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Orchestrating a Photo and Video Shoot

As a developmental editor at Human Kinetics, I spend a lot of time sitting at the computer reviewing manuscripts, compiling art manuscripts, answering e-mails, and so on. Every once in a while, though, my typical day gets turned upside down when I work on a product suite that requires a photo shoot. Such was the case with the fourth edition of Facilitated Stretching by Robert McAtee and Jeff Charland. This book, which also features streaming online high-definition video, required a week-long video and photo shoot in order to capture more than 100 video clips and nearly 300 photos.


So, what does a typical photo shoot look like? Well, there’s a lot less sitting and hardly a computer in sight! Instead, I’m up and on my feet, ensuring the photos we’re taking meet the requirements. Does the setup of the shot match the description of that exercise as written in the book? Do we have the correct equipment? Are the models positioned correctly? Are their clothes tucked so that we don’t have unsightly bulges? I’m also looking at each photo as it’s shot to ensure there aren’t shadows or other distractions in the photo. If the author is present (as was the case with the Facilitated Stretching shoot), I’m consulting with the author to ensure technique is correct and that he’s happy with the final shot. There is a lot more movement in my day when I’m at a photo shoot. (Comfortable shoes are definitely a requirement!) I’m checking my photo binder to make sure each shot is correct. I’m adjusting the model’s body positions and clothing. I’m helping to carry in equipment. I’m working with the photographer to make sure we have the best angle for each shot.


Photo shoots are a lot of work, and they require everyone present—editor, author, models, photographer—to be at the top of their game. Here are my tips for a successful shoot:


  • Be prepared. Know what you need to shoot and what you’re looking for in each photo. Have resources available during the shoot to ensure you’re shooting the correct technique. Simple shoot lists or full-blown shoot binders help everyone present know what needs to be shot.
  • Be flexible. Despite all your preparation, things will come up during the shoot that you have to deal with. Roll with it. Be flexible, and know your content well enough that you can improvise and still get the necessary shot.
  • Have fun. Shoots are a lot of work, and it is important to be prepared and stay on task. However, don’t take things too seriously. Find ways to connect with the models and have fun! Laugh. Tell jokes. Goof off . . . just for a little bit. A relaxed set makes for a more successful shoot.


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