Preparing for the Shoot | Transcription

Preparing for the photo shoot or for the engagement session. It is important, before we go out and start shooting, to have certain checklists, to have certain guides. It’s crucial for consistency and also it helps us to get in the zone, if you will.

What are the steps to get in the zone? Here’s what I mean by getting in the zone. When it’s shoot day, when it’s time to go out and shoot I have this tendency to sit there and work in the office and work, work, work, work, work right up to the last second that I go on a shoot. Whenever I do that I leave for my shoot and I’m not in the zone. I’m not geared up and ready and every time I’ve done that it in the past it always makes me kind of get into the shoot just a little bit slower. This is kind of my guide and checklist of what I like to do and what I recommend that you all do as well when going out on a shoot.

Take a few minutes just to kind of get yourself in the zone. It could be 30 minutes, it could be 60 minutes. Figure out what works for you. What I do in that time is I review my confirmation email. I look at my arrival times, my concluding times, I look at the locations and kind of get, just a little bit, of pre visioning of what we’re going to be doing. Here’s a little tip, I love racing cars. That’s not the tip. The tip is actually from a book that I read about racing cars. One of the best ways of improving your lap times, of getting faster, one of the best ways of actually getting and becoming a better driver is by using a technique that professional drivers call visualization. In fact, this technique is not just exclusive to racing cars. It’s actually done in everything from acting, to photography, to any area that you can possibly imagine, to public speaking and so forth.

What’s visualization? Basically what a race car driver would do is after having driven a track and kind of getting familiar with it before a race they would sit there, they would sit there and in their mind’s eye they would literally visualize racing the course. They would drive around the track. They would see the turns. They would put it in gear. They’re going to basically do all the things that they would do as if they were actually driving the car but they’re doing it in their minds. This is the interesting thing about visualization. Scientifically, visualization is just as effective of a tool of practicing as the actual act of practicing itself meaning those that are visualizing racing their car on the track, those that are visualizing a public speech, those that are visualizing playing a concert piano piece, they are actually practicing in their mind’s eye and it has a direct impact on the efficacy and success of that.

This is part of that. Visualizing what the shoot is going to be like, getting yourself into the shoot mode. These are the things that kind of help me to do that. Now, I want to review the notes on the couple as well. I want to know who they are. I want to remember what they do, their likes, their hobbies, I want to go into this shoot not asking questions that I’ve already asked. I want to continue the conversation where we left off. Asking questions that we’ve already talked about before leads me back to that whole point of we want our clients to feel like they are our only clients and by asking those questions and starting over with a conversation, they’re going to feel like oh, Pye has so many clients he doesn’t really remember who we are and that’s not the impression that I want them to have.

Number three, load the mood board to your phone. I keep the mood and Evernote always loaded so that basically I can pull them up at any time. I can look at notes. I can also look at the mood board. I have my assistant pull it up to his or her phone as well so that way they can help me and guide me through the day. Sometimes I’ll even give my assistant the camera, I’ll say flip through and kind of see if we’re missing anything on the mood board so far while I’m going in and kind of thinking and planning out another shot.

Use the equipment checklist to prep. The equipment checklist is your friend. I know you’ve been out to a million shoots, I know you know what gear you need, I know. The equipment checklist is going to prevent you from forgetting things because believe me even though you’ve done it a thousand times you’re going to go out into a shoot and be like, oh man, ND filters, oh man, I forgot extra batteries, oh man, I forgot memory cards. These are things that actually happen, guys. Guys and gals use the equipment checklist. We have included that checklist for both engagement and for wedding for our studio and what we use. They’re pretty self explanatory. Look them over, customize them to your needs and use them.

Also, just a little heads up, in our studio we actually have our staff help prepare our equipment for us. They equipment checklist is even more necessary because they’re simply following the guide and putting everything together that it way is saves us 30 minutes of time from having to do it ourselves.

Next, dress appropriately, of course. If you’re going on a hike up a hill don’t wear sandals. Wear the appropriate shoes, wear the appropriate everything. Likewise, if you’re going to the beach sandals are probably a good idea. Get some sunscreen. Do you know how much time we spend out in the sun, people? This is just your general health that we’re talking about here. Dressing appropriately for a photographer. I know this probably doesn’t need to be mentioned to most of you but we have a lot of photographers that come into the studio that don’t really understand this concept.

If you are shooting and photographing other people and you’re bringing out their beauty and you’re bringing out their best self image possible and so forth one would have the expectation that if you are an artist that you would dress like an artist. If you are a fashion designer then you would dress like a fashion designer. If a fashion designer showed up, no matter what their accolades are, if they were dressed poorly in just regular Target sweatpants it would be difficult to take them seriously as a fashion designer. It would be difficult to kind of think that they are what they actually are. Dressing appropriately is actually kind of a big deal and it’s one of those things that we like to make sure that we do it during the initial meeting, we do it during the engagement session, we do it at all times.

You might see me quite frequently going out and shooting engagement sessions with SLR Lounge T-shirts on. I do that because my clients know that it’s for SLR Lounge and so forth but generally I would dress more like what you see here, a button up, having something that is going to look just a little bit nicer than simply shorts and a T-shirt. Granted, to each their own style.

Next, leave early. Make sure that you have gas in your car and by the way a funny story. Justin always asks me to switch his car and every time he asked me to borrow my car and switch to his he always leaves his tank empty. Literally, this has happened like 25+ times so he’s notorious for that. Make sure you have gas because guess what, if you leave on time but then you forget to add gas to your car that’s another 10 minutes and it’s going to make you run late. Plan for traffic. We have a general rule of thumb that we double traffic time. Arrive early. This is kind of the thing, is we double travel time simply because, well, if there is traffic then we’re going to get there on time and if there’s not traffic or there’s not that much traffic we’re going to get there early and we’re going to arrive early for a quick pre-shoot walkthrough.

For an engagement session we don’t necessarily need to do a pre-shoot walkthrough so arriving 15 minutes early gives me enough time just to kind of give the location a quick glance and be ready for it and if we hit traffic or whatever we still arrive on time. We try to make sure that we’re at least 15 to 30 minutes early or prior to the actual contract time.


The Initial Meeting

Prepping for the Engagement Talk Through

Engagement Shoot Prep & Communication

Prepping for the Wedding Day Talk Through

Wedding Day Preparation & Communication


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