Virtual | FaceTime Photoshoots

Recently I've been working with a talented model on a mini series of self isolation photoshoots to keep my creativity alive in these uncertain times.

Like so many photography businesses, I have been directly affected by COVID-19. With all of my summer wedding bookings postponed until next year and portrait work put on hold, I have been left in the lurch with no place to turn to release my creativity.

Photography for me, personally, is not just a job but a major outlet for my mental health wellbeing. Usually when feelings of self-deprivation begins to take hold, I would often grab my camera and take photos outside regardless of the weather. Be this through architecture imagery of my beautiful city, organising a portrait shoot with a friend, or meeting up with like minded photographers at (any of the various) London instagram photo meetups.

In light of COVID-19, and forced to stay indoors and with feelings of being lost, one day an interesting post popped up on my Facebook timeline. An article from fstoppers highlighted how an Italian photographer had set up a virtual photoshoot with a model.

Seeing the interesting images captured, I decided to try it out with the last model I had worked with before the lockdown. I saw this as an opportunity to enhance my communication skills and strengthen my art direction knowledge through the organisation of making a shoot like this possible.

The Shoots

I made contact with Francesca Fleur, told her about the idea and we agreed on an impromptu shoot one sunny afternoon. Thinking on my feet, with no clear idea of how it would go, I had her go around her garden with a colander, of all things, to create interesting shadow patterns. We also utilised the flowers in her garden for some creative captures.

Excited with the results from our first virtual shoot, we then decided to properly organise a second shoot. This time round I researched innovative self portrait ideas and we decided on a colour scheme, outfits, makeup, hair style and the props we would use to enhance the imagery.

Additionally, I opted to make things more interesting by involving her family. So I got her mum and sister to hold the phone (human tripods) so that Francesca could be free to incorporate the various poses. But more than that, the shoot became a wholesome experience for the whole family.

After posting these images to social media I garnered high interest in the work I was doing with Francesca and was subsequently featured on instagram three times. UK Portraits kindly featured these twice and once on FaceTime Shoots.

Building upon our success, and through getting to know Francesca on a personal level, I learnt about her aspirations as a budding actress, something she has been pursuing since she was five. Taking this into consideration I decided we needed our third shoot to be more geared towards her future endeavours. So we both agreed to a Hollywood Glam inspired shoot.

By this time, virtual shoots were gaining traction online and hundreds of photographers around the world were finding interesting ways to capture shoots. One of my previous models posted an interested image on her feed and on her subsequent blog on how it was captured. Seeing how this popular TikTok trend (of a popular studio technique) was created via a photo hack was inspirational. Essentially the user, takes a bogroll (toilet roll) aka a snoot and shines a torch through it against a dark wall, creating an interesting effect. I knew at this point it would make for the perfect addition to our third shoot.

Not only did we have this photo hack but then I learnt her family had a classic MG car, so of course I had to add it in to complete the style of our shoot.

See the full portfolio to all the photographs we captured here.

Safety First:

One thing I want to touch base on regarding these type of shoots. Whilst it can be incredibly rewarding and wholesome, models must be aware that there are still individuals out there who will take advantage. As the old adage goes, vet, vet, and vet some more before agreeing to a virtual shoot. Talk to the previous models who have shot with the photographer to get an idea of what shoots with them are like. Moreover, the onus is on photographers to ensure it is always a safe environment for models and members of the public.

Methods & Process:

There are multiple ways to organise a virtual shoot, below I talk about my two favourite methods.

1) FaceTime: This method allows a photographer to remotely take the images from the conversation and saves the images to their camera roll. Fortunately, Apple had the foresight to give the users on both ends of the conversation, a notification that an image has been taken. But it does make me wonder if someone with bad intentions could possible hack this with malware.

2) Virtual Assistant: This method turns a models family / loved ones into mini photographers/ assistants. Whereby, they take the image after you have given direction and positioned the subject into the locations around their home. They then select the images to be sent on to the photographer to be edited. This is by far the safest method, but does take away the traditional definition of photography.

In closing, whichever method you decide is best, is up to you. And if you are a model or a member of public who would be interested in having a virtual shoot with me in your home, please do get in touch so we can organise the next great shoot!

Model's Instagram: Francesca Fleur - @francesca_fleur

Model's Website:

#virtualphotoshoot #facetimephotoshoot #mentalhealth #stayhomestaysafe #selfisolation #londonportraitphotography

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