Don’t forget to have fun at the photo shoot

Tip 28 for Better Shoots by Heidi Rondak

“Let the Photo Shoot Begin”

PART 3: 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.

The class clown is worth their weight in gold!

Every photo shoot needs at least one person who’s a ray of sunshine and someone who’s a natural-born entertainer. Laughing is contagious and for the above reasons these two characters will cheer up everyone’s day. They can be one person or several, and if that’s you, congratulations! – You’ll always be everyone’s darling and experience great photo shoots (: Otherwise, us ordinary mortals who choose to be wise instead of funny (which is lovable too!), in our wisdom, we are aware of the need for a pleasant atmosphere on set and the consequent dependency on finding someone to perform as the production’s clown.

Fun fact: In German, we say that someone had a clown for breakfast when they’re in a particularly funny mood and goofing around. So why don’t you cater for a bunch of edible clowns for your shoot? (Okay, that sounds like bringing drugs into the game… No, please don’t do drugs on set – those times are over, haha!) 

All joking aside, if you don’t want your photo shoot to be a funeral train, please pay attention to the characters you hire and make sure someone’s going to bring along the good vibes! For example: are the photographer or the digital operator giggles? Then prepare yourself for refreshingly sore abdominal muscles at the end of the day – and a great team play in the first place, of course!

Speaking of stomach sensations – “hangry” people don’t like jokes

The way to a (hu)man’s heart is through their stomach. Literally, feed your team – otherwise, they might bite instead of laughing at your genius jokes. For example, bait them with chocolate (and maybe something healthy) and they will thank you with #crewloveistruelove hashtags on social media. If it’s not for their love and appreciation the catering is still worth every cent (or *insert your currency*) since photo teams are like honey bees: they have the ability to turn calories into great photos! If that’s not yet convincing why don’t you just organise something yummy for stunning #behindthescenes posts stating your generosity and the high life on set?! Needless to say, this is only an option if the feelgood factor of the photo team is a bearable side effect for you – after all, you’ll have to communicate to them as described in my last tip “Thy (the client’s) will be done” (:

Speaking of wellbeing – don’t freeze or fry your team

This one is challenging: most fashion collections need to be photographed during the opposite season each. That implies the high risk that especially the model is either freezing cold wearing summer wear in winter or near to a heat stroke when wrapped in winterly clothes during a hot summer day – and not happy at all! When the shoot takes place in a photo studio it’s relatively easy to produce relief by turning up the heating or using air conditioning, fans, and providing chilled drinks and ice cream (no joke). When working outdoors, the whole team is potentially struggling with extreme temperatures and likely to fall into a whining mindset – not so fun! Beyond everyone’s own responsibility to dress properly and stay hydrated, whoever is organising the production must, therefore, pay attention to the weather conditions the team is going to be put through. Namely, in glazing heat, you’ll definitely need a shady place nearby or e.g. brought along parasols, sunscreen, and enough water, the least. In the cold, some remedies can be mushroom heaters, Thermos bottles with hot beverages, blankets, hot patches, or a warm place to enter on every occasion.

Although photo teams are hard-boiled (from earlier clients who let them work in the plain sun all day) and usually keeping cool (because their hearts are frozen, again from the work with other clients) they’ll be highly grateful for humane working conditions. Your good sense to refuse a shoot on the Mount Everest will be rewarded with their goodwill and a twinkle in their eye (;

Chill some bubbly to make it an unforgettable highlight

This is definitely just a nice-to-have but fun for sure! Unwinding together with an after-work beer or glass of champagne tops off the day perfectly. With this little trick, you convey that you had a great time and if people are equally willing to celebrate the success all together you know that they were satisfied too. You’ve probably done a good job bonding with them in the first place and pulling a remarkable production together. Oh, there have been frictions during the day, or you didn’t get the chance to connect with everyone? Then this is, on the other hand, a possibility to bend things straight and bond with the team afterward. In fact, alcohol is not essential to leaven the atmosphere – if you prefer to stand your honey bees dinner for socialising, go ahead!

Last but not least: no one is perfect, everyone matters

The foundation of any good collaboration is a respectful way of dealing with each other. Gandhi once said: “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members”. Applied to the work environment of a photo shoot this means that how the ones along the bottom of the hierarchy, like e.g. the assistants, set runners, etc. are treated defines the quality of the whole production because the whole work, in fact, is built on their contribution too. Therefore, if the key players’ input to the atmosphere is “airs and graces” (which probably roots in low self-esteem, sorry) this just obstructs the crucial communication described in tip no. 27 and no. 25 and results in a likewise inept output by the helping hands. Thus, by implication: if everyone on set is being humble and nice to each other even in challenging situations, people will rather go the extra mile for the sake of great results. Therefore, the attributes of a good production etiquette are serenity, politeness, kindness, diplomacy, and appreciation. On top of that your playfulness is a very welcome bonus.

“The attributes of a good production etiquette are serenity, politeness, kindness, diplomacy, and appreciation.”


If you enjoyed reading this article, or you found it helpful in one way or the other, I would love to know (reach out)! You are also welcome to support my work and writing by donating whichever amount this is worth to you. I will thank you with lots of telepathic love and more interesting journal entries. Cheers!


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