Doing a photoshoot... even when you are miles apart.

Updated: Aug 13, 2021

How? Really? Is this possible?

YES it is!



It was time to do our annual photoshoot for National Down Syndrome Society.

But how to do this when the model and the photographer are 9000 km apart ?

It seemed impossible, but.....we did it!!!!.


In this age and time we talk and videocall with each other, even when we are continents apart from each other, so there had to be a way to do photoshoots at distance.


I started my search on the internet and soon I found articles about facetime shoots.

Maybe it sounds strange to do a photoshoot with a model when you are both on different locations, but you can get surprising results.

Photographers are looking for something else, and come up with ways to keep shooting while social distancing is required.

Bella Hadid, model, did a facetime shoot with Vogue the magazine in the beginning of the covid pandemic. Because without pictures no magazine and without a magazine no income.

And Jessica Whitaker is among the photographers pioneering this new way to create. Her article at MASTIN LABS was very useful. ( and I used some of her explanation in my blog)


Facetime shoots are a fun new way to challenge yourself as a photographer while collaborating safely.


I started reading about how to do a facetime shoot and what the things were you needed.

I talked to Tatiana ( the mother of Mia) and said that I had an idea to do our annual photoshoot, even though we are 9000 km apart!


And so our creative journey began.


"Don't limit your challenges, challenge your limits."

THE PREPARATION

Before the shoot with Mia I tested on a friend and on my niece.

So I knew what to do and how to do it. I have to tell you I had never even used facetime.

So everything was new to me.

This is the result of the facetime shoot with my friend. And I was really surprised of how good it turned out.


THE GEAR

For a name-brand FaceTime shoot, you'll need an Apple device, but you can also use other digital conference apps like Facebook Messenger, Zoom, or Google Hangouts. Some will be better equipped than others to take the photos, but anything that will allow the photographer and subject to see each other where you can take a screen capture will work.

I used my iPad pro.


FaceTime is particularly well suited because as long as both devices in play are up-to-date, you can take a Live Photo with the subject's front-facing camera that will show up in your camera roll.

And these live photo's are perfect. Because it's like a little movie of 2 seconds and you can pick the photo you like the best out of it..



THE PLAN

Planning a FaceTime photo shoot isn't that different from planning a regular shoot. A mood board will help you plot your aesthetic and mood and communicate that to the model.

So I came up with a vintage travel theme. Travel because of the limitations of travel right now and vintage because I knew I wanted to edit retro style. ( knowing that with facetime you may get more grain in the picture)

So I send this mood board to Tatiana and talked her through.




Since you won't have sharp glass or dreamy bokeh to lean on, it's good to step up the styling or interesting light.

Your model can piece together their wardrobe, hair and makeup, and any props from the info you give them. You can also show them what type of lighting you'd like to use, and they can figure out where in their space would accommodate that.


If you've never been to the location of the shoot, have your subject send some photos of the space beforehand so you can get a feel for what's available - the light, backgrounds, props, furnishings, anything you can use creatively.


So Tatiana send me some pictures from around and inside their house and I instantly loved the stairs.....because it really has a vintage feel and look. So this was perfect for our theme!


THE SETUP

If the person you're photographing has a phone tripod , that's perfect. No tripod? You could try a stack of books to lean the phone against. However you manage it, you want the subject to be able to move freely so they can pose as you direct them.

In my case some one else held the phone and I gave her directions of how to held it , up down , left , right.

So besides directing the model I also had to give directions to the one holding the phone.

And of course you'll both need a reliable, fast internet connection.


This Is Not A Selfie

Since you'll be using a selfie camera, part of your mission on a FaceTime shoot is to make sure the photos you make don't look like selfies. Think of a selfie - what are the giveaways that someone took a photo themselves.

For one, it usually shows one hand or less, since the other is holding up the phone. Shoulders often end up cut off since you can only reach so far away from yourself to take a selfie. So, you'll want to frame your subject so you can see their hands, or see that one isn't outstretched at least. As you're posing the model from afar, keep this question in the back of your mind: "does this look like a selfie?"