This is the fourth part of the series Studio Photography: Shooting the $2million image - Planning.
Most photographers are not natural planners. If you come from a landscape background, you expect to be inspired by what you find. Photojournalists look for the decisive moment. Press photographers were always told ‘f8 and be there’. But even the most spontaneous photographer needs at least the basic planning of having their equipment ready when the moment happens.
In studio photography, nothing is there unless you planned it to be there. Planning is the essential connection between concept and the final image. As the old saying goes: ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’.
Now, before we go any further, we need to put to rest a false hope that many photographers have when they construct a home studio. Their idea is that their home studio can become complete: it can contain all the lights they ever wanted, an infinitely flexible backdrop system, a home for all their bodies and lenses. I did once visit a studio built on that principle. Although it contained everything, the results that came out of it were dull, predictable, and rather amateur (in the bad sense). The truth is that such a space is not a studio, it’s a warehouse. If you want to build a studio space, great, go ahead, but don’t try to buy all the bits that will make it comprehensive. You’re better off spending your money per shoot. Over time, you will acquire all kinds of odd things that are cheaper to buy than rent, but that’s for later. Always remember that studio photography is not about a space, it’s about an approach. The ‘studio’ is people and a process, not a place.
Right now, let’s look at planning. For our example, I’m going to look at a shoot which I did to promote my branding business a few years ago. There’s a problem about doing shoots to promote your own work: you never have the same professional detachment you have when working for someone else. On the other hand, it does give us a complete, and tidy, example of start-to-finish planning.
Once more this is an open air shoot. We will get back to an indoor setting eventually in this series, but this one offers some particular planning problems.
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