I’m a fashion and portrait photographer. I love working with sustainable fashion brands, using exceptional photography to create and elevate an emotional connection with style and purpose. A typical client for me is a fashion or lifestyle brand like Natural Spa Factory, which produces gender- neutral skincare, and Seven Boot Lane, an independent footwear brand. I also shoot portraits, in which it’s important to capture the essence of the person in the brief window of time I have. I recently worked with an amazing creative director who commissioned me for a series of portraits of her, for her various projects. It was a fun and liberating shoot.
Before a shoot the client and I discuss ideas and what they would like to achieve. Once the look, feel and theme of the shoot is agreed, a mood board is made up by either me, the client or the art director. From this we can direct and commission the fashion stylist and make-up artist, and other crewmembers needed such as a nail technician, a hairstylist, and possibly a location/production manager who would source a location and fix the shooting permits. As soon as I get the go-ahead from the client, I start booking the make-up artist, hair stylist, fashion stylist and any assistants.
The planning can be any time between two months to two weeks before the shoot. It can vary due to the time scales of seasonal changes and the client’s schedule. From my experience, the longer I have to plan a shoot, the smoother the day runs, as there is more time to consider the running order of shots and counteract any foreseeable errors.
On one of my recent shoots I had a videographer filming the shoot, the models, and capturing behind the scenes while also shooting the products, so it was an involved day.
Typical time frame before and during the shoot
Two weeks before: I send out the mood board if I haven’t done so already and double-check that the team have all the information needed.
The week before: I check with the client to see if there are any changes. I send out a ‘call sheet’, which has all the shoot and team details. It has everyone’s name and phone number, the location address, start time, finish time and emergency phone numbers in case of breakdowns or delays – because life doesn’t always run to plan!
The day before: I have another quick check-in with everyone to make sure everything is on schedule.
On the day: One shoot was a particularly early start! I had to pick up the fashion stylist and then drive to London for an 8am arrival. We had an hour to prep and get ready for arrival of the models and client. Once everyone is on set, the running order of shots is discussed, the mood board is pinned up and I hold a quick meeting with the team so everyone knows what to expect.
Amanda Thomas is an established fashion and portrait photographer working out of London and Bristol. Her specialisms are fashion, portraits and lifestyle, and for 19 years she has worked directly with agency and publishing creative directors to produce elegant and striking images. Her clients include Neal’s Yard and Natural Spa Factory. Visit www.amandathomasphotographer.co.uk.
Top tips shooting
- Always shoot tethered to a laptop. This makes working easier, as you can view the images on a bigger screen as you go, and you will know instantly if you need to make changes. Stopping to crowd around the screen on the back of the camera slows you down and breaks contact with your model.
- Shoot various crops of the model. This gives you more flexibility and allows you to pin a variety of images together to create a story. If everything is shot really tight to the face, or wide, then it limits your choices in the final edit and can make it difficult to pull together.
- Direct your model. Professional models know how to work a camera, but they still need guidance and directing. Maintain eye contact, conversation and give encouragement to coax the best from them. Give them direction so they don’t look posed or static.
- Don’t over-shoot. Shooting too many of the same images can make for an exhausting shoot and edit. If you have 500 frames of the same model in the same pose and the same out t it gets boring, the model will fade and it will show.
- Experiment with new kit. It can be easy to use your regular kit and do the same lighting set up over and over again, but by trying new kit or lighting rig will open up new ideas and possibilities to shooting. It will help keep your work looking fresh.