The Project Strikes Back
A Star Wars Themed Photo Shoot
the project management life of a photographer
It all started out with a concept: sporty Stormtroopers. No, I was not going the cosplay route, thats been done, and turns rather “over-done” . I had wanted to re-create a Stormtrooper look with off the shelf outfits, props and I have no skill at crafting anything out of abs or 3d printing.
What this concept became, in retrospect and upon reflection, was an execution of a full project and my own realization of truly being a project manager not a photographer…
From Wikipedia: A project is a temporary endeavor designed to produce a unique product, service or result with a defined beginning and end (usually time-constrained, and often constrained by funding or staffing)…..
All of this is then tied into the Project management Triangle, which is a case of Zen balance. How do you balance all three items and ensure quality does not suffer.
…fairly straight forward but to execute a number of requirements needed to be met, especially with three storm troopers in the middle of winter.
Planning and Execution
Stormtroopers – the models, I had put out a call for models. Two criteria were are available to shoot in December (see time / location below) and ensure that the “aren’t you a little too short to be a storm trooper” does not occur ensure that all of the storm troopers were the same height.
Make up Artist – A makeup artist who would be able to do consistent makeup for 3 models within a 1-2 hour timeline (see below)
Photography Assistant – I had to ask around to see who I can rope in to help out. Candidate was found (unlisted and un-credited due to possible failure of marriage due to being around models? ok that is a project outside of MY scope) .
Shoot Location and Time:
Time – Shoot needed to be executed before December release of the Last Jedi, also in a time when models can be available and have beauty sleep to ensure glowing skin (see MUA)
Location – We actually shot this in December in prep for Last Jedi release, therefore an indoor location was required.
Shooting outdoor in Vancouver was not an option as the available outfits (see Costumes below) did not allow for sufficient body heat retention. Although, Vancouver is not a very cold city compared to the rest of Canada its still cold. No we did not get snow in December, and temperatures were still around 0-5 Celsius (low 30s in Fahrenheit – thx Greg N).
The solution was an indoor space, I was able to locate an indoor green screen location in the city and ensure it could be booked after hours to allow for schedule of the models and makeup artist. Also it needed heaters, if you are shooting in any studio location in the winter MAKE SURE you have heaters going HOURS before the shoot to warm up the space and the air.
At first it seems quite simple shoot models dressed up as stormtroopers. The break down of this becomes a bit more complex, from looks and outfits to make up and gear. (for those who asked about the outfits details for cosplay this is a fairly detailed breakdown)
Outfits – Finding the props and styles was perhaps the trickiest with first looking for costumes online. Amazon was my first choice, however, the quality of the costumes was a bit too cheesy where as the prices for the more advanced costumes was quite high.
Costs -As this was an unfunded project (i.e. funded by me) I wanted to ensure the costs were not too crazy.
Breaking down the costume: Working with the black and white concept the solution came together, helmets and guns had to be ordered online and from Toys R US, the tops were sports/workout bra-tops from Sport Check. The bottoms and stockings Amazon had latex style leggings and shorts were from a local sports store. The boots were a courtesy of a local “fashion” store, and through negotiation I was able to rent them vs buying them as long as no outdoor shoots were done to scuff or dirty them.
Makeup was to be completed in about 1 hour for 3 models, to prepare I had to ensure the models and the MUA were in touch. This allowed them to communicate in advance of the shoot to check for any allergies, skin concerns so the makeup artist knew what to work with.
Also to ensure that a consistent makeup free or basic foundation was in place for all models when then came to the location. Yes I know way too much about this side of the business, but it helps to know and be aware..
The makeup artist was amazing and consistent and yes although storm troopers wear helmets! Great work by Andrea Kristina http://www.instagram.com/akristina
Shooting, that’s easy, lighting, gear and the actual shoot, it was business as usual. Really this is the easiest part, yes I had to manage lighting, and help with poses, ensure the models knew how to hold blasters, but compared to all the prep this was a piece of cake for me.
Note – Well except for one thing, the green screen room kept casting a green hue due to color contamination on the white of the trooper outifts. This is covered here in a great petapixel article: https://petapixel.com/2018/02/28/problem-color-contamination-photography/
What Did I Learn:
….Thinking back on the project which I started planning around October 2017 and executed on December 12 2017 it was about two months of work. The results, costs were maintained within reason, and the models ended up with a sporty outfits to keep (along some got trooper helmets which could be re-purposed for another shoot).
In closing, this is what went into this shoot, coordination, planning, execution, last minute changes and revisions, minor cost overruns. With some amazing results and lessons learned for the future. For you, all I can say is if YOU are planning a shoot, YOU ARE THE PROJECT MANAGER!
PS.. and personal grumble, due to the Last Jedi, but that’s a different story.