So I can’t really publish photos from the shoot just cause magazines want exclusive of the story but no one said I can post pre-production info, right? =)
Okay so I work in the LA Fashion District and I almost always take the train to work. That said, if do decide to go to somewhere after work (i.e. networking event, drinks, dinner, errands, more drinks, etc), I get there by public transportation. This has given me the opportunity to see more of downtown since I’m meandering all the time. I have to admit that I started liking the place. Then out of nowhere one day, I just thought, “wouldn’t it be cool to do a shoot of someone gallivanting around downtown.” OMG it would be!
That’s pretty much it. I started walking around looking for places to shoot and I started watching 500 Days of Summer several times a week. If I like a location, I take a snapshot of it and note the details about the location (sun position, crowd, etc), and started a location board (yeah check the date on that…Dec 26…and that was when I already had all these figured out):
At night I scoured magazines, websites, portfolios, etc for photos that resembled what I wanted to do. I put a moodboard together and sent both along with casting information.
After a couple of weeks I got hair/makeup and 2 stylists.
Moodboard. Check. Location board. Check. Models…
Took a while to book them because I had to have an even more solid plan to present to their agencies. I spent some more time refining the moodboard and the location board which I then turned into a storyboard. To do that, I had to revisit the locations several times just so I know the following:
1. What the sun is doing at specific parts of the day
2. What the crowds are like at those parts of the day.
3. How long it takes to get from the basecamps (areas where we set up for hair, makeup, and wardrobe changes) to each of the locations.
4. Where to park for each of the locations.
5. The order of the shots. This matters because we have to follow the movement of the sun, crowd conditions (don’t want to be shooting at location A at a certain time because it gets crowded), the flow of the traffic (don’t want to be heading to location D too late because of traffic), and other miscellaneous issue (had to time a particular shot at a particular time so a train is in the background) .
Downtown LA is a MESS. Saturday mornings are killers and it once took me about twenty minutes to go about ten blocks. It has so many things going on that it’s a colossal task to orchestrate everything so that it doesn’t go out of hand – controlled chaos if you may. All those visits and revisits allowed the creation of the storyboard, a vision of how each shot should look like (roughly), and an itinerary (roughly). When I did contact their agencies, I presented a rather solid plan of what I wanted to do. I was able to talk to them about how the shoot was going to go and what’s expected of their models. It helps having stuff like these figured out because when you’re working with agencies and other professionals they need to know that their time is going to be worthwhile. They would not want to go into a shoot and spend half the time figuring stuff like routes, parking, lighting, and then just end up “winging” the entire thing when they could have gone to a casting or done paid bookings. Creativity alone is not enough. Ever heard of “writer’s block”? Well there’s a photography version of that. You really want to throw that risk in the mix when you have equipment/location fees on the line and half a dozen people on payroll? Nope. I didn’t think so. I wouldn’t do any project any other way. This is the way I do things whether it’s just for my book or for a major print publication. This is the way I do things whether it’s paid or unpaid. This is the way I do things, period.
Actually no. Give me a nice budget and I’ll split the shoot into two days and block the streets to those locations to create a closed set. Yup. Totally. The rest is going to be the same though.