Things I've Learned: Photo Shoots

I sometimes compare myself to other bloggers and DIYers. I feel like I am behind and there isn't enough time in the day. I question why my house is a disaster and resembles a prop room. Don't even get me started on the actual craft room which I can barely maneuver half the time. Photo shoots are crazy. DIY photo shoots are even crazier (and messier.) Why? You set up for multiple shots and final shots. That's a ton of shots. You have items in various states of done-ness and then you have to shoot your final shot. It is like two photo shoots in one. I thought I would share some little things I have learned from shoots along the way. There is still a ton I want to learn, maybe you can learn from my mistakes, I hope this helps a little, even if it just gives you a good laugh.

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Tips I learned from photoshoots:

Pack the night before, at least. Occasionally, I shoot somewhere else, I try really hard to keep it at home. But when I do have to leave, it takes forever to pack. Party shoots involve a ton of serve ware and breakables so you are always wrapping and packing mulitple boxes. It takes a long time. I forget how long until I try to do it the morning of. I trick myself thinking I have everything organized and set out and think I am done. I should just pack it as I set it out. Next time.

Get help. I have done five hundred steps up the Wallingford Center staircase carrying ten different boxes of goodies to set up for a shoot. If I wasn't so darn cheap and independent, I should have paid someone to help me. Not to mention then you aren't all alone while shooting. Luckily, that time my brother came by to keep me company and helped me reload the car after the shoot. Phew. I was ten times past exhausted.

Working as a team makes everything easier. I have a tendency, especially since I shoot from home most of the time to do it all. I'm the art director, the crafter, the lighting specialist (or lack there of), the photographer, the prop stylist, the food stylist, the baker, the copywriter and the editor. Put office assistant, accountant, web designer and PR team on there too, behind the scenes, and that's a lot of work. Part of this problem is that I am a control freak. Part of the problem is that I am cheap and I think I am saving money by doing it all myself. But it's still expensive, it costs time that I could be coming up with new ideas, and my sanity from worrying and trying extra hard at the parts I'm NOT good at. On my list of things to work on. 

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It's messy. Accept it. I've often wondered if I am doing something wrong when I shoot. There is this tremendous mess. The more styled items you have in a photo, the bigger it gets. The best thing I have learned so far, I learned from the Trophy book shoot. It is messy, no matter how many people you have on the team. It always starts organized (massive quantities of props and goodies) with everything basically in it's proper place, but even that might make the most OCD person a little crazy. Every shoot is messy in the end. The messes for Trophy were epic and they made me feel better about my own slightly less epic disasters I have after a shoot. Schedule time to set up to start out organized and always leave time at the end, no less than an hour. Especially if you are shooting at a location. If you are paying to use a space, be sure to always calculate time for set up and cleanup.

Bring extras. I can not tell you how many times this has made the shot. Extra props, extra craft supplies in other colors, extra tools and tape and glue. Also remember random stuff that catches your eye. This is mainly important when you are shooting offsite. You can't grab that fabric if it isn't there. You don't have your collection of cake plates just down the hall. I just told you shoots are messy and this is why. You need to have options. Sometimes plan A doesn't work or just isn't perfect. You need a plan B and C. This was especially the case for most of my shoots, a few extra random goodies save the day.

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Learn. All the time, don't stop. Learning is also absolutely the best part about working with a team (aside from not having to do it all). Watch them, learn from them. If you don't know why they did something, ask.

What's done is done. If you are working on your own, still learn. Mistakes and failures from crafting and shooting have made me better at what I do. You will get better. Keep going. Here's a picture of a DIY I want to to redo, it's from a few years ago, an edible bunting made from fruit roll-ups. The idea is good, but now it's kind of everywhere, and I'm crazy so if I redo one, I'll end up re-shooting every DIY I don't like. So I have to accept it, move on and learn from all those things I don't love about it.

Keep going. I can't tell you how many times I have had a grand idea about this amazing DIY that is going to go viral only to have it crash and burn in front of my eyes. I'll admit it, I have cried. I was disappointed for it not being amazing, being too hard, being ugly, but it could also be because I was on a deadline and that was all I had in my hat for ideas that day. Crud, now what right? If you are just starting out, let me tell you this happens to everyone. Breath deep and remember two things: 1. Most things work 90% of the time. The other 10% burn, with big shooting flames. 2. There are always new ideas. Experiment and play around with scraps, extras, random props until you are inspired again, be sure to do this really fast if you have a deadline. You started with a vision, but you brought together these items and props for a reason, what else can you do with them?

When in doubt, run down your go to list. If you don't have one, get one. This will come to you more as you get more experience. What is something that ALWAYS works? For me it is garland. For you it might be a gorgeous place setting or accessorizing with leopard print.  Find your strengths and practice them over and over until they become second nature. Then try new things. Expand your portfolio, but confidently, knowing if you are ever in a pinch, you have a little something in your back pocket.

Today is a little random, I was just thinking about my processes lately and how I can make them better. xo

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