Behind The Scenes: Group Shoot

16 August 2012

Have you ever wondered what it's like to work with a big group of models on a photoshoot? After revealing our twelve favourite new faces of this summer in a Boys by Girls exclusive editorial by Cecilie Harris, we thought we'd share a behind the scenes view of what went on during the day to give you an impression of what it's like to capture larger groups of models.

Organisational nightmare and chaos on the day you say? Well, Cecilie talks you through some of the planning process she went through, and how she works with shoots like this in general, in a question and answer session below.

Let's first set the scene..... it's a sunny Sunday afternoon (yes it happens!). Twelve beautifully styled (by Kristine Kilty) and groomed (by Stephen Hamilton and Fiona Tanner) boys walk through the park together as if they are on a school trip, getting rather a few heads to turn. We all love it. We hear regular talk of tattoos and food from the boys, and creative games to keep themselves entertained throughout the day.

Whilst waiting for the individual portraits to be taken, the rest of the boys seemed quite happy to entertain themselves: "Shall we play a game? Musicians beginning with A. Go round in a circle.
"Alana Del Rey."
"...wait, what?"

We turn to Cecilie to get some clever stuff out of her. Surprised chaos hasn't struck yet, and there are no dramas in sight, we want to know more about how she organised this horde of stunning dudes.
How do you go about casting and organising a large group shoot?
I plan and organise a large group shoot pretty much the same way I organise a "small" shoot. I come up with my concept, bring in the stylist, hair and make-up people and assistants, plan the location and start booking models that will suit the brief. It just takes a little longer as there is more follow up to do, and the planning needs to be more detailed to make the shoot run smoothy, and make sure everyone knows what they are doing. For large shoots it's even more helpful to have assistants. I try to have a plan of how to do the workflow, so there is as little "dead-time" for everyone involved as possible. And I make sure people are kept warm, fed and watered so they can perform well. A happy team and happy models = better results.
PS. Pray to all the Gods, you get to avoid the "Friday late afternoon agency phone hell". It's always stressful enough if you are unlucky to have one last minute model change late Friday afternoon. If you have a large group, could be a potential nightmare. Grey hairs may occur.
How do you direct the models to work together?
For large group shoots like this with twelve models, it's all about knowing what you want the final image to look like. Knowing the shape you want of the overall group, and making the boys play around within that. One thing that is always a priority for me is to make sure my models are comfortable at my shoots. Then anything needed for the images will mostly come naturally. If I have it available I try to give them a visual of what I want, so they can see more easily what I have in my mind and give me that and add their own spin on it where appropriate.
What do you think is important when composing a photo with a number of models?
For this editorial, because there were so many of them, it was a lot about shape and lines, mixed in with shots that were captured in-between to mix in a more natural feel with the more straight posing ones. This way I get to show both strength and more relaxed all in one go, and mix it all together. I also wanted to keep in mind to show all the clothes, so I wanted to capture a mix of full figure and more zoomed in. We were going for a very preppy look, using a two-tone colour scale of blue and white only. With so much happening in an image, composing with colour is always something I keep in mind as well.

Makes sense. And the athmosphere on the day was surprisingly calm, productive and cheerful. It could have been the sun that decided to come out after weeks of rain that put everyone in a great mood, or it could be the fact that everyone was simply enjoying the day. As one of the boys said "I loved the shoot today, it was just like hanging out with my mates".
When you are casting for so many boys to work together, there will always be somebody that knows each other, and with a relaxed and happy team of creatives and models you should be all set with an enjoyable day and great results.
If you're working with a group of teenage boys, you can expect lots of talk of food:
"I could murder a bacon sandwich right now", "I want a McDonalds. Or a kebab", "What day is it? Sunday? Yes, roast dinner."

Above: Always keep your models fed and watered. For everyone to be at their best, you want them to have good levels of energy and happiness.

You can see the full '12 Faces of Summer 2012' editorial by clicking here. We also have a series of exclusive portraits of each individual boy along with interviews from the day coming up. Check back soon for more!

Photos: Kaamilah Nahaboo

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