123's of Prepping for a Photoshoot!

 1. Don't panic! Remember that the more you prepare in advance the smoother your shoot will go. Unfortunately that's only in theory - things can always go wrong regardless of how much you prepare. But you make your life easier by not winging a shoot and your chances of killin' it certainly increase.

2. Make sure you know in advance what your purpose is - what exactly are you intending to create and WHY? Once that's figured out, every aspect of the creating process becomes much easier. By reminding yourself what you're setting out to do, you can become an active decision-maker and conscious photographer. Photography is not just clicking a button, after all.

3. Now that you know your purpose - do your research. Make sure what you are creating is as believable as possible. I find that pinterest boards help in organizing my research, thoughts, ideas, and inspiration.

4. If you're as senile as I am, you're going to need to make a checklist of equipment-related items you bring with you on every shoot. My problem is that I sometimes forget to check the checklist, but that's a different story!

The following is my basic checklist. It doesn't include gear rentals, or lighting equipment. This works for my basic fine art portraiture sessions, where I'm not using much lighting equipment if at all. It works for me and hopefully might help you too!

  • Nikon D700
  • Tripod and tripod head
  • 35 mm lens
  • 50 mm lens
  • 1 - 2 reflectors/diffusers
  • charged batteries
  • 1-3 empty memory cards
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Safety pins
  • Cell phone charger
  • possibly 1-3 speedlights
  • Wardrobe & props
  • Snacks for everyone
  • Purell
  • Towels (in case the scenario involves water, mud, etc)
  • Contracts
  • Contact information of everyone involved in the photoshoot (models, MUA, assistant, etc)

Remember that there are also shoot-specific lists of things to bring. For example, when shooting underwater I have a very different list of gear and items that I bring!

5. Contracts are incredibly important and when you're just starting out, they can be very overwhelming. I completely understand but I assure you that they can cover your ass. You can believe that you are being as clear as possible but later on down the road your clients, models, or coworkers might disagree. And that's when you may run into problems. "Oh I wish I never made them sign a contract" said NO ONE EVER. Take the time to write contracts/release forms. Expect your contract files to stay in the editing process for a while. Review them with a lawyer. It takes time. But once they're done, they're done and you will never regret taking that step.

6. Ultimately, the whole point of this post comes down to one thing: taking yourself seriously. The best advice I can give anyone who is considering doing photography professionally is this: The goal is always to take your craft seriously, because if you don't why should anyone else? You might not feel like a "professional" in this moment. You might not believe you deserve that level of respect. In which case I'd say that taking the steps to fixing that IS taking your craft seriously. Preparing for your photoshoots ahead of time, being ready for any situation that you may face - these are small steps you can take to taking yourself more seriously and improving your craft. Always try to improve! :)

**All the photos in this post are behind the scenes of shoots I've done over the last couple of years**

DIY Handpainted Backdrop

In my dreamworld I'd love to own several high quality Oliphant backdrops but in my dreamworld I also have a much higher budget for this and generally much more money in my bank account. And so enters the do-it-yourself (DIY) attitude and some crossed fingers praying that I'm not crazy, wasting my time, or wasting my clients' time.

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Ballet in Jerusalem Forest (Behind the Scenes)

I spent my last day in Israel a couple of months ago photographing 2 professional ballet dancers in the Jerusalem Forest. It was a dream come true, and I thought I'd share some behind the scenes photos.

Big thank yous go to: Noa Cohen & Vito Conversano for modelling || Tali Tsour, Danielle Haltovsky &  Noam Berger for assisting || Emily Kedar for the beautiful poem pairings that can be read here & here.

Final images || Though there is a common theme, I think each piece stands alone.

How it was made: "Born of sea-foam"

I enjoy revealing the 'mystery' behind my images. I answer almost all questions about my work because I am self-taught and have learned a tremendous amount online primarily due to other people's generosity in sharing their experiences and knowledge. So why not pay it forward? I also enjoy being open about my process so that others can gain a better understanding or appreciation for what they are looking at. A lot goes into creating one single piece, and my recent image "Born in sea-foam" is a great example of that. 

I'm in Israel on a two month trip. I've been meaning to do a series with dancers (with a focus on ballerinas) and thought of taking advantage of the two months when I have less responsibilities than usual.

How was I going to find dancers in a country where I have close to 0 photography connections? Easy - the internet. I found a Facebook group page called Secret Tel Aviv that's primarily a connection place for English speaking youth who have recently moved to Israel. I wrote a post introducing myself and asking for dancers who are interested in creating images with me. I got around 60 responses. The majority were dancers, some were not, and others reached out wanting to help in other ways - makeup artists, assistants, etc. I was overwhelmed by the online community, by the strong desire to create and collaborate, and was thankful for the new connections I could reach out to.

Where was this shoot going to take place? After casually location scouting for a week or so, I found a gorgeous national park in Ashkelon - a city in the south of Israel. Most of the dancers that I wanted to work with were based in or around Tel Aviv - which is an hour away from the location. That meant that I had to find someone that was not only willing to give their time for the shoot itself but willing to travel for an hour as well. 

MAKING IT HAPPEN One girl REALLY stood out to me - Anastasia. She was very straightforward in her email, saying she wasn't a dancer but a saxophonist. That sparked my interest because I thought her sax could definitely be used as an interesting prop.  I also dug her look a lot. I asked her if she was interested and she said yes! This meant that I had to change the photo concepts to suit her skills - in other words, make the shoot less dance oriented.   

PROPS & WARDROBE A couple days before the shoot I went to Tel Aviv to search for cheap clothing and props I could use. I ended up purchasing 3 meters of red fabric and a strip of fabric with flowers attached that could be used as a belt all for under $12.

THE DAY. I had one concept planned beforehand. We ended up shooting in 3 different locations with the same fabric used as part of wardrobe in all three shoots. This included the concept I had thought out before, as well as two other spur of the moment shoots. Anastasia was fantastic, the weather was perfect, all went well!


This is the original NEF file that I opened in photoshop. This was one of the three shoots that was shot on the spot with no prior concepts. I didn't know what I was going to do but I liked her pose and thought I would play around with the image.


- I didn't like the composition and where she was placed very much. 

- The plant behind her needed to be removed - too distracting

- The overexposed sky needed to be removed - too distracting

- I felt that if there was some movement added - like her hair flowing and skirt moving, then the composition of the image would be strengthened. In other words, a viewer would not be stuck on one spot but rather their eyes would keep moving, over and over. That's something I strive for quite often. 

- I wasn't crazy about the colours either. 

In the two screenshots above, the changes noted before were made.

Now the fun part: playing with colours! The tools I used in Photoshop were: channel mixer, hue/saturation, selective colour and curves. 

I felt like there wasn't enough story to this image and wanted to add another dimension. I found some images I took of the ocean in Miami, Florida a couple of years ago and thought about maybe incorporating the water. Not that I have a big interest in horoscopes BUT I'm an Aquarius and love working with water in my images.

I can't find the exact photo I took of the water but what I was looking for was one where the perspective was similar to the image I was working with and one where the waves were very foamy. Why? Because I had the title "born of sea-foam" stuck in my head (inspired by the Roman goddess Venus) and wanted it to match. I blended in the water underneath her, playing with highlights and shadows as well as colours to make it look as believable as possible. 

That's it! If you have any questions feel free to ask either in the comment section below, on my Facebook page, or by email - info@liataharoni.com