6 Tips for a Successful FaceTime Photoshoot

25 June 2020

While there’s no denying that social distancing measures have thrown a spanner into the works of life, they’re not without a silver lining. In between disrupted daily routines and more time than usual spent indoors, there’s one major plus side: Having plenty of time to develop our photography skills at home. In our opinion, social distancing has presented a rare opportunity to get creative and experiment with different photography techniques.

One technique we’ve discovered recently? FaceTime photoshoots. If you’ve got a smartphone or camera with a webcam, you can use these to take indoor photos of your model from a safe distance. It’s a great way to polish your portrait photography skills at home, and to learn how to communicate more effectively with our models. Plus, once social distancing measures have lifted, you can continue to use your new online photography skills to capture subjects who aren’t located near you. It’s a win-win!

Keen to try this creative photoshoot idea for yourself? Read on to discover our 6 top tips for nailing a long-distance photoshoot.

1. Sort out the technical details

As with any photoshoot, to ensure things run as smoothly as possible, you’ll want to iron out any technical issues before you start shooting.

First and foremost, confirm that both you and your subject have access to a fast and secure WiFi network. A speedy WiFi connection on both sides will help you give clear and concise instructions in real-time, and with as little lag as possible. It’ll also allow you to capture special moments as they happen - and reduce the risk of those frames freezing or disappearing due to technical issues.

Once you’ve sorted out WiFi, turn your attention to your device. To capture your images, you’ll need to take a screenshot of the feed. If you’re using FaceTime or a video conferencing platform, you can simply press the shutter icon when you’re ready to snap a photo. If you’re using a device that doesn’t offer an easy way to capture skills, learn how to take a screenshot before the shoot. 

Top Tip: You may need to crop out icons and buttons while editing FaceTime photos, so bear this in mind while directing your subject on where to stand.

6 Tips for a Successful FaceTime Photoshoot6 Tips for a Successful FaceTime Photoshoot

2. Set realistic expectations

6 Tips for a Successful FaceTime Photoshoot6 Tips for a Successful FaceTime Photoshoot

Obviously, the pictures you take during your online photoshoot won’t quite match the quality of those you capture on your DSLR camera, and that’s okay! After all, you’re using a phone or webcam instead of a high-end camera, and you can’t be in close contact with your model: You can only do the best with what you have.

With that in mind, consider this creative photoshoot as an opportunity to learn and develop your skills. It’s a great way to practice communicating with your model, which is the key to any successful portrait photoshoot.

You can also focus on keeping your photographic eye sharp and using your shoot to tell a unique, compelling story. Many brands and photographers are sharing unconventional images that they’ve shot during these uncertain times - meaning there’s plenty of inspiration out there!

3. Chat to your model in the leadup to the shoot

Just like any other shoot, it’s a good idea to connect with your model beforehand and make sure you’re comfortable working together. Try to set up a call a week or two before the shoot and work your way through these topics:

  • Your goal for the shoot. You won’t be there for on-the-spot creative direction, so let your model know exactly what you’re envisioning. You could even send them images to use as examples, so they can select their outfits and practice their poses.
  • The location of the shoot. Chances are, the shoot will take place at your model’s home. Ask them to hop on a video call and give you a tour of their place so you can scout locations. Remember, indoor photo lighting is king, so look for areas that let in plenty of natural light.

If you and your model live in different regions, factor in the time zones when you schedule your shoot. Typically, the early morning and late afternoon is best for clear, crisp natural light photography.

6 Tips for a Successful FaceTime Photoshoot6 Tips for a Successful FaceTime Photoshoot

4. Give clear instructions on the day

6 Tips for a Successful FaceTime Photoshoot6 Tips for a Successful FaceTime Photoshoot

On a regular shoot, you can easily move photoshoot props around or adjust your composition. During a FaceTime shoot, however, you’ll need to communicate these changes with your voice alone.

Your model will understand that this shoot will be trickier and slower than a standard photoshoot. You’re relying on them to adjust their angles and poses, so don’t be afraid to give instructions and advice about all elements of the shoot, no matter how small they may seem.

This is a true collaborative effort between you and your model, and you can do your part by being clear on what you want and keeping your tone of voice friendly and encouraging.

5. Brush up on your portrait photography skills

As we said earlier, the portraits you capture in your remote photoshoot may not be outstanding from a technical perspective - but there’s a lot you can do to boost the quality of your FaceTime photos!

To create interesting portraits, follow these tips:

  • Shoot from unique angles. Ask your model to place their phone on the floor and pose above it, or instruct them to find a higher vantage point and angle their phone down. The best portrait photography sparks curiosity, and a simple change in angle can make that happen!
6 Tips for a Successful FaceTime Photoshoot6 Tips for a Successful FaceTime Photoshoot
  • Set your model up with a phone mount or tripod. It’ll be a lot easier for you and your model to experiment with composition if they don’t have to clutch their phone in their hand. If you can’t or don’t want to lend your own, you can always ask your model to rent camera gear.
  • Play around with lighting. If the model’s home has low or harsh lighting, try working with those conditions, instead of against them. Shadows and extreme contrasts can lead to ethereal portrait shots.
  • Look for interesting props and textured backgrounds. These elements may help you to weave a narrative into your images.

6. Leave time for editing!

6 Tips for a Successful FaceTime Photoshoot6 Tips for a Successful FaceTime Photoshoot

Because you have less control over your image, you’ll need to invest a little more time into the photo editing process. Depending on the FaceTime live photos you end up with, you might convert your images to black and white, or crop a little more drastically than you’re used to. You can also experiment with filters and presets to achieve an unusual effect.

There’s no getting around the fact that any photos captured by webcams or smartphones will be lo-fi, so embrace this at the editing stage. Try adding grain effects or borders to your images, or present a few online photos side-by-side to convey a narrative. Have fun with it!

Come prepared for your FaceTime Photoshoot

Boost your indoor photography skills at home

Social distancing measures may mean that you spend more time indoors than usual, but that’s no reason to put your photography  on the backburner! Experimenting with a FaceTime photoshoot is an excellent way to keep your skills sharp and develop communication and creative skills you’ll use long after life returns to normal.

Ready to schedule your first online photoshoot? Explore our range of photography accessories now to get the gear you need, or find more inspiration on our blog.

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