It’s funny how an outcome often belies the time taken to make it happen. It certainly felt like that with our recent photoshoot: weeks in the planning but results that look effortless. This blog takes you behind the scenes and offers my retrospective take on events and the things I learned.
I had procrastinated for too long. it was time for action. I had set myself a deadline of summer 2021 to finally get a photoshoot for the business underway. The quieter time during August seemed like a perfect opportunity, but the end of the month was in sight before I finally picked up the phone to the photographer.
Looking back, it feels ridiculous that I managed to let it hang around on the to do list for such a lengthy period. I have organised shoots before, albeit within a different environment, and enjoyed them tremendously. There was no logical reason for my tardiness. I realise now that I had made some elementary mistakes:
(i) I allowed myself to get side tracked with jobs that were far less important, but which disproportionately occupied my time
(ii) I was waiting for things to calm down. Not a good strategy on the basis that things never really do. If you know you want to do something, just go for it and the time will sort itself out. It’s amazing what you can fit in when you have to.
Having booked Simon, the photographer, he asked to come to see me at home where we planned to shoot the first of the two days. We hit it off immediately. There is noting better than the creative spark that comes from working with someone who understands your vision and gets as passionate as you do about making it happen. Hearing Simon enthuse about the space and in particular the light, and watching him on the floor snapping things that never would have crossed my mind might be of interest (the cheese plant at the top of the stairs…??!), got me incredibly excited about what we could create.
Sally, the make-up artist, was equally as positive. A real expert in her field, she knew exactly what was needed. She was genuinely interested in the people she would be working with, not just their colouring and skin types, but also their personalities and preferences. On the day, she went above and beyond to make sure everyone was happy with the results. She checked in with us all as she went along, tweaking as necessary.
There were purposely no professional models for the shoot. The very ethos of Me Spot is about ‘real’ women embracing who they are. No-one has been photoshopped. Their faces and bodies are natural, untouched and perfect. just as they are.
A photoshoot is not as glamourous as it may seem, and there can be lots of waiting around. On both days, everyone was incredibly patient until the last, full of laughter and joy. Simon said he loved working with our models and it was far more fun than the professional ones he is used to.
There is nothing better than being part of a team where everyone is comfortable with their role and feels able to be themselves, rather than who they feel they should be. Authenticity and freedom to do what you do best equals spectacular results. Why do so many employers get this so badly wrong?
To get the most out of the day. Simon made it very clear to me that I needed to define exactly what needed to be shot, together with a timeline for each. Hmmm. I am used to choosing outfits, deciding which location might suit best ,and that’s it, job done. The time on the day is then spent finding the perfect shot. My brief for this was entirely different.
I wanted a library of photos that was as extensive as possible covering still life, action shots and portraits. ‘Perfect’ wasn’t the defining factor. When I started to think of all the combinations, I ended up with a huge list. How on earth was I going to narrow it down? In addition, never having worked with Simon before, I was looking for inspiration images (see the one on the left below) for each one to illustrate what I wanted.
All incredibly time consuming. Many hours of work later, I managed to distill my thoughts down in to some sort of logic. I finally had a plan!
I thought I had better have a trial run so things could be set up on the day with ease to make the most of the time available. Thank goodness I did. It became very clear very quickly that the equipment I had was not going to cut it. Cue a shopping frenzy. The chef was then tasked with schlepping around to various stores to pick it all up!! Delegation might be one thing I could often do better but in this case, I seemed to find it very easy!!!
The final countdown
The day before the indoor shoot, the office looked like a kit room. In every doorway hung a selection of clothing that I had washed and ironed in case they were needed! It didn’t stop there. The kitchen was in full swing as the chef cooked up a delicious lunch. By 9pm that evening when we finally finished, I was feeling pretty exhausted but held on to the fact that the preparation is the most time-consuming (and that there would be a make-up artist on hand to cover the dark circles!!!) Things could only run more smoothly as a result.
And so it turned out to be. The weather did us proud for both the indoor and the outdoor shoot and they went brilliantly. The camaraderie was incredibly special and there’s no question that, as a result, the photos we have are way better than I thought they ever could be.
Reality played out very differently to what I had first imagined. My worries about the weather, coordinating the amount of people I needed, and countless other things proved unfounded.
Therein lies a final, and perhaps most important lesson, When stepping beyond our comfort zone we imagine things to be so much worse than they usually are. If there’s something you have been putting off , don’t wait any longer! Face the barriers, move forward regardless and watch them tumble down!
Huge thanks to everyone who was involved in the two fantastic days of shooting. I am so grateful for your help and delighted with what we have been able to create together.