Do’s & Don’ts of Group Shoots

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts of planning group shoots.  All of this comes from either my experience as an attendee or a planner myself.  I suppose I’ll state right off that bat that some of these might work for others, whereas some might not… it all depends largely on your audience, your event, and who’s planning the event.

DO

  • Be willing to pay for hair and makeup services to entice models to come to your event.  Pay for top-quality people and use them to help draw people in.
  • Create a schedule for your hair/makeup services and expect them to stick to it.  It will help things run more smoothly, as well as prevent models who’ve been waiting for hours and get cut in front of by someone who just got there from being pissed off.
  • Supply food and drinks to those attending.  Make sure you have a variety of drinks, including lots of water.  Straws are a plus, so models have to worry less about messing up lips.
  • Have 1-2 other people (depending on the size of your event) to help you run things the day of your event.  Make sure you communicate what’s expected of them, in advance.
  • Show up to your event early, and make sure everything that needs to be set up is done or near done when people start arriving.
  • Promote the hell out of your event.  Don’t just start a thread and expect people to know about it.  Email, tag, PM, post bulletins, etc.  Take the time to do the work when it comes to promoting.
  • Communicate with all attending so they understand location rules, timing, who’s to get photos to whom and when, etc.
  • Make sure you have ample space for models to store wardrobe and change, so that there’s less likelihood of something getting mixed up or going missing.  Remember that often, models bring large suitcases and/or multiple bags of wardrobe with them to events like this (especially when wardrobe isn’t provided).
  • Make sure bathrooms are on-site, are in working order, and are stocked with an extra supply of toilet paper, paper towels and hand soap.
  • Consider nametags for photographers and stylists.
  • Keep a list of who’s attending, with links to profiles if possible.  This will help people coordinate amongst themselves if they choose.
  • Decide early on if your event with be a TF* Group Shoot Event or a Workshop.  If the former, make sure all participants are aware of the TF* part and understand that they will need to coordinate getting photos to/from those they’ve worked with.  If the latter, consider hiring desirable models from your area (or reliable traveling models) to entice photographers to pay for your event… and make sure you have a gameplan when it comes to hosting your workshop.

DON’T

  • Combine a M&G event with a Group Shoot.  It’s hard to network if you’re shooting, and it’s hard to shoot if you’re networking.  Try to keep it one or the other if possible.
  • Over-use a location too fast by planning too many events too close together.  Doing so can kill your event quickly, as a lot of people don’t like to shoot in the same easily-recognizable location 50 others have shot in.
  • Allow your events to become cliquey.  It’s great to have a core group that always comes to an event, but a clique can be hugely intimidating for newbs and a major turnoff for others who might not come so regularly.
  • Brush off complaints or suggestions from people who have attended.  Thank them for their feedback and let them know you’ll look into the issue.
  • Plan on making money, or even breaking even, the first few times you plan something.
  • Be afraid to charge both photographers and models a minimal fee to attend, even if it’s just to help offset the costs of stylists.
  • Plan on being able to shoot a lot during the course of the event.  You need to be available for questions, to make sure folks are following the rules, and to make sure things are running smoothly.
  • Allow every single person coming to bring someone who’s not related to the industry.  There are going to be enough people there without boyfriends, parents, or other random people causing distractions.
  • Allow random people to come in and out of the location if they’re not involved with the shoot.  If you wish there to be some time for being social, end the event at a specific time and set aside specific time after for socializing, notifying your attendees accordingly.
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