Fashion Editorial Photo-shoot

Impromptu fashion editorial shoot with Meghan in Taylor, Michigan.

I shot with Meghan about a week ago, something on the line of an impromptu head-shot session. We chatted about doing a shoot for a while, and my schedule finally cleared up enough to where I could fit in a fun shoot. We spent an hour knocking out a few poses and playing around with lighting. I gave up on my studio strobe within 10 minutes, and let the ambient light do its thing as the light quality was pretty magical; it's a shame to waste summer glow.

Impromptu shoots are my favorite way to meet people, and keep my creative edge. You have to befriend a person in a matter of 15 minutes, knock out a game plan in the same time, and pull off some epic photos all before the shoot is over.

Befriending a person in 15 minutes sounds crazy, but it's not impossible, it takes a consistent barrage of questions and stories that help build your subject's confidence. Once your subject is confident, you need to establish the human connection. My favorite way to doing this is by discussing life goals, everyone can get behind their life goals, and it's easy to nerd out over aspirations. I've noticed that the human connection is the most critical aspect of capturing honest portraits, people act more like them selves and let their character show when they feel like they're among friends, rather than a "vendor" or "photographer".

Concepting on the spot, and visualizing potential shots takes a lot of practice, but once you have it down it helps you consistently knock out killer shots. I went into this shoot knowing the general location (an entire park) and time of day (afternoon), but nothing much past that. I had a trunk full of modifiers, flags and studio strobes at my disposal, so I knew whatever came out was going to be pretty interesting. As I was burning shots, getting to know Meghan, and teaching her a few tricks for the camera, I decided to pull out a studio strobe and an octabox. This set-up has been pretty successful in the past, but due to the time of day and our location, the low-key look dulled too much of the environment, so I ended up using just ambient light. You can see the difference lighting makes when you look at the first shot in the series vs the rest. The high-key look totally suits Meghan better.

Making decisions on the spot, humanizing talent and being confident in your final product is why I view impromptu shoots as critical practice for any professional photographer. As creatives, without consistent experimenting and finessing we risk falling behind on our own craft, and at that point we become fauxtographers.