Before and After Shoot Routines

Here is a conversation between Leon Sandoval and two photographers about their before and after shoot routines. Photographers are creative and it’s fun to hear what comforts them and helps them feel prepared and comfortable. Some come from a systematic logistical place while others come from a spiritual mindful place. With me today is the fashion and commercial photographer, Nikki Smith and the wedding photographer Lanie Lucas.

Can I share with you both my before and after shoot routines? [00:02:03]

  • Nothing much at all.
  • I’ve got two scenarios. Either I’m going to shoot athletes at a gym where I create content for their social media. There are always world class athletes coming through and teaching seminars and in that case what I do is make sure I have a card in the camera and grab my bag.
  • The second scenario would be once a month, where I do a commercial shoot to create video content for an athlete or a brand. In this case, I’m more deliberate about checking my gear or making sure that my lenses are clean or cards are cleared off.
  • I rely on a system of keeping all my gear exactly in the same place. The gear never leaves my bag unless I’m shooting with it. My pre-game and post-game is pretty minimal. It’s not exciting.
  • Maybe afterward I can grab a cold coconut water.
  • Pregame, occasionally I have an energy drink.

Lanie, let’s tell us who you are, where you live, what you do for fun, family situation and whatever else you would like to share. [00:04:07]

  • I am a wedding and family photographer based in DFW here with my husband and two girls, one-year-old and five-year-old. I also have a dog. I’m probably the most paranoid photographer because I tend to work with families with small children that move quickly.
  • I do a little bit of fashion which is a little relaxing sometimes for me because it’s possible to interact, slow down and take a shot with everybody in a lot of ways.
  • I tend to focus on making sure that I have everything I need when I need it.

How long have you been in photography? [00:05:20]

  • I started my business in 2013.
  • I have been an obsessive student of photography for nearly 20 years. I started to major in photography in college and got cold feet because I felt I didn’t have the courage to do something like that.
  • I came back to it after my husband had a couple of layoffs and I felt “Oh, I could do this.”

Talk to us about your before and after shoot routines before the shoot? [00:06:06]

  • I start several days before.
  • With weddings, about a week up, I start my routine prep and that is communicating with the bride and her planners and we’ll go through our game plan and we would get a list and generate a timeline and would go over the list and find what’s realistic so that we can fit in the artistic fine art shoots that we’ve planned out and made sure we have time for them.
  • As the week progresses, I never reshoot SD cards. I always buy new SD cards and label them for the shoot and the time and get those ready.
  • A few days out, I start charging things, making sure I have at least three sets of batteries for everything. I have a case of batteries I would bring with me just in case of anything.

Do you actually bring a charger with you to the shoot? Do you ever find yourself recharging batteries or you really just don’t want to be distracted with that? [00:07:30]

  • I do also bring a charger. I’ve only had to do that once.

You said you don’t reuse SD cards. Talk to me about the size of cards that you buy. [00:08:04]

  • Since I know that I can’t get back the time that I’ve shot, for me it’s important in the case of a failure to save as much as humanly possible.
  • I buy 16 GB cards and I use SanDisk Extreme Pro 95mb/sec. the whole point of doing that is so that as I’m going through a wedding, I will use probably four of those max, throughout a wedding day.
  • If one goes down or a set of cards get destroyed and I can’t get something back, I still have most of the images and hopefully I’m only having to recover one portion of the wedding and so far in the cases where I’ve had SD cards fail, I’ve been to recover at least of 75% of the images. So, theoretically, that cuts down the risk of failure.

What happens after the shoot, after you go home or if there is anything you do on your way home or once you get home to reward yourself and unwind? [00:10:51]

  • I always relief myself by drinking a jug of water in my car and I just guzzle water all the way home.
  • As soon as I get home I hit the heating pad and the Tiger Balm. It’s boring but that’s the same thing that I do every single time.

Nikki, I want to hear about the type of shoots that you go on and what are your before and after shoot routines? [00:11:38]

  • I help modeling agencies develop books for their models whether it’s kids and men or women and then I also do catalogs, commercial shots.
  • I have a quite a variety of things that I do and it’s based on fashion but few for product brands.
  • The length of my shoots can vary from 1 or 2 hours or 10 to 12 hours a day.
  • What I do before I shoot, if it’s in the studio or outdoors, I would grab objects from my house and would bring them into the studio and test any possible lighting scenario that I might have my client request for the next day.
  • Sometimes, I spend an hour if I get it nailed down and other times I spend 4 to 6 hours testing and making sure that’s everything is fine.
  • With every client, I make sure there’s consultation and there are tons of emails going back and forth because they would send me their story boards or the kind of the things that they are looking for.

When you’re walking with various lighting situations, do you take any notes on that or do you just have a good memory that you remember? [00:15:30]

  • It’s a mix. I always have my phone with me.
  • If I finish a setup and I’m really happy with it, I take a picture of it. Since I practice every time before I shoot, I’m getting muscle memory. My brain is having to think and I’m getting to dig down and create a database of lighting techniques that I can use.
  • Giving myself a difficult situation to work with helps me to remember my lighting and how to position things as well, how to make the shots look attractive at different angles with your camera.

Let’s say you have an 8-hour shoot, it’s going well but you get to the end and you’re exhausted. What’s your after shoot routine? [00:16:43]

  • What I do is, I have my team and we pack everything out which could take an hour or less depending on how much gear brought and then we go out to eat.
  • What that does is that it gives us all a moment to sit down and evaluate what happened that day. This makes me a photographer and makes me deal with difficult situations better.
  • I also reach out to my team and having an open table communication on what could have been done better is really nice. We also talk about the positives like letting my team know where they did better.

Is there anything else that you guys do that we haven’t covered yet or alternatively, do you have any friend out there that you know of that we can keep name list that has any some really quirky before and after shoot routines? [00:19:37]

  • I don’t have any. I’m the weirdest ones of my friends.
  • I’ve seen people having really weird routines after shooting like people having the same meal afterward or beforehand and it’s something I would never think to do.
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