We traveled to Tahiti with Tiny Atlas Quarterly, a travel and lifestyle magazine. Emily Nathan, the founder of TAQ, brought years of experience working in advertising with diverse clients to the trip. Here, she shares her advice for lifestyle and travel photographers shooting on location.
Be mindful of your destination
Setting cannot be stressed enough for lifestyle photography. First and foremost, Tiny Atlas has always chosen incredible locations for our shoots. The setting will create the world your talent is living in. We gravitate towards gorgeous and wild natural landscapes that our community has been dreaming of. They’re fun to travel to but don’t forgo a very necessary real world reality check. When planning, we think about any global conflicts, disease, etc. to avoid unnecessary drama, as we find that life brings enough surprises.
Choose your accommodation wisely
Any lifestyle shooter knows that sunrise and sunset are the most favorable times for great light (and great images). It is really important to choose where you stay carefully so you don’t waste precious time getting to and from your location. Ideally start and end your days exactly where you want to shoot. Don’t sacrifice price to stay in a hotel that is less expensive but will take you an additional hour and a half to reach your location and miss the best light. This is especially true if you are traveling with a big group. The more people in your party, the more time it takes to get them anywhere.
Plan around the best light
Plan your days around natural light. Lifestyle shoots don’t happen when you get to the location, they happen along the way, so keep a lookout for authentic moments en route. Plan downtime and meals when the light is the worst. For instance, don’t have a gorgeous dinner at sunset unless the plan is for dinner images. Eat meals and work on your image files when it’s too bright or dark out.
Source local talent
Casting models can be a challenge in remote locations. Fashion productions usually deal with this by bringing in models. But for Tiny Atlas, we try to work with local agencies and through referrals to find models who are ideally from the area. They will look like locals, speak the language, drive their own cars, and it’s awesome to meet more people to help you really connect with the place.
Bad makeup and hair can ruin any great lifestyle production. If you can bring a great hair and makeup artist (ideally one person who can do both) who you trust, it is a great value. If you can’t, just try to shoot models with gorgeous skin and you are all set.
Bring a variety of wardrobe options
Some models have wardrobe that is our style and some don’t. To make sure we have what we need we to insure great imagery we collaborate with brands we like (and reach out to new ones we are interested in working with) to pull some key pieces from their collections. Don’t bring too much, though. You are responsible to get pieces back to showrooms and the more you pull, the more you have to deal with returning. Also, you will likely shoot fewer looks than you may plan on for a lifestyle day (usually just 1-3 changes, or 1 look with layers) so save yourself the baggage fees and hassle with a tight edit, leaving pieces that aren’t key to the shoot at home.
Find support during and after the set
If you can have a digital tech on set with you your life will be much easier on the post side. At Tiny Atlas we often don’t have that luxury so we will just shoot all day though and download and organize files in the evening. I have often fallen asleep after a long day while backing up my work. Note: Backup your work and your phone! People often lose / have phones stolen while on the road and sometimes your favorite memories are there.
If you don’t have support on the post production side, have a process around file management and a naming convention. For guidance, ask a great digital tech how they organize. I just started to work more with Lightroom CC and Lightroom Mobile and it is really cool to be able to see the changes applied across devices.
See more images from Tiny Atlas and Tahiti on Fotolia.