DO Communicate Clearly
When you have a vision for the shoot, be sure to make it as clear as possible to the beauty team. “For me personally, just because we’re working in a visual medium, it’s better if I have those ideas communicated visually,” Khan says. “I like a mood board, some paragraphs surrounding that concept is cool, but usually the key is photo references and preferably within a few days before the shoot.” Sharing is important. “I have worked with some photographers who, maybe they have done all the planning, and they have done all the creative, but they’re not sharing it with you, the people there that are closest or next to the concept,” Khan says. “The communication usually goes ‘Okay, we want this’ but I don’t know why or in what setting and for what purpose, and so it leaves me lacking some of the information I need to give you what you need to succeed.” Not only that, but you should also supply relevant shoot day details in a production book of some kind: what is the shooting schedule? What is the location, and did you provide a map? How many models are there? What time are they coming? What time are they needed on set? “I [like to] know how all of the moving parts are going before hand,” Khan says. “That is such a stress reliever.
DO Manage Your Time and Your Team’s Time Well
The moment you arrive on set, with models, beauty team, and possibly clients waiting for you, is not the time to wing it. Know exactly what you want to do beforehand, and let your team know in advance. “You have to come in with a plan, with a shot list, have your creative ideas clearly communicated to everyone that’s there,” Khan says. “This way when we get to a shoot day it’s just a matter of executing what we’ve already discussed and we kind of know how much time we have to work with.” The day of, your shooting schedule doesn’t have to be rigid and you can leave room for change, but remember your team is arriving very early in the morning and they don’t want to stay until late at night because of a lack of time management. And along those lines, it’s okay to ask for your beauty team’s input before the shoot, but remember you are using their time and should be paying them accordingly if you do ask them to help you develop the creative weeks in advance—Khan herself prefers knowing logistics a few days beforehand.
DO Have an Organized Set
“I love when the shoot’s really well-produced,” Khan says. “It’s really thoughtful to everyone that shows up. The days can really be so long so when the photographer, or if the photographer’s even hired a producer and everything is just thought through, it takes so much of the stress off.” You can minimize stress with elements like the aforementioned production book, a call sheet, and even catering, Khan says: “It’s not like I can run out and grab lunch most of the time and it’s just overall it’s great to run into that.” Keep your set physically organized, too: try to have a minimum of wires and cables all over the place because they can impact everyone on your set if they’re exposed, messy, or faulty (read: electrocution and tripping, yikes!). “When there’s lots of cords and electrical situations are shoddy, [and] I’m working with appliances and hairdryers, the last thing I need is to get electrocuted or any of my appliances to be destroyed,” Khan says. Everyone on set should be able to get their job done without any undue stress or damage from the set itself.
DON’T Take Contracts and Negotiations for Granted
Before you get to set, make sure you have all of your contracts and rates negotiated with your client for yourself and your entire team, Khan says. If you’re too relaxed, you end up putting not only yourself but your team members in a situation where they’re not getting what they deserve or expect, and that’s unpleasant for everyone involved. What exactly is being shot, and what is everyone getting for the work being done on those images that are being produced? It’s important to know this beforehand so payments accurately reflect the work.
DO Remain Professional at All Times
This seems like a no-brainer, but as a photographer you lead the set and your actions set the tone for the whole day, Khan says. Sometimes being on set can be really informal, but if you’re engaging in a kind of conversation that wouldn’t happen in an office environment, it’s not the right kind of conversation to be having. This also goes without saying, but the beauty team are all professionals taking time to work with you and help you develop your vision, and they’re to be respected and appreciated; in other words, don’t bark orders at people. You’re all in the same boat working toward one goal, and the environment should be collaborative, not antagonistic. “That collaborative process is a great feeling,” Khan says. “I had a really great shoot recently with a great, all-girl crew. The photographer had a really ambitious creative concept and we did it together and she was open to my thoughts on things that I’m an expert on, hair and makeup and color and how they might fit in with her concept and that feels good. It feels like I’m contributing something valuable to the end result. I love that.”