Lessons from a BTS (Behind-the-Scenes) Expert

Written by Chloe Gaget, Photographer

New York City, NY

My name is Chloe Gaget, I am a beauty, fashion, and portrait Photographer based in New York City. When my passion for photography became my full time career, I needed something on my days “off” to keep that creative muscle pumping!

I started shooting BTS at a pretty cut and dry level; graduation and school performances. Not thinking it would really go anywhere. As I became more comfortable, I began shooting concerts, music videos, and now I am on different photo and video sets shooting BTS all the time-and it’s fun!

BTS can be used for a multitude of purposes. Behind the scenes content is primarily used for personal client use or promotions for whatever the project is. Making a photo or video set look engaging to a viewer and capturing what is really going on during a shoot or on set is how we as creators make your favorite photos, tv shows, movies, and music videos come to life as you see them. The show, movie, music video etc is a fantasy world, the BTS photos or videos captured while on set are the reality of that fantasy which is being created.

When you’re working on a serious-high stakes project and something absolutely ridiculous happens “behind the scenes” it’s great to have a BTS photographer or videographer capturing it all go down. When you’re working on sets, it’s important to have a strong working relationship with the people you’re spending 8+ hours a day with. Being able to capture the moments throughout a project is what makes shooting BTS fun for me. Being able to capture moments on set where the photographer or cinematographer is in a crazy gravity defying position to get “the shot” or just shooting the process of a set being built or broken down show’s how much work goes into making the magic that happens on set everyday all around the world.

Here are my go to’s when it comes to shooting BTS. Look at the light, where is it coming from? Pay attention to where the Director or Photographer is shooting from. I love shooting from extreme angles whether it’s super low on the ground, like an ant, or super high angling my shot down as if I’m a bird flying above. I love getting detail shots. Seeing the texture of the Director’s hand as they hit the record button or the model as they move their hair behind their ear, or the dust coming off of a light. It all adds an up-close and personal, creative feeling to your shot.

I am the kind of person who over shoots. I always cover the whole set and get as detailed as possible to ensure I got everything I want. I always speak with the client ahead of time to see what they have in mind in terms of shots or angles they want to see in the end and focus on those first. The number one mistake a creator can make is to not ask questions. I have put together a mini guide to success of questions to ask and tips to getting comfortable with shooting BTS.

Questions to ask yourself when preparing for a shoot or before talking with a client:

  1. What is the set I will be on?
  2. Where am I shooting?
  3. What kind of camera(s) do I need?
  4. What kind of lenses will I need?
  5. Do I want to shoot on Film? Digital? Video?
  6. Will I need a flash or additional lights?

Tips for Success:

  • Introduce yourself! Make it known that you are there to shoot BTS and just make sure that it is okay with everyone that you are photographing if they are being photographed.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions, you are there to create something that will spark a memory for anyone who was a part of the set so don’t be afraid to ask for what you want in terms of creating a shot!
  • Always always always bring extra batteries and memory cards.
  • Talk to everyone you can when you get breaks! No matter how stressful a shoot can be, being on set is a great opportunity to make connections, who knows you might meet your new best friend or make an important business connection!
  • Overshooting is okay. I think that it is ALWAYS better to shoot too much than not enough.
  • Have fun with it. Getting creative with BTS photography is a skill that I have gained overtime and am still getting comfortable doing. I enjoy shooting behind the scenes and when I look back on these photographs, it reminds me of some of the best memories I’ve made on set.
  • If you have experience on sets and you see someone needs a hand, don’t be afraid to step in. I’m a firm believer that if you’re on set, you’re a necessity and should be helpful to anyone and everyone, even if it’s not your designated job for the day.

I personally shoot with my Canon 5d Mark IV and my go to lens is a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. I chose this lens over other lenses because the f-stop goes so low that I can create a really nice shallow depth of field in my shot if I want to.

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Chloe is a Professional Photographer based out of New York City. She specializes in portrait photography with a focus on Beauty and Weddings. Chloe graduated from the New York Film Academy and has since worked with companies like Profoto, MAC Cosmetics, Clinique, Essie, Nike, Guinness Beer, Adorama, B&H, MAC Group and more. Her recent projects include photographing Meeko Gattuso (Euphoria), The Falls (Upcycled Vintage Clothing), and has shot multiple album covers and promotional art for musician, Maddy Seitles.

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