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Virtual Photoshoots: Photography in the New Normal

Updated: Apr 22, 2021

Ever since COVID-19 hit, long distance relationships have never felt so difficultespecially with quarantine and social distancing meaning most are stuck at home. Getting that new Instagram banger or LinkedIn profile picture has gone on the back burner as people grow more comfortable not doing anything, from lounging around between eating 12 hours a day to sleeping the rest. We’re all guilty of it.

Are you feeling sick of being cooped up or want a reason to get dressed up, but don’t feel like getting out of the house? Easy.

The answer: virtual photoshoots.

WHAT IS A VIRTUAL PHOTOSHOOT? With so many university students deciding on virtual lectures, or restrictions making it difficult to see each other in person whenever you need, sometimes you need to think digital. Literally. A virtual photoshoot is exactly as it means: it’s where you use a communication medium as a way to get photographs, all virtually! To put it simply, say we use something like FaceTime, a visual communication app used by Apple products. The photographer, say with an iPhone, would FaceTime their client, who would also have an Apple product (like an iPad), and through their call, the photographer can direct and ask the client to pose for the camera through the FaceTime medium.

(Those without Apple, can use alternatives like Zoom, following the same directions).

The client would essentially be using the camera as if it is a self-timer or selfie, but would have the professional eye of the photographer to help direct and suggest lighting and set changes for the client. It can be a great way to keep building content despite distance measures, and help you stay active in the photography scene!

WHY DO A VIRTUAL SHOOT? Like many digital mediums, photography thrives off its greatest advantage; adaptability. Sure, you can’t exactly go out with all thirty of your friends to a new formal or pose next to some art you don’t know right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative.

Another thing; it’s super easy and practically anyone can do it! In the new photojournalism scene, many photographers and models are implementing Zoom and FaceTime technology as an alternative to physically being on location. Using a laptop, camera, and a strong WiFi connection, some of the results from these shoots surpass anything you might imaginewhile also fitting pandemic guidelines. Now that social distancing may be a thing for the next couple years, these shoots also help create more jobs and opportunities, especially for small businesses, models, and influencers. Virtual shoots ensure great work for building social media portfolios, while also showing recent content that documents your experience. Growth from adapting and trying new things is always a key benefit, and keeps you ahead in the competitive field.


Interested in how to get it working? Got that covered. Growing photographer, Jazel Dela Paz (@imagine.jpg) shares her immersive experience with virtual photography and some of her favourite photos exclusively with the OPENWIDE team.

Jazel, 18, has been doing photography for almost ten years, and three years ago, started taking it to a professional level. She's constantly looking for ways to grow her platform, especially on Instagram. Influencers online grow a stronger clientele base on social media, so when COVID-19 hit and many of her appointments fell through, she needed to think of a more creative way to keep feeding her online presence.

It wasn’t until May 2020 when an opportunity for a virtual photoshoot crossed her mind, thanks to her friend, Lavanya Vallipuram, 19, who needed some help with her model portfolio.

Lavanya Vallipuram, an old friend of Jazel’s from elementary school, at the time had entered a Maxim Covergirl modelling application (and succeeded in the first round!). For the second round, where people were suggested to browse through each respective models’ online images, Lavanya felt her portfolio was lacking.

Around this time, she’d seen a few articles on virtual photoshoots around Twitter, and contacted Jazel immediately.

Both have agreed to share their experience and some helpful tips to those who are thinking of using this medium as a new alternative.


PHOTOGRAPHER: Jazel has always loved how versatile the photography field has become. She also notes that you are always growing as a photographer, so take your time to perfect your art. Below are some tips she has for those who wish to take on virtual photography:

Jazel’s Photography Tips 1. Get to know your client/model first! Set expectations in your initial meeting so you both know what to expect.

2. Work on your directing! It’s really difficult getting the shots you may want, especially if you’re usually reliant on making changes to the equipment yourself.

3. Go on Instagram and check out the #facetimephotoshoots for good references and tips from the photography community.

4. You will be limited in your angles, sets, and movement. Your model will need to be in charge of this while you direct, so learn to compromise.

5. Don’t use it as a substitute for professional work! While a great alternative for temporary content, virtual photography can be pixelated and low quality in comparison to your actual camera.

6. Unless someone has experience with photography, rely more on the model than having someone else to take photos.

7. I used an iPhone Xr and an iPad Pro, but use whatever you own and have fun. Work on getting practice, experience, and your communication as a photographer from the shoot.

CLIENT: Lavanya wants to be a role model; the person she wanted most at one point in her life and to be that for others. Her determination to build her portfolio stems from the need to grow her platform, and she finds social media, with the aid of photography, as a great foundation. Here are her tips for those who are on the modelling spectrum.

Lavanya’s modelling tips:

1. Look at reference photos before going into the shoot!

2. Directions can get complicatedas a model, pretend the camera is a self-timer or approach it like a selfie for more comfort.

3. If you don’t have professional equipment to prop your phone up, use random household products. Bedsheets for sets, books as tripods, whatever you think could help.

4. Do prep work. Looking into potential backdrops, poses, or creating a reference list of pictures you wish to recreate ensure successful results.

5. Communication is key. If you feel uncomfortable or want to do something different from your photographer, talk it out. Since you don’t have the privilege of having them be physically there, you’re responsible for your own flexibility.

6. Sometimes it’s better to take control of the phone yourself instead of relying on someone else in the room. It can be difficult for the photographer to have someone else use the electronic device the same way, and they will feel more comfortable with you, the model, doing it yourself.

7. Have fun! Being fluid and playing around with the camera will make your photos reach their full potential. If anything, use it as a reason to feel less than a couch potato.

Mentioned in this article: Jazel Dela Paz - Instagram: @imagine.jpg / Email:

Lavanya Vallipuram - Instagram: @lavanya_valli

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