east & west sussex,UK
These were my exact thoughts when I first heard about remote shoots, former known as FaceTime shoots, as in the early days the only way to do a remote photoshoot via someones phone was through either FaceTime, Skype or Zoom. The photographer would have a videochat with the model/client where images were taken through a screenshot – and you probably can imagine that quality, especially when the internet connection did not play along too well.
Oh by the way, with early days I mean early 2020. Yep, not that long ago and remote shoots weren’t even a thing. But then Covid hit (hard) and with the lockdowns ever since we all had to learn how long one year can feel when your reality becomes daily face coverings, news binges and self-quarantining. Some started sourdough, others a depression and me, well sooner or later I ended up trying to do these miraculous remote shoots myself. It only took me about a year to get over the “Why should I even?” and just go ahead and do it, for the fun of it, setting all my doubts and worries aside. And you know what? It was fun! As weird and awkward probably everyone involved feels videocalling a total stranger, virtually walking through their homes, advising on how to pose and where to put the phone, secured in a sneaker or on top of a pile of books leaning against the pot of your beloved houseplant (that you also got sometime during the pandemic to at least have one living thing keeping you company whilst isolating) – every session so far was a blast, it feels good to finally be able to connect to others again without worrying about any safety rules or even leaving the house and getting a ton of great photos out of it in the end.
But let’s finally answer the question everyone has been waiting for: what exactly is a remote shoot and how do they work?
It’s actually quite simple: I call you via a pretty cool super-videocall app on your phone, we have a quick videochat to get to know each other, you show me your place and together we decide where the shoot is going to take place, look for the best light and which backgrounds and utensils to use (some of my favs are lights of all sorts, plants, your bed and a chair). After we found a way to secure your phone – this can be done in many ways, either with a tripod, a pile of books, a sneaker or a tin of canned food and a hairband (yes, seriously – thanks to virtual shoot pioneer Tim Dunk for this idea) I am going to take over control of your phone camera (just for the duration of our call, don’t worry!) and we start with the actual shoot.
For that we are using your back camera which means you will be facing the back of your phone. Seems weird, but ensures us a) a better image quality and b) a care free feeling for you as you don’t have to worry about how you look or feel weird whilst seeing yourself in the screen doing funny things in front of the phone. I got you. I will guide you through the whole session, will tell you if your fringe has parted or your shirt has a funny wrinkle. You don’t need to know anything about posing – in fact I don’t even want you to pose. Just be yourself. No matter if you are insecure, quiet, a secret dance lover, loud and funny or weird and sometimes a bit awkward – that is exactly what we want to capture, we want you and not a fake photo version of it. And together we will create images that are exactly you.
Let’s start with the shoot! Thanks to the Shutter app I can set the focus manually where I want it to be (and make sure to show you all clear and sharp), balance the exposure and of course take pictures. These will not be stored on your phone, so no worries – I will not spam your gallery with hundreds of shots of your pretty face – instead they are magically uploaded to my computer whilst our session, ready for me to download and edit like I would after a regular in-person session with my camera. And because we don’t work with screenshots but actual camera images from your phone lens the quality of the photos is pretty impressively good. Have a look through the gallery below to see for yourself! Depending on the phone you are using the resolution usually is around 3000×4000 px.
This also mean the internet connection doesn’t need to be great to get good quality images, even if our call is all pixels and blurred screens – this never effects the photos as they are 100% controlled by your camera.
After a good 30-45 minutes (to tell you the truth, with all the chatting in between I rarely end under an hour – so no worries, I will never pressure you “just because our time is up”, a good vibe and pretty photos are way more important to me than a booked time slot, so I will always choose you over time) we are done, depending on the internet connections all the images I took will be automatically uploaded from your phone straight to my computer. In some cases you might have to leave the app open on your phone for another 5 minutes to make sure all images are sucessfully uploaded but after that you can either close the app or delete it right away if you don’t plan on more virtual shoots. No traces left and no phone memory wasted.
Now you can lean back and just wait for me to return your pretty edited photos to you in your own personal online gallery. After I downloaded all the pictures, did a rough selection to sort out the usual few blurry and blinky ones I edit the rest for you in my style and upload them to your private gallery. You will get a link to access the gallery and select your 10 favourite images to download in high-res. Want more? No problem – attached to the gallery is a store that lets you either buy more digital files or even get your favourites printed, all easy and comfy from home!
And that’s it. Your first virtual shoot done.
Interested? More questions? Leave me a message, I’m looking forward to hear from you!