Friday, June 29, 2012

Learning On The Job – A Test Shoot

by Katelyn Groth

I was contacted through Model Mayhem by a photographer named Wira Maxwell from the LA area looking to do a test shoot in San Juan Capistrano. Since the location was far more convenient than LA, I was really excited to get to work with a new crew. Thus far, I have worked with photographers I know personally, which meant I had a good idea of how to interact with them. This was an entirely new experience for me - not only to work with strangers but to work with multiple professional models.

The mood-board that was provided by the photographer was not very specific and the only description I took from it was a "casual, classic, americana-vibe." The location was a beautiful campsite with horse corrals, dry river beds, and even a windmill. With that in mind, I pulled clothes from my personal collection and asked the models to bring some staples of their own. I didn't receive the official model line-up until the day before, so I planned to do a lot of pinning and praying that things would fit.

When I arrived at the hotel, I had a chance to get to know the models because the photographer had stopped to get us all food. Since we got a later start than we had planned, I felt pressure to get through the fitting process quickly. I had understood that the models would be shot in groups, so I coordinated two looks for each of them.

Keeping in mind that this was a lifestyle shoot and not an editorial or fashion shoot, I felt a bit less pressure to have them in exciting clothes. But I also wanted to show a bit of my own aesthetic (which wasn’t hard since they were wearing all of my own clothes) and have the looks be appropriate for the location.
We hit the ground running at Casper’s Park – literally. Since we ended up being way behind our projected finish time, the photographer was shooting at a very fast pace

There were 4 models and I was constantly fixing and pinning one while he was shooting the others. The place he was shooting was often quite a distance from my car – which meant I was helping the models change into their next looks and I missed some adjustments that should have been made while the pictures were being taken.

One of the models was wearing a pair of jeans that belonged to another model that needed to leave early. She quickly changed out of the jeans and into the only pair of pants we could find at the moment – which were the men’s pants. The photographer saw her and thought I had put together an additional look, so he took multiple shots of her while I prepped some props.

We had planned to shoot bathing suits on the beach but ran out of time so we dressed the remaining models in some interesting wraps provided by the makeup artist to keep them warm and used up the last bit of sunlight.

While much of the shoot didn't go the way I had thought it would, the crew was so fun to work with and I'm happy with the result. Not only did I get some great photos for my portfolio, but I learned that I need to take a stand and be more aggressive when it comes to "stepping in" to a shot to make it perfect. Only the stylist notices that smallest details that make the photos perfect.

Katelyn Groth is a stylist friend of mine specializing in architectural and lifestyle. Her work can be seen at

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