynards. Now we put the time on it too. And then it's got a little thing that says you're gonna line your team up, shortest to tallest, you're gonna walk to the entrance with the total number of people in your photo, you're gonna place all order forms in this envelope. It's gonna have the coach's name, phone number, and email address. There's a variety of reasons we ask for that information. I will not photograph a team until the whole team is there. We cannot start with individuals, and then come back to the team because what happens is I struggle with keeping all of the images together. And we're stuck waiting on one kid, so then I have a station with a guy working that can't shoot anything else because we're waiting for a kid that's late, or we're trying to figure out which kid went to which station for which, doesn't work that way. It's whole team, and sometimes people will get mad at me and I just politely point out, you're not waiting on me. You're mad at Becky's mom, you're not mad at me. I'm here, I'm ready. This is what I need, I need the whole team, then we'll get you going. We'll get you out of the door in 12 minutes. We have them line them up, shortest to tallest, we have them come to me with a total number and that's really important. I'll walk you guys through that, but we need to know exactly how many people are in the picture. So it's 10 players, two coaches, total 12. We need to know that number. And then we get this contact information from them, because when the leagues or associations push out, the pictures are done, if we still have stuff that's still there a week or two later, we start calling. We call them. Because it's nothing worse than having a parent be mad at you for product taking too long to get in their hands and you find out it'd been done for a month and sat in the coach's trunk. So at that point we start calling. We buy these collapsible crates, CleverMade crates, 62 liters, they just literally, they fold up, these little plastic crates. We put those at all of the stations and that's where the job folders are at the start of the check-in process, at the check-in table it's in one of those crates. And when it's done, that's where they go, is back in one of those crates. We start with lighting, our lighting is simple, fast, effective, alright? It's gotta match from year to year, you don't wanna start doing crazy, funky stuff every year, changing up your lighting techniques, because then your product line isn't consistent from year to year. And most of your clients are going to be people that buy the same thing every time. Consistency is really big with this. We use all Paul C. Buff stuff for our location work. And it seems like they're one of the few companies out there, it's rare when you find a company that makes a really affordable product that actually rocks, and doesn't have crummy customer service, and they don't take advantage of their customer, they do a great job. So we use the Einsteins for our teams, we love those, and then we use these DB800s, the DigiBees. It's a smaller light but we use two of these for our individual stations, we have a main and a rim. Alright, we also use for our standard volume account the new light that I'm starting to play with, that I really, really like, is this Godox AD200. I don't know guys if you've seen that or if you've played with it, I talked to you guys some of the demos that I shot I'll show you in a minute were done with that. It's like a little bit bigger than a traditional Speedlite, but it's three times the power. And so it's not as good, like it's not a good light if you're gonna go out and shoot a football team, it's not gonna be enough for that. But if you're going out and shooting kids in direct sun, small groups, it's an awesome, awesome light. It's a lithium-ion battery, there's like 500 charges, or 500 full-blast shots on a single charge. And so it's neat. Otherwise just use a traditional Speedlite, but you wanna have the biggest Speedlite you can buy, you want like the 580 or the 630 or whatever Nikon's making, I don't know all their lines, but you want the big one, you want the big one. For light modifiers, if we are shooting, or if we are shooting inside, we always go with the biggest, biggest, biggest umbrella we can find. I just wanna huge light source. Okay, I just think that would look cool when I'm like setting up, like a seven foot umbrella, I think it makes me look more legit, and that means a lot to me. We also shoot with the Paul C. Buff, the Beauty Dish, we use the white, not the silver. The white is less specular than the silver. They're both good. Just get the widest throw, the white one, it'll work great, that's what we use for all of our outdoor sports. And for indoor, for the green screens, we use these foldable, the giant Stripboxes. Reason why we use the Paul C. Buff Stripboxes, it's not because the lighting coming out the Softbox is way better than any other Striplight I've owned, it's not because of that, it's because these things are like so simple, it's like an umbrella. You set it up, it tosses in one of those ATA, that double-wide case that I roll. I toss two of those in there with all my light stands, with everything, it fits, it's brilliant, it's simple and the light is great. So it's an awesome light modifier in addition to being so portable. You do have to put a grid on it though. If you aren't putting a grid on it, you're just gonna throw your light everywhere, it's gonna be a mess. So we do pull that light in. Alright, let's talk about backgrounds. When we get a huge, huge, huge large account, I buy backgrounds, I run them for five years. Every five years they get a new look. One of the things that we do that's a little bit unique, that I like, is there's a bunch of companies out there that you can buy backgrounds from, like a ton. And they're all really good products, and I'm not gonna say any of them are better or worse. And I'm seeing a larger number of them that are offering custom printed backdrops. The thing that I found is that certain companies, you can buy a stock image from. You can go to Adobe, look up soccer field, you can go to the league and say "Which one do you like?" Let them pick a background that's truly going to be custom for them. Then I go to a company called Colorado Timberline, and they print me a 20 by 10 for 200 bucks. The five foot by six foot ones were like 40 bucks the last time I bought them. And I buy the licensing from the stock image company and I have the backgrounds created. And what it does, it allows them to have some ownership over what the images look like, because some of them want different looks, that's cool, whatever, and then we keep them for five years to make sure that we get our money's worth out of it because I don't want to be buying 1000 dollars in banners, or in backgrounds every year. We want to buy it one time, we want to get our money's worth out of it, but we don't want it to become boring, become the same thing all the time. So on the actual shoot day, I'm a visual learner, I wanna show you guys this. This is the birds-eye view of a high school gym. So if we're gonna go in and shoot 180 teams, this is what we're starting with right? What we do, we go in, the first thing we do is we drop the curtain in the gym, we separate this area. The doors that are going to be closest to where people walk in, that's where parents and siblings can go, this is where the photos happen. There's a hard line, a very real visual line, a curtain. If you are not in a gym, we've had to do basketball photos and we got put in a cafeteria, what did we do to create a line? We folded up the lunch tables, we made a wall. Build a wall. Alright, and if you don't have lunch tables, and you don't have a curtain, bring a background stand, hang up a background. Create a partition, you gotta get something, a hard line that people know, it's not okay for me to be back here. That's a very real thing, and it's important to our success. On this side where the parents are, we're gonna set up our product table, we're gonna take those three tables right here, and that's the check-in table. So this is, this is also the wall that teams will line up when they have their entire team, shortest to tallest, they line up against that wall to get brought in for pictures. This is the other side of the curtain where they come out. So we tell parents, you can go in here, they'll pop out there in 15 minutes. That's again the picture of it, we tape up pictures of our banners, we have all the products, we have all the pictures that say "We've got it covered." It's kinda funny 'cause I can remember one time too this lady was taking pictures of her kid in front of the sign that said "No pictures please." I got a little giggle out of that, it made me laugh. But that person who's working this desk, they're job is to block parents, they don't come in, okay? That's that little crate right down there, that's one of those collapsible crates we were talking about. Okay, so it literally just fold it up, done. There's a credit card, there's the Square reader, and we have all the order forms out, we walk people through our product, that is a huge, huge, huge place. This job is the worst job we have, that job sucks. 'Cause that job is like you are in the middle of chaos the entire day, I feel bad for when people have to take that job. And the thing that really stinks about it is that it's generally my full-time guys because they're the only ones I trust to answer all of the questions. So I feel bad for them afterwards, so it sucks, that job sucks. But then they get kicked in. There's gonna be one person doing team photography, and there's going to be an assistant. The assistant is there to walk up and say "Hi your team's here? "How many people do we have in your team photo? "12? Okay cool, they're lined up shortest to tallest? "Yep? Alright bring them on in." So we bring them in, and we have two 10 foot by 20 foot backgrounds set up with two huge light stands, matching Einsteins, matching umbrellas, matching distances, all set up on one PocketWizard. One camera, we shoot this side, and if there's a bunch of teams coming in while the photographer's photographing the left side, the assistant is setting up the right side. Soon as the right side is ready, we're setting up the left side, okay? So remember I told you that they check in with this envelope. The first thing we do before we take a team picture, is they stand in front of that team and they hold up the job folder, and they take a picture of the team with the name. So we have a visual like reference, these kids are this team, we know that. Then we take that folder, throw it on the ground, we take their team picture. My team posing is crazy, crazy easy and always consistent. So I'll walk you guys through that too. We go in, we take their picture, and then the kids will go down, and we have five individual stations set up, okay? It's a two light setup, and what we started doing now is we actually set it up with the individual background on one side, and the green screen on the other. They go up, we have these little feet, it's the greatest thing in the world. They stand on the feet, the first kid walks up, holds up that job folder, smiles, we know that's that team, we photograph every kid on the individual background, we walk over, we turn the background to the green screen, same lighting, same exposure, we do the poster backgrounds, they walk out. All the order forms from that team, as we're writing the frame number down, then are put in that job folder, sealed, put in a bin. Organized. Simple. It's not like this stuff, when we get into schools, you gotta buy software to keep a school organized. This stuff you can do pen and paper still. That's how we do it. It's that easy. So literally, there's our photographers, there's our background light, and our overhead, there's our two big umbrellas, that's it. Okay? And it's just this simple. This is actually something that I'm really kinda, we kinda hacked a product, and it works really well, and now it's even cooler for our school stuff. These light stands, there's an American company, make them called Titan Stands. And there's a Chinese company called, they make Cheetah Stands that are these pistol grip light stands that you grab and you just raise and lower your light, it's awesome. Well we figured out that you can change the post on it and put a tripod head on it, and it's like and old camera stand, you guys probably haven't been photographers long enough to know what a camera stand is. So it's like an old 70's camera stand. So what is cool about that, is we want the camera, when we're shooting individual portraits of the camera slightly above chin. So that changes, of the age of the kids, and the gender, it changes a lot. And so what would stink, was some of our tripods you got this little, putting it up, you're putting it down, and you're moving legs, and it's just not easy. This thing makes it easy. So we use that for tripods now. There's all the cases, those are all the done orders, we have the soccer balls, we have the baseball bats, we have the footballs, you do not bring anything back there. There is not bags, bats, balls, nothing, we have it. Reason is, is I cannot imagine how annoying it would be to have 14 12-year-old boys standing in line with bats. They can't do it. Sometimes coaches wanna push for it and they say "We wanna use our own bats, it's really important "that each kid uses their own bats." If they wanna do that, that's fine, it's one bat at a time, one in, one out. The pictures are gonna take forever coach, and then they generally go "Okay it's fine, one bat's fine." But we don't allow it. It's a big deal to protect your gear to make you not go crazy.