Pho­to: pixabay.com

A pho­to project is a for­mat that is ben­e­fi­cial for a pho­tog­ra­ph­er, when you can shoot for a group of clients in one day, with­out think­ing indi­vid­u­al­ly for each image and loca­tion. The client, on the oth­er hand, receives beau­ti­ful the­mat­ic pho­tographs, and at the same time, he does not need to both­er with any­thing at all — just come. Sounds great…but where do you start? What steps do you need to go through to orga­nize a pho­to project? We talked to pho­tog­ra­phers and found out what to con­sid­er when choos­ing a theme, how to find the per­fect loca­tion and what to do if you were left with­out a suit the day before the shoot­ing.

Step one: come up with a theme

Anna Greb­ne­va (@paparazzi_kids_), pho­tog­ra­ph­er and orga­niz­er of chil­dren’s pho­to projects:
“I try not to copy from any­one: it’s not fair to oth­er authors. But in order for my fan­ta­sy to work, I watch a lot of films, scroll through Pin­ter­est, study illus­tra­tions for chil­dren’s books and retro post­cards. I love beau­ti­ful­ly designed art pub­li­ca­tions, some­times I can just look at them.

From the pho­to project “Autumn”. Pho­to: Anna Greb­ne­va / instagram.com/paparazzi_kids_

In order for a pho­to project to be bought, you need to look at the audi­ence. I try to cre­ate one that engages chil­dren. For exam­ple, I add a rab­bit to the project: when the child begins to inter­act with the ani­mal, it is not dif­fi­cult to work. Chil­dren give out sin­cere emo­tions from con­tact with this bun­ny. These pho­tos come alive.”

Yana Polyako­va (@fotowish), pho­tog­ra­ph­er and orga­niz­er of pho­to projects:
“You can get an idea for a project from any­thing! The image of the hero­ine from the film, sports (bal­let, ten­nis), art, wildlife… Nature is very inspir­ing, for exam­ple, the loca­tion you like is a quar­ry or a water­fall.”

Step two: work out the image

Yana Polyako­va: “The fur­ther work of the team is built around the idea: either I order the tai­lor­ing of the image, or I rent a dress and props (we coop­er­ate with many cos­tume design­ers in the city). Also, our make-up and hair­styl­ists work out the future appear­ance of the par­tic­i­pants in advance, and the pho­tog­ra­phers think over the pos­es. I think over all the images from scratch myself as an orga­niz­er. And I bring cos­tumes and props to the shoot­ing.

From the pho­to project “Retro­car”. Pho­to: Ali­na Mitere­va / vk.com/fotowish

We always try to cov­er the entire range of sizes. As a rule, from 38–40th to 50–52nd. But it hap­pened that a plus-size girl signed up for a project with us, and we sewed or rent­ed a dress indi­vid­u­al­ly for her.

Anna Greb­ne­va: “It hap­pens that images arise sole­ly from a col­or com­bi­na­tion. I see, for exam­ple, beau­ti­ful shades of yel­low and brown in a bou­quet of flow­ers, and I want to do a pho­to project so that the girl has a mus­tard dress and she holds a brown bas­ket with a dog.

My image is formed instant­ly. I imme­di­ate­ly present the pic­ture I want to get. And so I begin to slow­ly col­lect the project. Some­times I sketch to under­stand the pos­es and com­po­si­tion.

From the Gold­en Apple pho­to project. Pho­to: Anna Greb­ne­va / instagram.com/paparazzi_kids_

When choos­ing a theme and image, you need to take into account the age of the mod­els. It is prac­ti­cal­ly impos­si­ble to make one project for chil­dren from one to 18 years old. It would be strange to invite a 16-year-old girl to a baby project with ducks and a fluffy skirt. Per­haps this is the case, but it is unlike­ly that you will find a large audi­ence. As a rule, the age range of the project is short: from one to three, from twelve to six­teen.

Most of the time I make my own cos­tumes. Their cre­ation is a labo­ri­ous and expen­sive process. If you make sev­er­al images for each height and size, the project will be much more expen­sive. Clients will not want to pay twen­ty thou­sand instead of eight. There­fore, I try to select one set of clothes and adjust it for dif­fer­ent heights with corsets, draw­strings, clothes­pins.

Step three: find a location

Anna Greb­ne­va: “Some­times I find a loca­tion and real­ize that a project can be made here. For exam­ple, a flower field, an unusu­al tree, a wood­en bridge in the park. But more often I first come up with an idea, and then I look for a place.

This is a fun process — often a loca­tion appears out of nowhere. So it was with the Alice in Won­der­land project. I went through sev­er­al parks, and still could not find a place. And then I saw an ordi­nary tree. Sud­den­ly I want­ed to bypass it, and I real­ized — this is what I need! On the oth­er hand, it was incred­i­bly tex­tured, like in a fairy tale, with a large hol­low at the bot­tom, and a hor­i­zon­tal branch grew from it, on which we hung a flower swing,

— Anna Greb­ne­va

When shoot­ing street pho­tog­ra­phy projects, it is imper­a­tive to take into account the light­ing con­di­tions. I try to shoot either before 10 am or from 6–7 pm so that the light is soft. Dur­ing the day, it is unlike­ly that you will be able to shoot some­thing beau­ti­ful. Just hide in the shad­ows, but there is a risk of get­ting beau­ti­ful “green” mod­els, which then will have to be edit­ed in the edi­tor for a long time.

Pho­to: Anna Greb­ne­va / instagram.com/paparazzi_kids_

In the stu­dio, I take into account its tech­ni­cal equip­ment, I look at how things are with the win­dows. I will def­i­nite­ly find out if there are enough dress­ing rooms, whether the stu­dio gives addi­tion­al hours at a dis­count or free of charge for the instal­la­tion and dis­man­tling of scenery. After all, if the project is large-scale, then florists and dec­o­ra­tors arrive in advance and pre­pare the loca­tion.”

Yana Polyako­va: “Based on the idea, we select the loca­tion. In our city there are a lot of pho­to stu­dios with a wide vari­ety of halls for any request.

From the Lev­i­ta­tion pho­to project. Pho­to: Ali­na Mitere­va / vk.com/fotowish

We also car­ried out projects in muse­ums (thus we dis­cov­ered for our­selves and our par­tic­i­pants the “Sweet Muse­um” and the Muse­um of Sovi­et slot machines. Some­times the mod­els them­selves sug­gest places for shoot­ing, and we lis­ten.

In good weath­er, we go to quar­ries, for­est parks, sta­bles … Unfor­tu­nate­ly, it hap­pened that when we arrived at the loca­tion, we found a lot of peo­ple there. So it was with the Tosnen­sky water­fall. In these cas­es, we try not to inter­fere with any­one’s rest — when pro­cess­ing, we “remove” peo­ple from the frame in graph­ic edi­tors.

Step four: assemble a team

Yana Polyako­va: “I assem­bled the team by tri­al and error. It all start­ed with the fact that my make-up artist and styl­ist and I decid­ed to orga­nize the first test shoots. Now I am an orga­niz­er, and then I was a pho­tog­ra­ph­er. And I shot for free, and then I found out that the make­up artist took mon­ey from the mod­els.

From the Dis­ney Princess pho­to project. Pho­to: Yana Polyako­va / vk.com/fotowish

And, for exam­ple, with two oth­er make-up artists-styl­ists, we could not work togeth­er because of their grow­ing requests. They only want­ed to receive with­out invest­ing in the devel­op­ment of the team.

After such cas­es, I attract­ed to the team only those peo­ple who were advised by friends and acquain­tances. In addi­tion, my hus­band helps me a lot: he meets the par­tic­i­pants, deliv­ers them if nec­es­sary, and is always present on the set.”

Anna Greb­ne­va: “I myself wrote to peo­ple of cre­ative pro­fes­sions. For exam­ple, I asked florists if they would like to par­tic­i­pate in the project on TFP terms. And as a rule, those who respond­ed and worked for free at first, then coop­er­at­ed with me for a long time already on com­mer­cial terms. They are just my team.

I use Insta­gram to search for spe­cial­ists. It’s nice to be able to see the work right away. I have nev­er used “Vkon­tak­te” or sites to search for spe­cial­ists.

But the most impor­tant part of my team is my hus­band. He helps me in mak­ing props, sup­ports me moral­ly, search­es for and rents ani­mals, loca­tions.”

Step five: attract customers

Anna Greb­ne­va: “I recruit par­tic­i­pants for pho­to projects, for exam­ple, through a page and a group on Vkon­tak­te. I also have Insta­gram. There I write posts, offer ref­er­ences, if I haven’t filmed the announce­ment of the project yet, I tell what will be includ­ed in it.

Word of mouth works best. Clients advise me to friends, acquain­tances, col­leagues, tell me how great it was, what good pho­tos they got.

From the pho­to project “Ondine”. Pho­to: Anna Greb­ne­va / instagram.com/paparazzi_kids_

Some­times I “turn on” adver­tis­ing to find new mem­bers, but I have a large pool of reg­u­lar cus­tomers who are hap­py to go to all projects. Usu­al­ly I write an announce­ment in a week and recruit sev­er­al peo­ple for shoot­ing. I also have an adver­tis­ing man­ag­er who helps pro­mote pages and man­age social net­works. I have a very large work­load and I can’t cov­er every­thing by myself.”

Yana Polyako­va: “I got my first clients through friends. Just offered to par­tic­i­pate in the film­ing for free. A lot of par­tic­i­pants have stayed with us since the very begin­ning of our work. Accord­ing to their rec­om­men­da­tions, their friends and rel­a­tives come to us.”

Bonus: Successful Cases

Yana Polyako­va: “My most ner­vous pho­to project is Harpy. I saw at the box office a very beau­ti­ful dress with black feath­ers on the bodice. The own­er of the dress­ing room was from anoth­er city, but she came to St. Peters­burg with her images.

From the Harpy pho­to project. Pho­to: Gali­na Otyan / vk.com/fotowish

I agreed to rent a suit, but it was not deliv­ered. The own­er of the image was in touch, but at some point she sim­ply dis­ap­peared, turn­ing off the phone. Now I think that per­haps the dress did not exist at all. Then for the first time I came across the fact that peo­ple can act so dis­hon­est­ly, “throw”.

As a result, in order not to let peo­ple down, we sewed a sim­i­lar dress overnight and suc­cess­ful­ly car­ried out a pho­to project. But the shock was good!”

Anna Greb­ne­va: “My favorite and most suc­cess­ful project is Bal­let. It is suit­able for girls of all ages, from one year old to adults. This is a pop­u­lar project in which many peo­ple have par­tic­i­pat­ed. I usu­al­ly do it in the win­ter because it’s always in the stu­dio.

From the pho­to project “Bal­let”. Pho­to: Anna Greb­ne­va / instagram.com/paparazzi_kids_

The hard­est thing in this project is to help the girls, who are not relat­ed to dance, make beau­ti­ful pos­es, put their arms and legs in a “bal­let style” so that it looks aes­thet­i­cal­ly pleas­ing in the frame.

This top­ic is close to me: as a child, I want­ed to be a bal­le­ri­na and could con­stant­ly watch bal­let. Thanks to my project, I became involved in this art. Albeit indi­rect­ly, from the side of the pho­tog­ra­ph­er.