How to conduct a carefully social distanced photo shoot in the new Covid Era

Sabina Motasem minimalist wedding dress

Shooting our new Green Collection had to be postponed from the beginning of lockdown until mid-June. We managed to pull off a carefully social distanced shoot, with a lot of planning, several Zoom calls and lots of days doing reccies to find locations.

So how do you shoot safely in this new Covid-era? Here are my tips on how to pull off a successful shoot, whilst following all the government guidelines.

First step, do lots of research and plan, plan, plan

Find a theme and look up similar images that were taken in similar locations and light. We wanted to create a stylish shoot flooded with lots of natural light for a high-end, high-contrast luxe look. We had strong mood boards... it helped to communicate the idea and theme for the shoot with the team.

A great shoot starts with a great team

The make up and hair

Sally at Hair by Duboux and Birute Thomas worked remotely and helped to guide our model on how to apply her make-up and style her hair. I’ve worked with Sally and Birute before on some of our previous campaigns for the Nouveau the Siren collections.  They are two of the finest in the bridal industry.

In an ideal world, we’d have Sally and Birute there on hand applying the make-up and styling the hair personally with products they would bring with them. We couldn’t do that this time, so the way round it was to purchase a selection of vegan products from Tropics Skincare, and we gifted them to Zaneta, our model. We had lots of Zoom calls, where Birute and Sally walked Jeannette through all the steps in a couple of pre-shoot trials. Of course there was a final Zoom call on the day of the shoot too. This process took a lot longer than a usual shoot, so I would allow extra time.

Sabina Motasem minimalist wedding dress
Sabina Motasem minimalist wedding dress

The model

I loved Zaneta's natural look, it was fresh and modern. We opted for a natural look for hair and a glowing, radiant look for her make up. This was Jeanette’s first time at doing a virtual shoot too, and I wanted her to feel comfortable on the day. We were shooting our debut vegan range of wedding dresses, and it just so happened that Jeannette was also vegan and an accomplished artist.

Sabina Motasem minimalist wedding dress

The stylist

Our art director and stylist @rebekahroy, who’s also a vegan, and about to relaunch Bare Fashion as the place to go to for beautiful vegan clothes, was on hand for all art direction. She helped steam everything and Jeanette dressed herself in her flat.

Sabina Motasem minimalist wedding dress

The photographer

@rogerwooldridgephoto is a very good friend of mine, and a talented portrait photographer. He’s always wanted to shoot a fashion story, so this was a fun collaborative shoot for us. The process started with a selection of really strong photos I found that made creative use of strong shadows to create our mood boards. Before the shoot, we tested out a few shots in the locations we had in mind and experimented with different angles.

Sabina Motasem minimalist wedding dress

Check the weather several days ahead

The success of this shoot depended on the weather. We had to delay the shoot a few times because of this, and when we saw there would be just amazing sunshine pretty much all week, with hardly any cloud, we knew this was the time to shoot! It ended up being one of the hottest days of the year with blistering 31-degree heat. So while we had the sun we wanted, it was really tricky to shoot in that kind of heat!

Sabina Motasem minimalist wedding dress

Shoot close to where the model lives

It made lots of sense to find a suitable location close to where the model lived in sunny tropical Deptford... Luckily there were lots of pretty cool spots to create strong images. On a normal shoot in a studio, we’d be able to get through lots of different shoots with one set up. Shooting outside, you have to allow time to set up each shot and plan where to shoot when. You need to allow extra time for the model to go home and change into the next outfit. In a studio, the changing areas are close to where you’re shooting, so it’s easier to shoot and whizz through different looks.

 Sabina Motasem minimalist wedding dress
Sabina Motasem minimalist wedding dress
Sabina Motasem minimalist wedding dress

Keep your eyes peeled for a potential creative shot

You might have a plan for the day, but keep your eyes peeled for any ad hoc locations that could work. Sometimes the magic of creating stunning images involves catching a shot in a spot you come across there and then. It made sense, as this is our first sustainable and vegan range, to incorporate a little foliage. This isn’t something we planned for, but it worked so beautifully… and really we got two different stories out of one shoot.

One of the benefits of having someone like Rebekah on the shoot, a stylist with over 20 years experience, was she really has that eye for a shot that maybe no one else spots. She came up with the idea of having greenery in some of the shots. I think some of these shots have a kind of fairy tale quality to them too.

Sabina Motasem minimalist wedding dress
Sabina Motasem minimalist wedding dress

Remember to take a reflector

When it’s really sunny, there are very strong dark shadows. You may need to lift some of those shadows with a relfector. Our theme was to take high contrast, incredibly sunny images, which means the shadows were fairly dark. There were times where the light was so stunning, but we only had a window of about 15 mins to get as many shots as possible before the shadows completely enveloped the entire space. I was surprised to see how quickly shadows move. If a reflector doesn’t work, you can always lift some of these shadows in photoshop using curves and masks.

Sabina Motasem minimalist wedding dress

Live-stream the shoot

I dusted off my photography skills and took a few pics myself, whilst carefully positioning my mobile in my shoulder purse to simultaneously live stream via a WhatsApp video with Sally, Birute and our production manager so they could join the shoot in real time. I wanted them to feel like they were part of the shoot on the day.

Sabina Motasem minimalist wedding dress

Safety continues after the shoot

Needless to say, all the dresses were quarantined for 72 hours and steamed after the shoot.

Keep going right till the end… get that last shot

I have to say, it’s a lot more harder work being on a location shoot. So much more running around, and you get through less dresses than you can in a studio. Throw in 31 degree heat too, and it wasreally hard work. By 16.30 I was ready to call it a day, but Rebekah and Roger pushed for that final shot. I’m really glad they did as that last shot was such a beauty!

Sabina Motasem minimalist wedding dress

Really proud of what we were able to create together...

On a normal shoot, some of the dresses need a little tweaking with a pin here and there. But luckily, each of the size 10 dresses fitted like a dream on Jeanette and they were the right length on her, being 5ft 10 in heels. I could see all the time that we spent over lockdown getting these dresses just right really paid off. The result are these beautiful images. 

Sabina Motasem minimalist wedding dress

See The Green Collection - a new sustainable, vegan and luxe range of dresses

See our brides - here

July 20, 2020 by Sabina Ali
Tags: inspo News

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