Since the beginning of lockdown, we have learnt that we can do “virtually” anything. I’m sure if someone had told us a few years ago that we would be working out with Joe Wicks every morning, attending National Opera and taking art classes all within the four walls of our homes, sitting in front of a computer, we would not have believed it. Oh, how the times have changed! Photographers have had to create new ways of getting up close and personal with their clients in order to continue snapping those special moments. May I introduce the virtual photoshoot!
So What is a Virtual Photoshoot?
Good question. It sounds a little like a selfie session in your bathroom. Actually, it is an ingenious way for photographers to continue doing what they excell at: capturing you. Although it is a relatively new concept, with the likes of Meghan and Harry choosing a remote shooting photo to announce their pregnancy, it is a trend that is likely to outlast the pandemic. In a nutshell, a virtual photoshoot is a photo session that takes place in the comfort of your own home, but instead of the photographer being just on the other side of a lens, they are on the other end of your phone.
Does it Really Work?
If you have spent any time on Zoom or group video chats recently, you’ll know all about the grainy pictures and unflattering frozen expressions that go along with video calls. However, a virtual photoshoot is very different. Firstly, your photographer will ask you to download a photography App, prior to your portrait session, which is specifically designed for remote shoots. The images are of a much higher resolution than your standard WhatsApp call. Then, most importantly, you are in the safe, professional hands of your photographer. They know what they are doing. You will be guided through the process of selecting the best backdrop, lighting and posing positions, just as if you were having an in-person photoshoot. Their art lies in seeing the best head angle and gaze, and the results are just as amazing as if you were in a photography studio.
Can a Virtual Photoshoot Compare to a Real One?
Naturally, there are some drawbacks to having a virtual rather than real life photoshoot, but there also some great advantages. Let’s face it, the main one at the moment is that they are actually possible right now, no matter where you are in the world and what the current situation is. We can’t wait for the pandemic to be completely over before we are allowed to have fun again! And a virtual photoshoot is fun. There’s something about the security of being in your own home and not having someone standing in front of you that allows you to relax and enjoy being the centre of attention.
The photo sessions are only about 30 minutes long so they are quick and easy to fit into your day. Of course, one of the other unique things is that you are surrounded by all of your worldly possessions. White background photography definitely has its place, but a photoshoot in your own home allows the photos to say so much more about you and your personality. Carefully chosen backgrounds and simple props, such as a cup of tea or a favourite book, can add real layers to the shot. Plus, it no longer matters if your favourite photographer lives on the other side of the world from you; they can be in your living room through the power of your phone!
The Feedback Says it All
The feedback from my client, Danielle.F: “I was a bit nervous about the idea of having a virtual photoshoot. The only other professional photos I’ve ever had done before were to mark special occasions, such as my wedding and the birth of my daughters. This was different. There wasn’t a real reason to have it, but that actually made it more important. It was great to make time for me. It was refreshing and empowering.
I am definitely suffering from pandemic fatigue, so at first the thought of appearing in something other than yoga pants, with a messy bun and a mask on my face was a little scary. But I really enjoyed taking the time to do my hair and makeup. It felt like a treat. The actual photoshoot was very quick and easy. There was a little bit of camera angle tweaking and sorting out of the curtains to get the light right, but London-based photographer, Petra, made everything feel very simple and was so encouraging.
It wasn’t long before the posing became more natural and, because you can see a small image of yourself on the phone as the pictures are being taken, you can get some idea of if you are doing it right or not. There’s nothing worse than getting photos taken then not liking any of them when you finally see them. That didn’t happen in this case. The turnaround was under 48 hours from photo session to the pictures arriving in my inbox. I understood beforehand that there was a limit to the resolution of online photos but when I saw them, it never even entered my mind. They were perfect.
I now have a lovely collection of photos that have a quirkiness to them and a story. I’ve already started sending them to friends and family. They can’t believe the photos were taken virtually from London, while I was sitting at home in Prague. It will be interesting to look back on them in years to come. They are definitely a snapshot of the times. I would highly recommend giving it a go.”
Virtual Photoshoot Tips and Ideas
Bear in mind when you are having a virtual photoshoot is that it is up to you to get everything organised. Make sure you take time to read all of the information that your photographer sends.
Here are a few helpful pointers:
1. Help yourself by getting a good night’s sleep the night before, no alcohol and hydrate with plenty of water.
2. Make the preparation time enjoyable. If you are harassed getting ready, it will show in your pictures. View the preparation and photoshoot as a whole package; do things to make yourself feel
special, like painting your nails.
3. Choose 2 or 3 outfits that you are comfortable in and reflect who you are. This portrait session is all about you. Solid colours photograph better than busy prints, but don’t feel that you have to look bland.
Bold necklaces and statement earrings can add real personality. Texture works wonderfully on camera too.
4. You don’t have to try and look like a professional model. If you always wear natural makeup, stay natural. You want the photos to reflect you, not an image you’ve seen in a magazine.
5. Choose an uncluttered backdrop to your photos and think about the lighting. Look for the best light in your home, ideally by a window. A garden or balcony can work beautifully too.
6. Technology-wise, you just need a smartphone with the App installed. You will need to be able to position your phone securely. A tripod is great but a tin of beans with an elastic band around it can work just as well. Make sure the camera lens is exposed and that you’ve given it a clean beforehand.
7. The clarity of the photos depends on the strength of the internet connection, so make sure you are in a room that has a good signal.
8. Get your phone fully charged. Not only will the phone have to last the length of the portrait session, but you will need to leave it on while the photos are being uploaded to the icloud. The last thing you want is to lose your photos because your battery died.
We are all at home more than we want right now, but it could be an opportunity to try something new. Empowering portraits have a wondrous way of giving you that little lift required to keep driving you forwards. Making time for yourself is an amazing act of self-love. Having a beautiful photo to show at the end of it is just the icing on the cake.
As Karl Lagerfeld said, “What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.” Now, we might want the pandemic to be gone forever, but wouldn’t it be special to have a photo that shows the uniqueness of this time? We are constantly evolving as women and it would be a shame to miss out on preserving a glimpse of you just as you are right now; as the incredible woman you are.