Thursday, February 13, 2014

Day 32, Learning 32: Client 'Bring Lists' and Communication

I just wrapped up a portrait session with an actress, so I thought I'd touch base on the "bring list" and other considerations.  First, I'll say that what made the session so great, was the attitude and experience of the model/actor.  She knew how to move, had a sense of how she looked on camera, took the session seriously, offered input, took director, gave trust.  Our shots evolved far beyond the actor headshots we originally planned.  Based on her approach alone, I have no doubt she's a fine actress, because those are exactly the attributes you want as a stage director.

I can't stress enough the importance of the pre-shoot communication.  You need to completely understand what they want out of the session.  She initially said she wanted "headshots."  That's the term actors use exclusively, but models and corporate clients use the term as well.  Furthermore, a stage headshot is different than a film headshot.  90% of stage theatre headshots are truly that-- head and shoulder.  The lighting should be bright, friendly, and the expression needs to communicate a willingness to be open and do the work.  90% of film headshots will include the torso or more.  Film directors want to know the fully physicality before the audition. 

After you learn about their needs, WRITE THE CONTRACT.  Tell them you'll bring it with you.  Make sure you have their contact info including mobile phone number.  If they are willing to send you a recent picture of themselves, that's great, because you can start to plan.  My client's image told me a number of things:  I should be playing with warm tones to match her skin (including a warming gel on her rim light, and warm background tones); her face would do well in butterfly and broad lights (I was wrong about this... the majority of our images short light); jewelry would be helpful; and a number of poses came to mind.  I decided to bring a tux shirt (we didn't use) and a fedora (we did).

DISCUSS THE OUTFITS -- this is the "Bring List."  For women I typically recommend:
3-5 outfits of different types
2 pairs of shoes, different types
Scarf or shawl
Accessories, like earrings, bracelets, necklaces, gloves

With the outfits I recommend a white button down shirt, a "little black dress" or colored equivalent, and something that is off the shoulder or spaghetti strap.  I tell them if there our outfits that consist of layers, it gives us more to play with, and most importantly they should like/feel comfortable in whatever they bring.

For men the list is similar, only smaller:
3 complete outfits
Accessories like hat or scarf
Any item, thing that they feel is truly them.*

*This is the big difference.  Men get passionate about things-- cars, watches, shoes, ties, gadgets.  Unless this is for a corporate client, it's not a bad idea to have them bring whatever it is if they want.

And don't forget to send a "looking forward to our shoot" email the day before, with all of the information: time, place, logistics, repeated.

These lists are, of course, for lifestyle types shoots and non-corporate headshots.  Family photos, musician/artists, and corporate are different....

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