Chase Jarvis TECH: Photo Shoot in 180 Seconds

So many of the photography videos out there show great behind-the-scenes footage and tons of gear-related details. This video is more than that. In this Chase Jarvis TECH, I’m responding to the dozens–seemingly hundreds–of emails I’ve received recently asking me to highlight the various steps that comprise a professional commercial photo shoot. Therefore, follow along in this 3 minute video as I walk you through a recent commercial assignment where I was hired to photograph 3 hot young golf ladies of the LPGA.

[And of course I included a lighting diagram and tech specs in the video for you photo geeks out there.]

Click the ‘continue reading’ link below for a more complete description of the shoot, including the 6 core components to almost every commercial gigs, a detailed list of the equipment used, and more.

We all like to focus on the creative aspects of our jobs as photographic artists. I know that’s my favorite part – it keeps us sane and engaged. However, often overlooked are the nuts and bolts, or the framework for what enables our professional creative vision to become a reality.

As you see in the vid, it’s my belief that nearly every commercial shoot has 6 core components or phases. Roughly, those are:

1. Contracts, creative concepting, and pre-production. In this phase you’re putting the deliverables in writing, your flexing your creative muscles with the client, and you (or your producer) are lining up the logistical details of the shoot.

2. Travel. While it’s not a component to every shoot (eg, in your studio?), it is a big part of many shoots. Whether you travel across the country, the world, or just your home town, you’re still moving bodies and equipment, and thus this deserves your attention.

3. Scouting. Whether you do it weeks, days, or hours in advance, you should–if at all possible–build time into your schedule to visit the location before you shoot. Take into consideration how the light looks, where the sun moves, logistical challenges, etc. Take sample images and look at various angles. Make a game plan.

4. Shooting. This is the fun part where you get to do all the stuff that made you want to be a photographer in the first place. Focus on creativity and executing your vision.

5. Post production. This is the step where you process your images, retouch them according to the client needs, and most importantly add your personal mojo. This is often overlooked, so be sure to build time into the schedule. (See an earlier post for my opinions on this.)

6 Delivery. Whether you deliver online via FTP or via hard drives, DVDs, or whatever media via Fed Ex, it’s important that you have a smooth system that works for both you and the client, with special attention to file format, color space, and timeline, etc.

Obviously, these 6 components are just a shell meant to act as a guideline. You could thin-slice this to death and include color palette review, stylist collaboration, prepping the models or talent, etc, but I’ve chosen to sort these things into these 6 larger buckets. Of course you could also add things before and after this set of six, like wooing the client before and following-up after the job with a thank you, etc. Again, I’m truncating these elements in favor of focusing on the big 6 elements so that you catch my drift.

Other specs from this job:
-I shot using the Nikon D3, and
-I shot primarily with the Nikkor 24-70mm 2.8 lens, and
-I shot primarily on a Bogen carbon fiber tripod and a Manfrotto head, and
-I shot tethered to an Apple MacBook Pro (see Pimped Laptop Case vid), and
-I shot directly into Apple Aperture, and
-I used 2 Profoto 7b packs, and
-I used Pocket Wizards to fire the strobes, and
-I used one medium and one small Chimera softbox.

The great LPGA golfers I was fortunate to shoot for this gig were:
-Erica Blasberg
-Charlotte Mayorkas
-Irene Cho

And, as always, feel free to post comments, ask questions, or lemme know what I forgot to include in the comments below.

Other Chase Jarvis TECH videos that might float your boat:
[Chase Jarvis TECH: Packing Photography Gear]
[Chase Jarvis TECH: POV Photography]
[Chase Jarvis TECH: Pimped Laptop Case]

For RSS readers…depeding on your reader, you may need to click here to see the video.

Miki says:

Stephen, I got the first letter and every one particular after EXCEPT Margaret Cho’s. Can you remedy that, please?

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Dylan says:

Great video!
Quick question: I was wondering how every picture has an incredible dynamic range. I see this all the time and just can’t seem to bring myself to believe that this is out of the camera. Do the flagship nikons really have this much or is it all done in post?

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androsterone says:

There are definitely a lot more details to take into consideration, but thanks for sharing this info.

Ebony Gragas says:

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Eliot Baker says:

I know this is late but where in San Francisco is this? What Golf course and what hole? not sure about the golf lingo but just wondering. Also, are the strobes set to about 1 stop above the ambient light? Im in San Francisco and would love to help out and learn if you even need a hand or need a studio. I have a failrly large studio I would be more than happy for you to use at your disposal. I just want to watch and learn.

Boyd Manier says:

Thanks for the facts!

Well I'm about a yr and a half late on this (lol), but thanks for posting this. It was pretty cool.

magicsnaps says:

Reassured by your faith in Aperture (.2 presumably). I tried Aperture and Lightroom demos after deciding to move on from C1Pro but at first missed the certainty of the white balance and white and black point settings using a white/black/grey strip in the shots. Only really settled for Aperture since we run Macs. Always shoot raw and raw conversion does seem to be really good.I still set the white balance off a grey card in the studio, of course. Have to say your openness is a tonic – you make photography exciting again in a world full of ‘teachers’ charging a fortune for pretty dubious info! Many thanks.

Dimi says:

Chase, awesome stuff!! Any chance you can list what you used for your lighting set-up? I know you mentioned the ProFoto packs and camera, but what type of softboxes, etc etc. Or anyone else that has an idea. Thanks so much

Anonymous says:

Very nice video!

What did you do in photoshop / aperture to make that nice look on your final pictures? The panorama was incredible!

Scott R. says:

@Mike: We do make a lot of adjustments in Aperture. We use if for everything from initial RAW adjustments, to final file prep, web galleries, books, etc. My computer has the ATI Radeon HD 2600 video card, and the program runs smoothly for the most part. Hope this helps.

Mike W. says:

Hey Scott — Do you guys make many adjustments in Aperture? I have the latest version, but it still chokes when I have several adjustments along with cropping or straightening. I’m thinking a better video card may be need, even though it’s a Mac Pro. What card do you guys use?

Scott R. says:

@Anon: I haven’t found a way to automatically adjust files coming into Aperture while tethered shooting. We generally use the Adjustments HUD to create a specialized look, and the Lift and Stamp tools in order to apply preset adjustments to images as soon as they are imported via the tether. This way, you can quickly drop prescribed adjustments on to any picture(s) you’d like to share with the client. Hope this helps.

Anonymous says:

When shooting tethered to Aperture, is there any way to automatically apply adjustments to the images as they come in?

Seems there are many instances where software is used to create specialized looks and it’s so much easier when they pop up on screen looking very close to the target in terms of color, saturation, curve, etc.. Sometimes it’s hard to explain to clients “Well it will look like *this* later. This initial image is just for checking focus, etc..”

Maybe I’ve just missed how to apply settings to incoming tethered images in Aperture, so if you could pass along any tips, that would be much appreciated! THANKS for such a well done, informative blog!!

John Latham says:

This is the knda thing I love to see.. the shots look amazing at the end bro ! J

Scott R. says:


Shooting tethered to Aperture on location is done with the laptop for the purpose of checking exposure, focus, and discussing/editing with the client. All of the final post production is done on a calibrated display at the studio, hotel, etc. We work with images in the Adobe RGB 1998 color space, this is the industry standard for wide gamut color.
When creating files for the web, generate new files from your originals and change the color space to sRGB. That way your original stays in the best color space, and you will be able to make nice prints. Check out the book “Real World Color Management” by Bruce Fraser for more color knowledge than you ever thought possible. Enjoy!

So what you actually doing when you shooting on a job is just checking the lightsetups and all the postproduction you do on a desktop computer with a calibrated screen. thats my prob at the moment that the colors just change in web and seeing it on camera and after print. I figured out that srgb is used in the internet so i safe my pictures ‘for web’ if i wanna upload them but the next step is that when i print out pictures it s all messed up again. when cahse is shooting with his nikon which color profile do u guys use?!? adobeRGB??? Or do you guys ahve any recommendation for a book i can get myself some more knowledge about that whole colorprofile thing! I wanna learn that… and know what I am doing when i play in the settings! And which screen calibrator would be the best?!?

thx alot for the fast reply

really appreciate


It’s not really so much that you can’t profile a mac book screen, it’s just that it’s not as effective as profiling a desktop screen. There are many things that effect the profile, temperature, refresh rate, etc. Those things change much more frequently on the laptop. That being said, I’d still profile it every once in a while, just to keep a slightly more accurate baseline.

Another question:

Someone told me i cannot really calibrate a macbookpro screen?!?! is that right or wrong?!?

Verde says:

Man. Awesome Chase. Thanks to this vid, I just started shooting tethered to Aperture. Waht a sweet way to roll!

Thanks for the tip – I owe you a(nother) beer!

Wonderful and very clear, now it’s time for that instructional or backstage DVD ?

Suzanne says:

THis was so great to see what goes into this kind of shoot! Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

Scott R. says:


Scott here. We carry a white balance card with us, but generally our policy is to shoot in RAW and work out the white balance in post production. In product photography where accurate color is the key, it’s all about using the WB card. In sports and lifestyle, there is more room to use white balance as a creative tool, warming and cooling for a desired aesthetic. You can almost always find a neutral point in an images to use the WB eye dropper tool as a starting point. The other key factor is making sure you work on color calibrated monitors so that the work you see on the screen is the same thing that your clients see on their end. Thanks for the inquiry!

Mark says:

New reader of your blog, I think I found you from a link of James Davidson’s post on perspectives and your great video on shooting on moving road bikes.

What a great educational post. Loved it. I don’t know if I’ll ever “land a gig”, but I do dream of being able to get paid someday for the things I love doing: shooting the outdoors in hard to get places. I like landscapes better than people, they don’t move and you don’t have to bring lights, just be in the right place at the right time (and that requires patience). :)

But I appreciated all the content in this. Thanks.


wazabees says:

Brilliant video! Just a quick question. How do you deal with white balance? ;)


Chase Jarvis says:

@ anon: can’t reveal the price due to contractual obligations and non-disclosure, however even then the variety in pricing for such a job, depending on talent, location, photographer, can literally be hundreds of thousands of dollars. A good rule of thumb is this: book a creative fee for you + the usage for every picture (where will be seen and by how many people), + all production expenses (models, asst, stylists, travel, etc.). All that is very standard.

Chase Jarvis says:

@ superduper: I think both Nikon and Canon are super solid…kind of like BMW vs Mercendes, however, honestly and frankly the D3 is a totally superior camera in my experience and the experience of my friends who shoot Canon (many of them pros who would be reluctant to make such a statement in public…) Truth is that the quality and size pixels and dynamic range (=image quality) of the D3 blow the Canon equivalent outta the water IMHO. Throw in the high ISO capabilities of the D3 (best on earth) and the fact that it doesn’t have back-focus issues (known to Canon) and it’s pretty much a no-brainer. –and keep in mind I usually steer miles away from this debate. I’m just laying it out there as I see it…

Anonymous says:

Hi Chase:

How much did you charge for this job? Or if you want to keep it secret, what should be the minimum cost for a gig like this, involving 3 models (2 female, 1 male), 2 different clothing for each, 1 set of golf apparel for each, and a total of about 25/30 pictures? I know it depends on a lot of things, but give us a hint on how to create a reasonable budget for something like this.

Thanks and keep up your fab work,

Bruno Pires (Portugal)

That was pretty much amazing. I want to watch it again and again to soak up all the information. Awesome. And the images at the end were a fantastic treat.

_Nathanael Gassett

Joe DuPont says:

You continue to amaze me with your generousity and spirit. Thanks for giving me an energy boost.

Anonymous says:

Nice work: Love the finished shot! Agree with Shane, Nat and Maddie: For those of us who are a bit Photoshop-challenged, it would be great to see an outline of the postprocessing steps that flashed by so tantalizingly in this video!

Teddy Tran says:

Always taking it a step further than everyone else again……I bow to you skills

Love the video, gives a great insight on how you work as a commercial photographer.

Chase- love your stuff, really inspiring. I am curious, I’m a Nikon guy but nowhere close to your league (yet;) I notice most of the guys “up there” are canon MKIII users…did you go with the D3 because of the sports aspect? Just wondering. Thanks for all the tech info, I can’t get enough of it.

Awesome good stuff!!!

Louie says:

Hello Chase, I’m new to your blog, I really enjoyed whatching your shoot! Very professional!


Jacob says:

Chase, I do believe my wife would kick my ass if she read this in my blog.. “photograph 3 hot young golf ladies of the LPGA.”

I can just imagine the conversation afterward…

Rob says:

Wish I’d a known back in April that you were going to post this… would have saved me a trip to Dubai.
Although I didn’t see any mention in the video of getting your ass out of bed at 5 AM.

Carson Blume says:

CHASE! Good stuff, its amazing that even with 3 years of school there was really nothing that simply informative. I think that should be your new blog name. Chase Jarvis: “Simply Informative”

Chase Jarvis says:

@ greg: indeed I talk with pro models differently than celebs, differently from “regular” people… but the goal is the same: get them to behave in the way that you want them to behave (be it relaxed, energized, happy, sad – whatever). The goal is to get something you’re after with the shot.

Teemu says:

Thanks again for great video!

Fantastic – I really enjoy your videos!

Adam says:

I’ll use this video as a class starter for my high school class this Fall, thanks. It’s cool for my kids to get an idea what a high-end photoshoot looks like, my experience in is smaller scale stuff. I especially liked the breakdown on lighting, Monday Night Football schematic style!

Danno~ says:

nice beer selection for the client, new belgium brand. i’m gonna guess it was a trippel or sunshine.


Greg says:

How do you ingage with regular people in shooting them?… do you talk to them in a certain way to steer there attitude for the shot

Do you use that technique to create a vignette in your pictures (I am thinking of the underground shot of the swimmer legs through a window) or is it a more natural occurrence? I am experimenting with Photoshop (as you suggested) and am realizing that I have much to learn.

Could you do a series of videos on your process of post production? I know each project is different but you seem to have a methodical way of doing things. Thought you might have one for post.

Do you use that technique to create a vignette in your pictures (I am thinking of the underground shot of the swimmer legs through a window) or is it a more natural occurrence? I am experimenting with Photoshop (as you suggested) and am realizing that I have much to learn.

Could you do a series of videos on your process of post production? I know each project is different but you seem to have a methodical way of doing things. Thought you might have one for post.

Chase Jarvis says:

@ joseph: couple thoughts on your vignette question. For one, long lenes (eg my 70-200 2.8 nikkor) gives me a vignette at higher focal lengths. For two – and more on target with your question: you can achieve the vignette with palette tools in Aperture and Lightroom. You can also achieve this look using a big ol fat brush and a mask in photoshop.

Joseph says:

I am curious how you get that slight vignette look to the images. You can see it quickly in the retouching part of the video, and was curious if that is done in post. I know some of it may be light drop off. I get it sometimes when shooting with a beauty dish. Great video by the way.

allan z. says:

Thank you! This is very helpful! but i know it’s not as easy as it looks! :)

Cody H. says:

@ Alex,

The nerd hoods… I mean monitor hoods :) can be purchased at That is where D and Scotty got theirs.


Alex G says:

kick ass! thank you!

Ben Young says:

Chase, another excellent blog post and video, keep them coming.

Trevin says:

Another great blog post! I particularly liked the combination of the short video coupled with tech specs within the blog post.

Chase Jarvis says:

@ sarah: everything seems up and running here for us and for a handful of friends I’ve checked with. Try refreshing your browser.

Chase Jarvis says:

jk: It’s not a database thing for us. We keep all the data raw in the OS and import images to Aperture to work on individual jobs.

Although both raw processing engines are solid, we dig Aperture’s. Plus there’s some whiz bang stuff Aperture’s got going on that we like.

Chase I love your videos.
This one is tops.
I can not get me Canon 1ds Mk3 to shoot directly to Aperture I am jealous.
I shoot alot of Catalog work & I have "Pimped" my Laptop case thanks to you!!!!!!!!!

Big Thanks
Shane O'Neill

Chase Jarvis says:

@ andy: shot with Nikkor 24-78mm 2.8. There’s a link in the body of the post.

Anonymous says:

you make it look so easy.

a small tech thing; you’re editing on apple lcd’s, did you home-build the light hoods for those, or does someone sell ‘em?


thorrad says:

So, every time my friend Lou sends me to the site to look at your latest Video I end up asking “Why am I not doing that?” I am always truly inspired and grateful for your willingness to give all of us this level of info. Fantastic. I look forward to finding out more each time and to eventually meeting you in person.


Nice vid! These are getting tighter and tighter. Props to Cody for some great work. Keep ‘em coming!

PS: Was that Possum Hunt you polished off in the napkin scene? I need to get me some o’ that stuff…


Tim says:

Chase, you are pure marketing genius!

Everyone, look and see what he accomplishes with videos like this.

1. Gives back to the community in an educational how-do-they-do-it video. This is where I fit in. (never going to be pro, but often wonder what's involved and I will make purchases due to Chase's equipment choices. Chase, this should score you some free gear from the manufacturers, you are in essence advertising for them… Um.. let's see ProPhoto, Nikon, Chimera, Pocket Wizards. B&H; here I come )

2. Shows current and future clients that he knows his stuff and can execute on an assignment.
Professionalism and Execution are key.

3. Shows off his amazing high quality work. drool.

4. Keeps his name circulating in the latest and greatest world of new media. Makes the Chase Jarvis brand more valuable.

Thanks again for sharing. It sure looks like you're all having a blast doing this creative work.

Oh, by the way, even though I subscribe to your RSS feed, my Strobist feed is listed first and that's what brought me here.


Sarah Rhoads says:

Chase, it may just be me but on both my computers it is now saying “we’re sorry but this video is no longer available” This makes my heart sad :(. I’ll try it again later though and maybe it will be working. Thanks for all the goodness you bring to this world.

Martin Wolf says:

Thanks a lot for another videos, Chase. I’m always amazed about your work. Keep up the great work and videos. :)

JK in NYC says:

Cheers to another great vid Chase –

I’m curious about your use of Aperture and Photoshop together. It sounds like Aperture does your raw conversion (via tether) and you export a tiff to Photoshop for your composite.

So: Do you believe the Aperture raw conversion is as good (or better?) than Camera Raw/Lightroom? Or is it a convenience thing for your database?

20 says:

“And the ‘All Around Great Guy’ award …better than any other industry award.. goes to : Chase Jarvis ” !

Once again thanks for ‘giving back’ in this way Chase. You are leading the charge of a small anb rare breed of Pro Photog.


Andy says:

what lens did you shoot that with?

Csanadim says:

Amazing video! I love your photos, and your blog, I learn a lot! Really! Thx

SalsaFresca says:

Yessssss! So glad to see another awesome vid! Thank you Chase.

I was actually one of the people who emailed you about this. Thanks you so much for listening to my request.

PS, I love the final shots and the high speed golf cart stuff!

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