It is always exciting to get your first assignment and it can get a little overwhelming. Here is my experience and some tips :)
Assignment: Work with a prop house. Create two images for this project: a still life (part of the model visible) and a portrait. Both images must include the identical rented prop, while telling a similar story. The images must look like they were created at least 35 years ago.
So I got an idea of including a couple in a shot. For some reason I thought of re-creating Napoleon and Josephine's image. I printed out the mood board and made some sketches on how the models would be positioned in a frame. Roughly, I started planning the process of production and here what I came to.
Day 1 Model Casting
Big thanks to Lee Strasberg institute, I found two models who came to SMC campus and test-shot with me. I only wanted to meet them in person and do the light test.
Day 2 Costume Picking
Luckily, both models (and a wardrobe stylist) had time to go to North Hollywood with me to pick the right costumes we needed. The shop also gave us a few prop medals to support the war costume! You would need a very flexible credit line to rent from any of prop houses in LA. Although, all the deposit comes back on your card once the items are returned on time and in the same condition. For smaller deposits, you would need a commercial insurance and an account with a rental house.
Day 3 Studio Preparing
I scouted the location beforehand and made a reservation. The studio was in fashion district, so my assistant and I just walked to the closest store and bought a roll of red velour. The wardrobe stylist stitched it together so it looked like curtains!
I was also looking for some furniture to rent, but we were running out of budget. I was buying very old-looking books at the last book store in downtown LA and saw this wonderful chair!
They ended up renting it to me!
Same night I also found the carpet and brought it to the studio while the wardrobe stylist was finishing the curtains.
Day 4 Shooting
Batteries charged, catering provided, reference images taped to the wall. Make up artists are at the studio an hour earlier, assistants setting up the lights! You want to think of everything! Ask yourself questions. How much time it would take for each action? How much time do I need to break down and clean up? What are the location terms? etc
I couldn't stop myself from shooting only two images, so we went for more. There are a few moods I wanted to re-create - strong possession, being unmasked (from betrayal) and presentation of the personae. It was a great experience making this first little production!