How to create a successful photoshoot

the key(s) to a successful photoshoot

Photoshoots can be nerve racking if you don’t do your homework right, it’s not as easy as grabbing your lights and heading out into the unknown and doing so can erode your reputation quickly if it all goes belly up.

You could put the project at risk if your model or subject gets bored, the location sucks or worse still you have no targets to hit. The resulting shots will be crummy at best and most importantly you would have wasted a bunch of time, yours, your model and anyone working with you (who WILL be rolling their eyes behind your back).

So how can you be prepared for a commercial photoshoot, maybe for the first time on a commercial project ? Here are 5 things you can do to help the control freak you didn’t know you are (yet).

photoshoot guide

This step is overlooked way too often, why analyze your project or job to death before you even start putting together a production ? Many reasons, but the most important one is making sure you know the scope of what your doing. Is there a color scheme at hand which will effect the type of model you will be working with, the background, location, time of day.

If this information isn’t being communicated with you (and no creative licence has been awarded) then find out before you go any further.

Without it you could be supplying a range of styles and images that are worthless to your client.

Research everything about your shoot, if you have been given a model take a look at her “range” or her style of posing. Many models love to be pushed into new territory and some don’t so try and work out which type you’re working with, of course take them for a coffee and find out what they are about too.

Locations need extra attention, scouting places can be fun but super time consuming. You may need to visit the same spot at various times of the day to check from traffic (cars and people) lighting under certain weather conditions and more. I believe this to be a crucial step for a successful shoot.

Know your props too, work out what you are working with and think about how to pose the model with your prop, whatever that maybe.

Work out exactly what you can achieve with the time you have, be realistic here. You can only work at the pace you’re comfortable with so setting expectations with your client and yourself are key.

Once you have done that build a shot list and workout how long that will take. I know I can do 3-5 looks in the space of an hour for example, so I know I’m not the most prolific shooter out there but I will fuss over the details. That’s just me.

Once you have the shot list nailed down, do not shift from it’s focus… ever. Using that list on a hot set will keep you focused and on time. Plus you can discuss this with your client and model before the shoot, setting their expectations.

You’re clear on whats expected of you, your client is clear on what you are going to deliver, your model or subject is ready too. Once thing left to do, check your kit.

Make sure everything is powered on and checked the night before, batteries charged and lenses cleaned. If you are shooting on the road then make sure all your triggers have space batteries as well as spare bulb in case any of your strobes decide to pop. Take all your reflectors out ensure they are in good working order. Book a backup assistant just in case your main one decides to call in sick. 

A simple task but important to wake up the next morning with peace of mind. Removes any stress so you can enjoy your morning coffee.

The big day is here, you have done all your thinking before hand so it’s time to enjoy the shoot but one last thing can help the day go smoothly.

Get there early. Sounds daft but placing yourself at where you need to be to unload, get your grip sorted means you can kick back and relax while the others turn up. Yeah sure you might be on set longer than you were expecting but it’s a great way to start with a clear head.

Take some donuts for everyone too, you will be their hero. 


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