On my second day as an editorial intern at Tuber, my supervisor, Maziah, asked, “Would you like to assist at the photo shoot next week?”

For a moment, I hesitated at the request. Could I do it? As a communication studies student, I had some experience with shoots in photojournalism class. Yet, they have always been a daunting prospect: Photo shoots meant meeting strangers, directing them to pose and writing their stories on their behalf. Furthermore, the final product would have a wider readership (rather than just my professor). As a shy introvert, thinking about these interactions set off alarm bells in my head.

Thankfully, my role at the shoot at the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) office was minor this time, and I was able to observe from the sidelines and learn from my colleagues. I was also thrilled to catch a glimpse into the fascinating world of weather forecasting. This made me look forward to the shoot, which turned out great! By the end of the shoot, I learnt that a photo shoot is more than just pointing a camera and taking photos.

Here are my three main takeaways:

#1 Build rapport with the subject

Throughout the shoot, Norman (the photographer) and Lei (the writer) engaged in small talk with the subject. This helped her to feel more comfortable and pose more naturally. I realised that building a connection with the subject can help with achieving more authentic shots. It may be out of my comfort zone to talk freely with strangers, but the shoot allowed me to recognise the value of making an effort to connect.

#2 Be curious

Ask questions, even seemingly unimportant ones. Asking more questions allows you to gain a better understanding of the subject’s personality and job. Even the smallest detail can unlock a wealth of information! Ultimately, you want to ask the right questions so you do justice to your subject’s story.

#3 Get the shot you need

Don’t be economical with the shots you take. Norman took a variety of shots — even similar ones with different compositions and lenses. This strategy gave us a range of photo options to choose from after the shoot. If I were a photographer, I might have felt hesitant to ask the subject to pose again and again. However, to capture the best shot possible, it is essential to go after what you need without feeling embarrassed.

Beyond picking up some important tips on photo shoots, this shoot taught me an important life lesson: don’t be afraid to try new things! New experiences at work might seem scary at first, but they ultimately provide opportunities for growth.

Text by: Erin Liam  | Illustration by: Liew Xinyi