What Goes on at a CEF Photoshoot?


Jaishree Narsih

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes of a CEF photoshoot? CEF collaborates with many different photographers and there is a lot of work that goes into producing a single photo shoot to yield the stock photos which are then posted on Getty Images. Kate Stevens, Creative Director at CEF, is here to give us a little bit of insight and take us behind the scenes of her role. She has been with CEF for five years doing editing and occasional art directing in the last seven months, has taken on the role of Creative Director.

Kate Stevens

Photoshoot days are hectic and there is a lot that needs to be done! The day starts with a quick run through with hair, makeup, and styling to outline expectations and setup for the day. While the models are getting ready, Kate runs through the shot list and expectations with the photographer and walks through the location to determine the best start setup. A lot of this planning is done well in advance of the photoshoot day; however, being flexible is very important. Many factors including lighting and weather can require switching up the shots to get the best results.

Here is an excerpt from Kate outlining some of the behind the scenes specifics:

“Once the photographer and team have the lighting set up I’d get the model/s on set and run through specific shot requirements. I would by this point have discussed with the photographer how they wish to direct the set…often too many directives and voices are confusing for the models. Some photographers find it easier to give direction than others. Ideally it is a collaborative process…you see the shot on the laptop (if they are shooting tethered) and you can immediately pick up on what needs adjusting or changing. Throughout the day your job is to make sure the shots are achieved and to keep the photographer moving on through the set-ups. You constantly keep an eye on the clock and need to be thinking one, two, three sets ahead to get styling and sets prepped to avoid long delays. I would usually get a copy of the day’s shoot on hard drive before leaving.”

This is only some of what goes on during a photoshoot – a large shoot requires a lot of planning and the better the planning, the stronger the shoot.

I asked Kate what she enjoys most about her role. She said that she enjoys it all “from putting together an overall production plan and budget, engaging photographers in projects, to putting briefs together, helping out on the shoots and the nuts and bolts of production…finding the right location, models and assembling a shoot crew! Seeing the results in editing is very rewarding.”

Kate’s biggest challenge is working with the fluidity. As mentioned in the above overview, planning and organizing a photoshoot requires many different aspects to come together and you always have to be flexible and adjust to any changes that may be required.

As CEF approaches its 10-year anniversary, we have a few interesting photoshoot prospects coming up! This includes a contemporary look at the workplace and business owner shoots featuring the actual owners and an environmental shoot which is in the early stages of planning. There are going to be shoots in Vancouver as well as Toronto, Montreal, and London with hopes to bring Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle into the mix as well. There are also preliminary talks to bring in and work with some new photographers – more on that as things get finalized! Steven Errico (Photographer), Amy Jones (Producer), Hero Images (photography team) and Julie Francoeur in Canada are fantastic shooters who contribute every year and make a huge difference to projects supported by CEF.