Last month I had my first virtual photoshoot. Let’s be real: we’ll be locked down for a while, and while photoshoots aren’t always ‘essential’ for all of us, they are a nice treat and they help many get some much needed promotion shots and/or social media content. If you’re thinking of doing a virtual photoshoot too, check out my quick guide to make the most out of it.
My virtual photoshoot
I spent the whole of Lockdown 1 trying to shoot my own pictures. Most of the time it went ok, but it wasn’t always a “premium” experience, and I was bloody tired of seeing my kitchen or my wardrobe in the background of my Instagram grid. Luckily I spotted @atomic.tangerine, who specialises in burlesque and glamour shoots, on IG and I immediately knew a shoot with her would have done the trick.
I did my first virtual photoshoot with Atomic Tangerine last month, as a post-PhD completion treat to myself and to have the best lockdown pics I could have for my recent Pole Junkie blog post round-up. She somehow managed to photoshop even the trickiest backgrounds in my house, and gave me the ideal pictures for my blog post and for Insta.
Pre virtual shoot considerations
Preparing for a virtual photoshoot isn’t too different from preparing for an offline shoot, so some of the things I’m about to say may sound familiar – but some aspects of the virtual, long-distance side of things are worthy of consideration.
Talk with your photographer
Just like with an offline shoot, before you sign up for your virtual photoshoot make sure you get accustomed with your photographer’s shooting and editing style. For instance, Atomic Tangerine’s beautiful pictures feature a lot of retouching in terms of light and skin, but I wanted to be as “real” as possible because that suits my personality and my audience better: I want my six-pack to show and I want my students to know I’m not asking to look skinnier or prettier for the ‘Gram (although we all post the best version of ourselves). Once you’ve done your research, communicate your needs to the photographer.
Lastly, make sure you check how much time you’ve got with the photographer and how many pictures are included in your shoot to avoid any disappointments.
Time and Space
A virtual photoshoot means that you have less limits in terms of the photographers you can collaborate with: even if time zones are different, you may suddenly be able to shoot with someone in a different country. But time zones are still worthy of note: depending on the shoot you’re going for, you may need daylight, so it’s essential that you agree that with the photographer (and get the time right).
A virtual shoot may be more time efficient: you may be able to book that in at a more convenient time, in between different activities or jobs, without having to book a whole day or half day to include the commute. And, because you may not be commuting, you may have all the materials, outfits and make-up you need – but you may be restricted in space, access to light, and maybe by flatmates!
How does a virtual photoshoot happen?
Every photographer may use different techniques, apps and equipment, but in my case, Atomic Tangerine asked me to download an app called Clos.
Clos is an app where your photographer can create a room for a photoshoot, invite your to the virtual space and shoot within the app, to then save high resolution pictures onto their drives. It’s a quick and easy process that isn’t unlike getting invited to a Zoom meeting – and you will have done plenty of those by now!
Your photographer will direct you when posing, and will probably ask you to move your phone around to get the most out of the space and light.
You will soon find out that you may have to hold poses for longer, or change them slower, because connection issues, or the simple fact you’re shooting through an extra device, might make your images look blurry.
Now, without further ado, here are my tips to nail your virtual photoshoot!
#1 Get some virtual shoot tools and check your equipment
When you sign up for your virtual shoot, your photographer should ask you what equipment you have available. I had most things I needed, but had to buy some.
Lockdown 1 was the time I finally bought a tiny tripod / selfie stick with a bluetooth remote. In Lockdown 2, my partner got me some lights for my pole videos. Now, in Lockdown 3, I *officially* became a blogger – I caved in and got myself a ring light for my virtual shoot. Most of these items are available online: with a quick Google you will see the cheap ones cost between £10 and £20. They will make your shoot easier, your pictures better, and you will use them forever afterwards.
You may want to consider getting some colourful backgrounds, but because I don’t have any space where to put them at home, I avoided them.
Of course, the most obvious piece of equipment of them all is your phone – and having a phone with a good camera can go a long way to help you get the pictures you want. Investing in a new phone for a virtual photoshoot might be a bit much, but make sure your phone isn’t completely hopeless before investing in a virtual shoot, and check that you’ve done all the updates and charged everything on shoot day.
#2 Prep your outfits
This may sound obvious, but when you’ve got limited time with a photographer, you want to line up all your outfits in a space that is both out of the camera’s way and easy to access for you to change.
I set myself up for quite the challenge during Atomic Tangerine’s shoot because I wanted to wear four pairs of stripper heels and had to shoot five outfits for my Pole Junkie review. So I lined all of them up somewhere I knew the camera wasn’t going to go. That way – and also because most of those outfits were tiny! – I managed to get all the shots I needed.
#3 Experiment with make-up beforehand
I don’t know about you, but make-up isn’t something I’m particularly good at. My go-to look is lipstick, some powder and mascara. I’m lazy. But for a photoshoot – and particularly for a virtual photoshoot where you’re being photographed through a tiny camera – you want some show-stopping, phone crashing beautiful make-up.
I’m not great at learning from YouTube tutorials because I have hooded eyes and my face doesn’t look like most beauty bloggers’: it’s round, my eyes are hooded and my nose looks like a giant potato. I also don’t own a lot of make-up, palettes or brushes. So basically I’m lazy AF and useless. Luckily one of my first pole friends from Sydney, Joy, who’s a fellow academic, has taken pity on my lack of skills and has been doing make-up Zoom chats with me to teach me easy, glam make-up I can do by myself with my limited abilities.
If you have a friend like Joy, try and learn from them before your shoot. Those skills will end up to be useful! If you don’t, try to experiment with make-up beforehand, to make sure you have perfected the look that most suits your face ahead of your shoot. I have used easy tutorials like the one below by the amazing Smitha Deepak, who has eyes similar to mine.
My friend and fellow Sardinian Lidia from The Lidia Edit also has some very easy-to-follow tutorials, like the one below.
Whatever your style, experiment with your make-up a few days before the shoot. Then, on shoot day, do your make-up allowing for extra time in case you get it wrong or in case it gets messy.
#4 Do a recce in your house
My house has been my pole studio since 2018 – and you can set up your own by reading this post. That being said, lockdowns really do show the limits of your own little space when it comes to finding suitable backgrounds for a virtual shoot.
I quickly realised that my house has got only two neutral-ish backgrounds where my body and my outfits aren’t upstaged by a wardrobe or a kitchen. So make sure you do a recce in your house before your shoot, potentially chatting to the photographer or sending them pictures, to be certain that they’ll be able to work with your space. Atomic Tangerine was awesome with my house, and managed to photoshop the curtains in a way that gave my living room some super extra Twin Peaks Black Lodge vibes – and I am living for it.
#5 Choose your poses
Last but not least, just like any offline shoot, your virtual photoshoot will be so much better if you get to the day knowing which poses you’re going to do. So do a bit of research on Instagram, ask other dancers / models in Facebook and online groups to show you their poses, and choose both your outfits and ‘home locations’ for each pose.
And that’s it! That’s all the advice I can think of to help you prep for your virtual shoot. Would love to read yours in the comments or on social media 🙂
Atomic Tangerine Discount
Want to do a shoot with Atomic Tangerine? She generally charges £80 for 10 pics, but she’s got a deal going on – the first five people who book via my code BLOGGERONPOLE get 8 shots for £50 🙂