What Models Need to Know About Remote Shoots

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Photo Source: Stephanie Diani

When you’re modeling, you’re usually just one member of a larger team at the shoot. You don’t have to worry about all the different aspects, like taking the photos and finding the right lighting. When it comes to remote work, however, models often have to take on those additional roles. A virtual shoot means making sure you can do everything right in your home. So, if you’ve never done a remote shoot before, how do you even start approaching this type of work?

The process for remote shoots will differ depending on the client and type of shoot. Dancer and model Lili Tewes has been working, training, and rehearsing virtually over the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Her remote shoots usually begin with meeting the photographer and creative team.

“We talk about the backdrop—what kind of vignette of my apartment could be used as a backdrop—and lighting, natural lighting and the time of day that would be best or if you can use a ring light or whatever is at your disposal,” Tewes says. 

Then, during shooting, Tewes typically sets up her iPad on a tripod with the photographer doing the work from there. She then has a second screen for the rest of the creative team to see what she’s set up and give notes as they get a sense of what she’s doing.

For Áine Rose Campbell, who has been modeling for more than a decade, the remote shoot she did for a fragrance company was quite different. The client reached out via Ubooker with a mood board and asked for two photos and a video. From the mood board, she was able to learn about the light, makeup, background, and type of clothing they wanted.

“I took different pictures and sent them to them. I was paid for two hours’ work. That type of content is quite easy, because everyone has a great phone and probably has access to a plain background,” Campbell explains. “If clients are looking for more professional pictures, sometimes they need to make sure [that] maybe the model lives with a photographer or has a camera that can take automatic photos. I think this was a more Instagram-feel type of job.”

The shoot didn’t end there, though. After sending the pictures, Campbell was asked for some more takes with a slightly different background—so she did it again. She didn’t like those new photos, so she shot them a third time. Campbell says she did more work this way, but overall, she thought the remote shoot was a cool experience.

“We all have a bit of makeup at home. We all have clothing for easy shoots. It’s a great way to earn money while we’re not working as much as normal,” she says.

For any models about to work their first remote shoot, Campbell stresses the importance of communication. From her experience, having communication onsite during the shoot would have been helpful, but no matter how the shoot is set up, if you have questions or are unsure about anything, you should reach out to the client and ask about it. She also recommends managing your time expectations if you’re new to the process.

Preparation is also key, according to Tewes. Because you’re taking on so many different roles during remote shoots, she stresses prepping beforehand so you don’t have to worry about logistics the day of the shoot. 

“Have your tripod and all the hair, makeup, and outfits figured out,” Tewes advises. “Make sure that everyone is on the same page. Create a detailed shoot list and then just go for it. Dive right in and see what happens. I have a cat. She made a cameo one day; things that wouldn’t [typically] happen will happen [when you’re at home]. Or your Internet will break down. It’s just crucial to be prepared. It was helpful to have that figured out so I could focus on the artistic work the day of the shoot.”

When it comes to having the right equipment, Tewes recommends using a tripod so you don’t have to worry about balancing whatever you’re using for the shoot. What else you need will depend on the job and its specific requirements for makeup, hair, and styling. A selfie stand with a remote control can also be helpful if you have to take your own photos, Campbell adds. It was a make-or-break piece of equipment for her that made shooting very smooth.

While remote shooting can be a lot of work, there are benefits during this time. Campbell describes the experience as empowering and says it’s great not to have to travel. With your wardrobe easily available, you know exactly what you can put together.

“There’s a real simplicity to it that I like, and there’s real accessibility,” she says.

Campbell views the remote shoot experience as key for models who are interested in creating content for social media platforms like Instagram.

“I think for people who are really interested in becoming influencers and content creators, and understand that’s important for their careers, being able to have these opportunities really teaches you what you need to do because you’re also working within brand guidelines to get a nice picture,” Campbell explains. “You learn how to finesse that shooting from home for products in particular. It’s different from taking a selfie. I think there’s value in what you learn [through remote shooting] to be able to apply it to the social media side of modeling.” 

Virtual work also allows for more international collaboration. Tewes worked with a photographer in New York and a creative director in Sweden for a shoot while she was based in Germany. Describing herself as “private and introverted,” Tewes says modeling in her home has been quite intimate, but the experience allowed her to reach deeper into herself and bring a greater vulnerability to her work. Still, Tewes is looking forward to being around other artists in person again.

“I think there’s something very magical about being in front of someone’s camera, allowing yourself to be seen, and having that dialogue with a photographer,” she says. “You can kind of recreate it, but it’s very two-dimensional when you’re working remotely.”

Whether remote shoots became a regular option as the industry begins to open up or only an occasional opportunity, it’s good to know what to expect and prepare for so you won’t have to stress beyond bringing yourself to the shoot as the model. Campbell’s final advice for those doing their first remote shoot is to make sure you have a good setting (at minimum a white wall), don’t have much in your shoot space, and have good natural lighting or good lights.

“Practice your poses with the product that you have and check out the brand reference or mood board that they send you,” Campbell says. “Or check out their websites and stuff like that so that you can be as close to what they want and don’t have to reshoot something.”

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Lisa Granshaw
Lisa Granshaw is an editor at Backstage.
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