Thursday, August 6, 2009

how long does it take to do a dozen portraits?

According to my recent experience with yipieyaya studio, a whole day from 10am to 7pm, apparently. In what must be the most poorly organized shoot I've ever seen, the participants - winners of a scholarship - were called in at 10am to be made up. Fair enough. Except then they were made to stand around and wait for several hours until they started shooting. And of course whichever assistant was supposed to organize the shoot failed to notify people that the time slots were switched around.

How on earth can it possibly take a supposedly professional studio NINE hours to produce a few useable shots per person for twelve people? Perhaps the group shots yield a clue: despite shooting a tethered MF rig, and having TWO people reviewing images as they popped up live, almost every single shot - of perhaps a hundred - was misframed; limbs were cut off, proportions out, compositions imbalanced. At least they could have cropped a little, considering they were using a Phase One P45.

It gets better. The makeup was poor and unevenly caked; you'd definitely have to retouch that for advertising use. Personally, I've always tried to skip non-critical makeup (only mascara and hair; skin tone, texture and eyeshadow etc can be sorted out in post.)

I'm surprised the client stood for that. (A big international advertising agency with two nearly consecutive alphabets representing the initials of their name.)

In every commercial shoot I've done, the client has never allowed more time than strictly necessary - because they know we charge proportional to the time required - and even if billed per job, every photographer tries to cut down the time required to fit in more jobs. In one particularly memorable fashion shoot I had to manage fifteen costume changes in one day - with a change of hair and makeup for each, leaving me with about five minutes per set to change lighting and shoot. And I didn't even have an art director telling me what to do, nor did the client have any clue what he wanted.

So, if you're reading this and shooting sequential portraits, think about how you're going to organize it beforehand. Nobody wants to sit around waiting for seven hours while you get your house in order in a leisurely way, nor do they want to do dozens of retakes because you can't get it right the first time. Group portraits should be done first, then release individuals as you're done, and let those at the end leave and come back. Simple.

No wonder this country is nowhere on the photography map - the best here doesn't even make the rank amateur cut overseas.

To make this post remotely photography related and at the risk of offending Fuzzbucket by straying outside the boundaries of photojournalism, I'll include some images from my aforementioned fashion shoot. Everything was shot with a Nikon D3, AFS 24-70/2.8 and lit with multiple speedlights.


  1. FAIL.... not enough boobies... and deploring lack of cleavage... what kinda shit fashion shoot was it? Designer? Model severely underexploited. Call her and tell her I've got a wetsuit assignment coming up.

  2. Some cheap crap out of China, which is why they hired me probably. Model was not a pro model (another symptom of the low budget shoot) and I suspect unpaid so cleavage was left as is.