Retouching is a Real Job

It’s a wrap and we’ve finally reached the last chapter of this column – the post-production. But don’t crow too soon! There’s very much to learn about the different aspects of post-production… We’re in fact going to deal with three different sections composed of several articles on A. the photo editing, B. the buyout, and C. the data-handling. So relax your shoulders, take a deep breath in and press your worry stone, because there’s work ahead of us. As the client, your part in the editing process will mainly be to judge the results, select which pictures need to be retouched, and instruct the editor about the formats and style you wish to have as well as pointing out the flaws that need to be corrected. Doesn’t sound too hard of a task, right?
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corona regulations, hygiene concept for photo and video productions

How to photo/video shoot during the COVID-19 pandemic

The end of 2020 is near and, due to the Coronavirus, we’ve all had to live up to unusual rules, especially in terms of our social lives but also of how we work in photo and video productions safely. Despite all efforts and the upcoming vaccines, uncertainties and limitations are likely to be part of our professional activities for some time to come, at least to be expected for the first half of 2021. This is demanding a fair bit of flexibility, responsibility, and therefore, focussing on new topics, especially hygiene, to ensure that producing photography and videos isn’t turning into super-spreader events.
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Don’t forget to have fun at the photo shoot

I know how serious you are about the outcome of your campaign but the news is: laughing is always allowed – even at fashion shoots. I dare say it’s even essential for the atmosphere on set. Laughter lowers people’s stress levels, releases happiness hormones, and helps defeat infections (which isn’t only relevant during global pandemics but also when shooting fashion in winter). Ergo, your friendliness and sense of humour can be the keys to a great collaboration for they’re helping to overcome shyness and resolve any tensions. If you’re hoping for people’s best performance which I don’t doubt you should aim for a fun day with them. Along these lines, this article is about how to lighten up the mood and enjoy a sociable photo shoot with a happy team.
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Thy (the client’s) will be done

Based on your own experience or after reading my last article “Simulation of a typical photo production day” you may already have a sure feeling for how a commercial photo shoot works. With this in mind hiring and briefing a team of professionals to operate it according to a smart schedule is half the battle when creating a new campaign. Yet, there’s more that you or your deputies can do in their role as the client. In this article, we’re looking at the very things that YOU ideally contribute to a frictionless production with great results – which no one else is entitled to do. 
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Simulation of a typical photo production day

So the shooting day has arrived and you’re as good as certain excited to go about the production. If you feel any nervousness, don’t worry as you’ve probably done a good job with preparing and hiring a professional team who has your back. Even if unexpected obstacles occur they can probably be solved if everyone keeps calm and uses their expert brains. And hey, even in the worst-case life goes on. A photo shoot won’t cause your whole business to go belly-up, however, you can learn from all mistakes that might happen (now or in the past) to do it better next time. Therefore, transform any feelings of tension into motivation and cheerfulness. Your positive vibes will certainly rub off on the team and remove some of the pressure.
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Let’s say it loud and clear

As I’m praising in tips No. 21 and 22 where it’s about creating and verifying a mood board that illustrates your concept communicating with the team is the way to get the results that you want for your campaign. From the visuals to the negotiations and booking based on contracts to the clocking of the day’s routine, everything is a way of providing information but can sometimes be subject to misunderstandings when lacking personal communication – be it verbal or written. This article is, therefore, devoted to the importance of transparency and dedicated talking. Eventually, the photo shoot can only go according to the proposed plan if those who are commissioned to fulfil it know every aspect of what you had in mind. Integrating this inherent part in the process of preparing the production will prevent time-consuming and stressful discussions on set as well as keep up a good atmosphere of friendly co-working on top of a flawless photographic result.
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Why no commercial photo shoot will work out without a proper schedule

As you’ve probably read my last tip on the booking of the ideal team constellations you might now have a sketchy idea of how many people there are going to be on set of your campaign shoot. Thus, you can possibly imagine that all these people will need guidance throughout the day in order to avoid some sort of chaos taking place – especially when you don’t like to answer questions all the time. It might not be news to you that briefing your team is essential. But it can turn out that informing them about what is going to be done isn’t enough of a plan. Likewise, shall it be important to communicate the how and when because they enhance the logic and logistics of the whole production. It’s, therefore, smart to give all tasks and scenes definite time frames in advance by which everyone can repeatedly check if they’re able to accomplish the workload in time.
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Book your storybook team

With your concept in the shape of a mood board and as soon as you have a clear notion of the budget that you’d like to spend on your new campaign photos you can begin to book your professional team and everything you’ll need for the production additionally. Like it’s described in tip no. 4 there’s more to include in the calculation than just the main players (which are the models, the photographer, the hair & make-up artist, the fashion stylist, and possibly an external art director). After all, they could certainly all use assistants and some set runners who are there to help wherever they’re needed. In specific cases location supervisors or security guards are necessary, the latter especially when you shoot with valuable products like jewellery. And as we’re dealing with humans who have basic needs there’s no way around organising catering for the day. On top of all the fees for the people involved there possibly are equipment, location, and prop rents to be paid, or other things to be bought. Last but not least a fair part of your expenses are flowing into your license that allows you to actually use the resulting photos for your purpose.
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Let your mood board undergo a reality check

Following the guidelines of my last tip, your mood board may by now be ready to be seen by others. At this point, always be careful with the copyrights of the mood material because sharing will be a form of publication for which you actually need a license of each copyright holder and the models shown (and on top of that the legal prerequisites are different in every country). In order to be on the complete safe side here, you can find a good range of useful creative commons photos on stock photo platforms some of which even offer images for free, e.g. Unsplash, Pexels, or pixabay. If you’re seeking even more professional content that was for example published in fashion magazines earlier, you can find a good variety on gettyimages, however, you’ll need to invest a bit of cash in it. Besides the copyright aspect, this article treats a few further stages where you’ll be able to touch up the mood board and make it a masterpiece. 
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Mastering the art of mood board creation

After reading the last article’s advice you might be eager to finally learn how to create a mood board by yourself, according to your own shooting idea. Ultimately, it’s the most creative part in a campaign shoot and it secretly makes you the true artist. Yet, for some, it might not be clear what a mood board is exactly, let alone what to consider a good versus a great mood board. By definition, mood boards can be different kinds of presentations that combine images, text, etc. on a topic to convey a feeling about it. Such a mood board can serve as a script that, at first, wins over a good photo team and then functions like a briefing that everybody draws on during the preparation and the production day. Therefore, mood boards are communication tools and a superior one clearly distinguishes which pictures are describing what elements of the photo shoot resp. which guidelines are who’s cup of tea. After all, you certainly want to avoid that the hair & make-up artist styles a model after a mood picture that was actually just there to characterise the light situation you wanted. 
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How to get inspired for a campaign shoot

The last three tip articles have revealed to us who is needed to execute a photo shoot successfully. Now, as we know that we’re dealing with a team of at least 4 people (a photographer, a model, a hair & make-up artist and a fashion stylist) we want to make sure that everyone shares the same vision of what is going to be produced so that they can do their best in their fields. Therefore, this article and the following two are going to treat the most important puzzle piece of any photo shoot: the concept and its making.
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Hire a fashion stylist and your products will look their best

In the fashion industry, we usually say ‘stylist’ when we’re referring to the fashion/wardrobe stylist. Therefore, they are often confused with the hairstylist or even the make-up artist by non-professionals. Many people aren’t aware of the fact that a photoshoot with people requires a fashion stylist but they are indeed a necessity even if you advertise a car or a new toothbrush – not to mention when you want to sell the fashion itself. In the following, I’m going to name a couple of reasons why hiring a stylist will make the photos you commissioned look as professional as you imagined them in the first place.
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Talking to Elisa Bouchon

When the world was still in order, one day, Elisa Bouchon’s work caught my eye on Instagram. I couldn’t help but reach out and tell her how much I admired her imagery. The sets she creates are so interesting, organic, and sensitive – you actually want to grasp them. So we exchanged numbers and talked a bit but didn’t have the chance to meet and chat in person yet. Facing the lockdowns caused by COVID-19 the work of many artists transformed and so did Elisa’s – again I was impressed, and this time by her striking self-portraits. So I asked her for a video call as opposed to my previous interviews when I used to emphasise physical meetings. Necessity is the mother of invention and like in any crisis people surpass themselves.
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Why you should not shoot without professional hairstyling & make-up

Like I said in my last article a professional model is usually well-groomed and this limits the work in post-production to a necessary minimum. However, for your shoot, it’s, moreover, of great importance to have a hairstylist and make-up artist on board. While in the fashion metropolises these are two different jobs, in many smaller industries, one professional does both. Other than the title might suggest, the make-up artist is not only responsible for the facial make-up but also for the overall appearance of the model’s skin, finger- and toenails. In some productions, these tasks are divided too – be it because of the workload or the fact that someone’s a specialist in something required for the look, e.g. a nail artist. This also leads us to the fact that MUAs (make-up artists) can be allrounders but also have different styles and talents. Depending on your concept you might want to have a close look at their portfolios to find the right one for your production.
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The importance of the model for a successful campaign

In this chapter, we’re focussing on the team and its importance for your photoshoot. We can agree that we need a professional photographer (at least I hope you do) and this is why I’m just going to elaborate on the roles of professional models, make-up artists, hairstylists, and fashion stylists with the next three posts. This article is explaining what you need to know about models and why your campaign can be more successful when it’s photographed with a professional one who is signed at an agency. 
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COVID-19 – what about the creative and media industry?

With the COVID-19 crisis, we are facing an economical disaster from which politicians are trying to save us. In Germany, Finance Minister Scholz and Economics Minister Altmaier reported at a press conference on the 13th of March that they will guarantee the liquidity of all businesses regardless of their size. Tax breaks (in the sense of postponing deadlines) and loans should be made possible immediately and even unbureaucratically, the latter with the governmental support for guarantee banks. These actions certainly make sense and in many cases, they represent a true solution. However, in plain English, it means that we need to get over the period of job cancelations with borrowed money that is to be repaid later on. In other words: we should run into debts! There’s more detailed information about these possibilities provided by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy here.
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Corona – was ist mit der Kreativ- und Medienbranche?

Die Corona-Krise stellt die Wirtschaft vor einen Abgrund, die Politik versucht sie zu bewahren. Heute mittag berichteten Finanzminister Scholz und Wirtschaftsminister Altmaier in einer Pressekonferenz, dass sie die Liquidität von Unternehmen aller Größenordnungen gewährleisten werden. Dies soll mit Steuererleichterungen (im Sinne von Fristverschiebung) und der staatlichen Unterstützung von Bürgschaftsbanken geschehen, die uns ermöglichen sollen Kredite aufzunehmen, sogar unbürokratisch und schnell. Diese Maßnahmen machen sicherlich Sinn und stellen in vielen Fällen eine Lösung dar. Dennoch bedeuten sie im Klartext, dass wir die Zeit der Auftragsausfälle mit geliehenem Geld überbrücken sollen, das zu einem späteren Zeitpunkt wieder zurückgezahlt werden soll. In anderen Worten: wir sollen uns verschulden! Genauere Informationen hierüber liefert das Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie hier.
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Interview with photographer Dale Grant photographed by Heidi Rondak

Talking to Dale Grant

The first time I met Dale Grant it was summer and we were at a dinner party ’chez Norbert Cheminel’, a mutual friend of ours. It’s hard to describe what a lovely evening we had – with good wines, French homemade food, one loveable dog, and ten beautiful human souls sitting and eventually dancing together. While Dale was claiming that he and Hercules were just invited in order to bring ’Blitz’ (the dog) he revealed himself as a joyful and entertaining person who at the next moment conjured his new photo book ’Fading Beauty’ up as a present for the hosts. I could just catch a glimpse at it that evening but I was listening carefully when he mentioned that he switched genres from fashion to fine art flower photography with great success. Very interesting – by this, he made it on my ’photographers to interview’ list! A good while after that evening I reached out to talk to him a little more and we met at Café Berio in Berlin-Schöneberg. I realised we had much more in common than just our photography… And finally, I received my own signed copy of ’Fading Beauty’.
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Tip 16 for Better Shoots by Heidi Rondak

Directions of light – Why you shouldn’t always look on the bright side

By reading my last three tip articles you had the opportunity to gain basic knowledge about different kinds of light such as natural light, flashlights, and continuous light. By bringing reflectors and diffusers into play the possibilities of modifying light beams to be soft or hard, wide-angle or focused, direct or indirect are game-changing. However, there’s one thing left to be discussed: the effects of the light’s direction on the model and fashion. 
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Tip 15 for Better Shoots by Heidi Rondak

When to use continuous light for your campaign photography

It’s almost needless to say but for the sake of completeness: continuous light is designed for film making. For photography flashes offer the most efficient way of lighting a set – they save energy due to releasing light for just a short amount of time, yet they are powerful and furthermore do they come with plenty sorts of light shapers, which are mostly easy to build up and attach. However, continuous light has one very clear advantage: you can see the light of the setup even before the first photo or footage is taken and it’s, therefore, a good way for non-professionals to start understanding light – or at least to be confident of the light situation created.
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