Their are many fields of photography that will require more than just you the photographer to achieve a certain shot, even if its just one assistant to bounce some light around with a reflector. With fashion some photos may even require 10 or more people to be involved, hair stylists, clothes stylists, prop makers, make-up, art directors, models, clients, all of these may also have assistants as well and thus the list goes on. Some of the most seemingly simple shots will often have scores of people peering over the photographers shoulder all giving their input. So who is in charge of all these creative minds all eager to make their mark, unfortunately their is no one hard and fast answer. It varies from job to job, as a guide though if there is an art director present they will be the one who usually has the final word, but even they can be swayed, they are creatives at the of the day and even they are susceptible to a certain amount of creative inspiration from the photographer. Sometimes though the client will be there overseeing how their money is being used, occasionally they will sit back and take solace in the fact that they have chosen the right art director, photographer etc for the job, safe in the knowledge that the people around them know their specialties and jobs better than anyone. The reality all to often unfortunately is that they rarely have the ability to visualise the final product or image through the preceding working process, and regularly fall foul to taking control. One point to remember here is that they are generally a person who is used to being in charge of their own professional field or company, that is why it comes naturally for them to try and take control if you let them.
In my experience with fashion, hair and editorial shots the process is usually very organic, by that I mean their are many variables involved that cannot be controlled nor should they, you are trying to create something new after all. As photographers we should be able to adapt to any given situation and overcome them, occasionally this may create something great you couldn't of anticipated prior to shooting. This rule applies to all members of the team as well, perhaps the models hair doesn't have the right volume for a particular cut, maybe the clothes aren't quite fitting the model, perhaps the models complexion is playing havoc for the make-up artist, even the weather on your location shoot could be throwing your exposure readings off. This list can go on and all these potential problems threaten to disrupt or even ruin the shot, it is only through having an amazing team of people who know their specific jobs inside out that this can be avoided.
So how do you get this amazing team of creatives? Some photographers will only work with a specific team that they know and trust. This has its advantages of course, you know what you will get and you can rely on them to provide it without the hassle of having to chase them or worry about personalities clashing. Sometimes you wont get a choice, the art director may already have a well oiled team of people in place and photographers get brought in and out as styles change. This can be tricky for a photographer to manage as you are the new guy trying to create something new and creative with a close and comfortable team without treading on too many toes. The other option, and perhaps the one that I feel most beneficial for all involved is to take it on a job by job basis. Just as you would never ask an architectural photographer to do a fashion shoot, you would never ask a wedding make-up artist to do make-up for a fashion shoot or a hair stylist who specialises in hair-up styling to do session styling. All of these people know their field in broad terms, I could take an 'alright' picture of some architecture because I have a broad understanding of my subject but a dedicated architectural photographer will take a comparatively 'outstanding' picture. The same applies across all disciplines and should be considered on a case by case basis.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to choose your team prior to shooting their are a few key points that I would recommend bearing in mind, and if you don't get to choose them at the very least you should take the opportunity to meet with them before hand. Ideally though you will be an integral part of the creative process from the very beginning. Normally I pitch a concept or specific lighting style to a client and already know that a specific models bone structure will work better with the light than others for that particular shot. For example will I be using hard or soft lighting and by being involved from the start I can be at the model castings and be able to visualise how the final shot will look and who is best suited to sell that look. On shoot day I normally work closely with another photographer called Wayne Kahn, he has a different perspective to myself and he will often see things that perhaps in the energy of shooting you would normally overlook, this can sometimes be the key to capturing those rare shots that you hadn't previously perceived. Depending on what your shooting you may need a clothing stylist, some photographers like a stylist to just turn up with the clothes and then just go and sit quietly and not interfere with the shoot, personally I like them to get involved. Polly Errington is a great fashion stylist I have had the pleasure of working with on many shoots, she is never afraid to jump in to tweak and pull the clothes, sometimes because its just not clear how certain outfits are supposed to be worn. Make-up, as I mentioned earlier is another key component, make-up that is applied at weddings for other people to see is very different to make-up that is applied for the camera to see, getting this wrong can mean the difference in you spending days retouching images or hours. Hair as well is a personal skill, a hair stylist who has any experience will have a book of photos they can show or email you, getting a look at these before hand will give you a clear idea of what they can do. Asking them how long some of styles took to achieve is a good question to ask, knowing that a particular look will take them three hours to achieve will definitely make or break the shoot.
When Shooting starts, all of these people will want to have an input, not just because its a chance to make their mark but because their name will be attached to the final photographs. At some point though you will have to say now is the time for you to start taking pictures. With a lot of people behind you shouting in your ear, it can occasionally be difficult to please everybody all of the time and sometimes this should just be seen as part of the process of creating something with other passionate people. A word of warning however, the one person in my opinion as photographers we should never annoy is the model. They are the only person actually in the shot and essentially are actors and actresses, if they are upset or angry for any reason this will show in the final images and can have an overwhelming impact on how the shoot turns out. No matter how amazing the lighting, styling, hair or make-up is, the viewer of any photograph will always be overridden by the human element of the image.
With all these elements in play producing a series of unique photographs at the end can be an incredibly rewarding experience for the whole team, but one final word of caution, if for any reason the photographs turn out badly their is only ever one person that gets blamed, the photographer.