Andrew: Since we’ve been through our fair share of photo-shoots (as you would have read), we thought we’d compile some of our own personal tips for outdoor photo-shoots that might be beneficial to our readers! This post also provides an excuse for us to share pics that we missed out on in our previous shoots! The post gets super geeky along the way – so be warned.
1. PLAN. Be clear on where you want to go, the time between each location, the costumes at each location and the rough time of the day you’ll be at each location.
[Usually the photographer will advise, but it’s important to know what you want as well, so the photographer can give better advice.]
Hasmine: Our favourite time to shoot is after 4pm. While most people would think that that would be too dark, our maternity photographer told us that the hour before sunset is known as the golden hour, where you can capture lots of flares in the photos for that imperfect yet dreamy feel:
These are also late afternoon/ pre-sunset shots in Shanghai:
2. Based on point 1, plan your outfits to
a) coordinate with each other and b) suit or stand out against the chosen locale.
Jasmine: For b), if you want a soft romantic feel, choose similar colours. Conversely, if you want to pop against the backdrop, choose strong or contrasting colours.
I am not a fan of matchy-matchy, so you won’t catch us dressing in identical T-shirts or anything. It was my mum who many years ago gave me the best tip in colour coordinating: when you wear a dress, the man’s outfit should pick up one colour in that dress.
As you can see above, Andrew’s polka dot shirt picks up the white in my lace dress. We also tried to stay in the same tonal family, with my purple feather clip being a few shades away from his blue chambray shirt. This suits the background, which is lilac, white and pale blue.
Another way to look coordinate is to coordinate your patterns instead of your colours. This set of family outfits may seem unrelated at first glance, but if you look closely, we are all wearing a stripe or plaid pattern:
On the busy pedestrian thoroughfare of Nanjing Lu in Shanghai, this helped us look unified and stand out against the many passers-by.
To match the gritty, industrial aesthetic of 1933, we went with monochromes for a strong graphic feel. The boys wore white and black with suspenders, and I also went with a shrunken BCBG leather jacket, ribbon top and jeans (instead of my usual girly dresses)- but the multi-coloured ribbons add visual interest to what would otherwise be a rather stark ensemble, while the jeans are hunter green so it doesn’t look too drab. (Andrew: Nobody cares.)
To save time but still incorporate a costume change, layer coordinated winter wear on top of your smart casual outfits… then remove outer layer!
From outside… to inside!
Speaking of saving time, that brings us to our next point.
3. When shooting overseas, choose a hotel location that’s near some of your photoshoot venues.
Andrew: The hotel becomes an automatic choice for a place to change or to dump stuff you might not need for the next part of your shoot.
This tip is particularly helpful if you’re crazy enough to plan an outdoor photoshoot with your baby who is less than 1 year old! For our Shanghai photoshoot, we had to factor in time for a feed, since most of Dearie’s photo-shoot outfits weren’t breast-feeding friendly. The hotel was thus a useful place to warm the expressed milk and get ourselves ready before the next locality.
4. For photo-shoots in another country, choose a locality that’s characteristic of that city/country in a subtle way, i.e. do not choose obvious tourist attractions like Statue of Liberty unless it’s a glamorous wedding shoot!
A photoshoot’s always nicer when it’s natural and real, rather than obviously showing that you’re on a holiday. For a New York feel, our photographer clearly timed his shots such that you’d see the famous New York yellow cabs in the background…
Or a Metro sign…
(We also like this shot because of the smiling passer-by)
5. If you’re in a country with different seasons, take the chance to show off seasonal elements that you can’t see in Singapore, i.e. winter wear, winter foliage etc.
Jasmine: We celebrated Christmas in New York, which was one of my dreams checked off my bucket list, so we marked that with photos with a distinct sense of time…
A humongous lit-up fir tree at the Public Library
Outdoor decorations at a Christmas market
5. Choose a photographer whose style you like- then tell him that he has total creative control.
In general, when working with designers, Etsy tailors, makeup artists and yes, photographers, I’ve found that most artsy people dislike being hampered and told what to do by the client; on the contrary, if you express your (genuine) admiration for their work and let them do what they are good at, the finished product can be pretty amazing!
Some of our favourite shots in Shanghai were borne out of our photographer’s freedom to be as creative as he wanted:
Jasmine: Have fun! Instead of seeing the photoshoot as a giant logistical hassle, we (Andrew: …we??) think of it as a fun date in another country, with somebody documenting our happy moments for posterity 🙂
Andrew: We’ve only had two overseas photoshoots, dear. Please don’t make it sound like it’s a norm.
Jasmine: Hey I just realised I’m wearing the same Warehouse winter coat in both shoots! Think I need to vary it up a bit more… Where to next? 😀