Miami fashion photographer, Grayson Hoffman, explains the planning, preparation and creative process of fashion photoshoots.
What goes on behind the scenes from concept to execution?
Photoshoots are great fun when the key ingredients come together. The first thing we do is get together with the client and discuss their vision and ideas. Whether it is a designer looking to shoot their line, a company with a specific concept or a model wanting to update the portfolio - we try to get to know the client and understand what they are looking to achieve. Next, we book the hair, make-up and wardrobe stylists and select the models. Once we have the studio arranged and the team assembled, we take time to plan and prepare for the shoot. Mood boards and portfolios are used for gathering inspiration and setting expectations. While on set, we like to tether the camera to a large screen (or two) so that everyone can view the images in real time and make any adjustments necessary to get the photo as close to perfect as possible in camera. After finishing the shoot, we choose - from the thousands of images - the top few to be edited and delivered to the client.
On average how long does it take you to complete the editing process?
Editing the photos takes, on average, about two weeks. We use many different tools and outlets depending on the desired photos. We have outstanding retouchers on standby to assist us with high-quality results and, of course, we use our own advanced Photoshop skills to edit and add the finishing touches before presenting to the client.
What are the greatest challenges you face with each shoot?
Every shoot brings challenges on several levels. On the logistics side: Will everyone find the location, bring everything they need and work smoothly as a group? On the business side: Are we getting the shots that the client wants? On the creative side: am I able to capture the artistic images that I have in my mind?
And sometimes, no matter how much advanced preparation you have done, things don't work out as planned, and you need to just be flexible and roll with the punches.
Photoshoots can be similar to events in the way that anything can happen. How do you prepare yourself to be ready for surprises or changes in plans?
Photoshoots certainly have their surprises, but we take every possible precaution when planning the shoot. Take, for example, the weather. Just like any event being planned outdoors, there always needs to be a rain plan. Sometimes for us that means having our team set aside two days to complete the shoot, or often we have an indoor location on standby in case of rain. Also, we come prepared with our own backup materials. We have a full makeup kit and hairstyling tools which we take to every shoot - just in case. We also bring a selection of garments to each shoot - you can never be too prepared.
What is the key to getting the right images you need from models? How do you communicate your vision?
When working with models, I make sure to give directions and create a comfortable working environment. We are on the same team and before shooting I make sure they understand what look and style we are trying to achieve. I also make a point to show them the images throughout the shoot. The models respond well to having an active part in creating the photographs. I like to get to know the models before the assignment and get them excited about the shoot.
What is your advice for new models? What can they do to be comfortable, professional and deliver great results for each shoot?
My advice to new models would be to shoot often and be open to new opportunities. I have been very lucky and had the pleasure of working with great models - many of whom I now call friends. I would advise new models to be prepared and don’t be afraid to bring some of your own ideas to the shoot. Ultimately, have fun with it! Some of our favorite models are those who are easy to work with and have a good time while on set. Be yourself.
Finally, what are your favorite types of shoots - i.e. beauty, fashion, swim, etc.?
Each type of shoot has its own personality. Some are relaxed and creative, while others are more specific and confined. Fashion photography is probably one of my favorite types because of the opportunities to be creative. And for fashion shoots I have a team of very talented individuals - hairstylist, makeup artist, wardrobe stylist and assistants - with whom I like to work. We always get great photographs together and have a lot of fun in the process!
His work can be seen online via GraysonHoffman.com.