Month 00, 2019 / Jamie Bourgidu


Getting the Shot

Behind the Scenes of a Photoshoot

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words; it’s also made up of a thousand details—the angle of the sun, the tilt of a chin, the cast of characters, the props and wardrobe, the location, the specialty equipment, the lighting, the aperture setting, the motion, the pose, the candid moments, you get the picture. Ever wonder what exactly goes into a photo shoot? Let us give you an inside tour and how we go about “getting the shot”.

Recently, we teamed up with Aaron Lee Photography for a highly technical location shoot at the all-new Vancouver Waterfront. We deployed 3 photographers, 2 production assistants, a creative director and a lighting expert across 3 unique locations with a bevy of models over the course of 9 hours. The result? 35 pixel-perfect images. 

Creating the Shot List

We start where we always start – strategy. What are we trying to communicate? Who are we communicating to? What’s the application? What are the project goals? These questions and their answers inform the entire shoot — from the look and feel of the photos to the saturation to the scale to the orientation. From there, we put together a creative brief that outlines the visual style of the shoot, then we set to work on the shot list where we identify the individual shots we’re out to capture.


Scouting the Set

For this particular project, we were contracted to shoot a new luxury apartment property at the Vancouver Waterfront. Even though we knew the setting, we still needed to conduct a pre-shoot walkthrough to identify specific scenes and shots. Preparedness is godliness (or, the key to success).


Sourcing the Talent

These are the people selling the dream world you’ve created in the shot list – the ones who exercise every morning at dawn, have nothing but free time to casually stroll the pier, grab drinks with friends, and take in the view after a trip to the farmer’s market. Cast a wide net here, these people are the face of your campaign and should reflect the target audiences you identified as part of your strategic planning. Yes, we’re back to strategy; every decision we make gets measured against our strategic foundation, and the photos you capture should reflect the people you’re trying to attract.


Setting the Scene

To set the scene, we dial in the composition, framing and lighting – sounds simple enough, but this is when those thousand details make themselves known. Case in point:

“no” photo examples – not limited to the following:

  • Competing background

  • Photographer in the shot

  • Funny faces

  • Too dark

  • Too bright

 Photos are a bit like goldilocks, the magic of the image is in the “just right”.

Some Tricks of the Trade

Pro tips for when you almost have what you need, but not quite… Don’t let almost stand in between you and your shot. *cue Lin Manuel Miranda* I am not throwing away my shot!

  • Need to make chardonnay on set but only have beers? Add a splash of dark beer to water (still or sparkling) and swirl. Soy sauce works well too.

  • Need a white shirt for a model but don’t have one? Swap with one of the production assistants.

  • Need to film a “date night” cocktail bar scene without any visual background noise? Arrange to shoot at the restaurant before it opens. Pro, pro tip: pour real drinks, the talent will thank you.


Getting the Shot

The scene is set, lit and populated – now, you shoot, experimenting with angles, vantages and depths to capture the scene from multiple perspectives. [language about setting up shots to layer and stitch in post]


Moving through Post

The first step in post-production is elimination. We cull through the entire photo output and winnow down to a set of select best images to take through refinement. On this particular shoot we ended up with a cumulative 3,000+ images to assess.

[“no” photo examples]

[A/B photo examples]

One question we hear frequently is “Can you just photoshop it so that…? To a certain extent, yes. Correcting color, saturation, brightness, contrast and other exposure settings is pretty straightforward, as is fixing issues with blemishes or light distortions. And if the information is already there, it’s relatively simple, as in layering blue sky over an obstruction in a field of blue sky. But it’s increasingly more difficult to realistically add information that doesn’t exist (unicorns, rainbows, etc.) We work really hard in production to set up and capture the shot so edits on this end are minimal.

One thing to keep in mind is editing for a holistic set. If you’re making tweaks to the individual photos without considering the whole, it’s easy to end up with 35 images of the same time/day that all show a different shade of blue for the sky. Consistency is king.

And that’s the easy 1-2-3 of photoshoots.

And if it doesn’t sound so simple? Let us take it on for you.