It seems the weather gods were on our side when shooting the 13 Faces of Summer editorial series. The sun was shining and clouds were nowhere to be seen, making it all the more easier to put together a successful photo shoot in the peaceful surroundings of Battersea park. With thirteen boys plus the BBG team, there were countless people doing several different jobs at once and although it did get slightly hectic at times, all in all we had a fantastic day and got ourselves a fab editorial with an impressive collection of models of the moment.
We thought we'd do a feature focusing on what it's like to work with a large group of models, as this is not the first time we have done this. Our similar feature last summer was another example, and some of you might remember issue 1 of Boys by Girls where we photographed 40 models in a day? We do like a challenge!
As we reminise over our fond memories from the day being convinced that Anders and Joey may as well be brothers from another mother, Isaac disappearing off into the distance, Joey stealing the fan away from everyone else, and Anders pondering upon the oddness of sitting down in a lift, we leave you with some crucial essentials that may be of help to other photographers out might want a helpful tips or two.
The 10 Essentials to Shooting With a Large Group of Models:
1. Planning a Shoot With Multiple Models. First, you will need to find a place that is big enough to fit all the models and make sure it has pretty lighting. Have an idea of what you want to shoot and plan the day carefully, so that when the day starts to get a little chaotic you will feel calm knowing that it will all be structured chaos. A moodboard is always helpful so you know what you are capturing, and this visual will also help the models so they know what you are aiming for with the images. With everyone on the same page, the group will be able to all work together and rock out your concept.
2. Establish a Chill-out Zone. Photographing so many models can take all day, so find a place where they can run free or sit and chill as they please. You won't be shooting all of the models at the same time all day, so when they aren't shooting they will be looking for somewhere to chill, chat amongst themselves about fabulous model business or read a book. You can call this "home-base", where everyone can touch base and get whatever they should need.
3. Keep energized. To keep the energy high, pack a yummy lunch for the models to snack on. Remember to include water, as we forgot this on the day and an unlucky intern had to run fast to the nearest shop to fetch up refreshments. Especially during a hot summer day, you don't want to forget the essentials. Starving or dehydrated models will not be as awesome as they can be if fed and watered.
4. Have Fun. If you feel the pressure, remember to not take it all too seriously. It's supposed to be fun! You don't want to get caught up in the chaos, because after all, you are taking photos of a bunch of beautiful people, how could you not be having fun? If you have casted the right boys, they will bring lots of personality, great stories about chocolate factories and sharks.
Hint: If you ask nicely they will always strike a wicked behind the scenes pose.
5. Mix it Up. Keep the day interesting with a change of scenery. You want to have different looks in your images, and a different location is a great easy way to add an interesting edge to all of your photos. The models will also appreciate the fresh new place to explore. Give a male model a cool location to play with and they are normally up for the challenge and will be creative with it. "Do you want me to climb up here? Yes, I really do". We chose an inside location for our second location, to escape the warm summer heat for a little while.
6. Let the Boys Socialize. With so many boys around you wouldn't want one to feel left out, so encourage conversation. Allowing the models time to catch up on their model gossip, will result in relaxed models. Model talk is quite amusing; you will hear a lot of discussion as to how tall they are, what size are their feet and what shows they walked this season instead of how their day is going or what the weather is like. We also heard lots of "Ey up lad this, and ey up lad that". The more relaxed the models, the more relaxed the images. We call this a win, win.
7. Take a Break. With all the business through the day, it is good to take a break from it all. Being beautiful for so many hours is a lot of work, so give the models time to relax. And catch a second or two for yourselves. You deserve it!
8. Don't Loose any Models. Keep an eye on all your models, as they could run off while you are not looking. You don't need to go as far as having roll call, but secretly count them all every few hours so you know they havn't gone walkabout.
9. Timing is Everything. We like this tip, because keeping very organized is the key to success when shooting a group of models. Starting with hair, then makeup, styling, portrait shoots, interviews, all the parallel actives were happening fast during our day, and most likely at the same time. You want to avoid any dead time, so you can get everything done that you need to. We organized the day by creating a great check-list that had all of the stations each model needed to finish before the day ended. You can see Annie showing us how it was done on our Instagram.
Also make someone in charge of simply "making sure models are happy". Annie chose to take control in an air-stewardess manner, bouncing into the room full of boys announcing, “Hello my name is Annie and I will be looking after you today”. Sorted.
10. Treat them Good. Use words like please and thank you, everyone likes that. If something doesn't go as planned, do the best you can with the situation.
Words by Wyatt McCollum and Justine Hyde-Mobbs
Photographs by Sophie Victoria Ann
Image retouching by Annie Ounstead and Sophie Victoria Ann