Plan your first photo shoot

Establishing a photo shoot the right way is very important, because it sets the right expectations and your customer will be happy. It’s imperative to create a great mood for the entire process, but at the same time you want to maintain a sense of professionalism. When you prepare your first photo shoot, there will be a lot of emotions that might stand in the way of your craft. But you need to be dedicated and committed to delivering the right value, and you will find yourself incredibly happy with the results.

Start with a concept

Just like every plan starts with a dream and creativity, the same thing applies here. You need to figure out the main idea behind your photo shoot. You want to come up with something creative that really sets you aside from anyone else. Creating the right photo session as a beginner will take a bit of trial and error. But ideally you want a concept that helps guide you through the entire process.

When you think about the concept, you also have to keep in mind the location in question. Do you need a certain location to fulfill your vision? Or will any location be more than ok? All those little things matter and they will end up making quite the difference in the long haul. Just make sure that you come up with an idea that you are proud of. Once you finish that, then you just have to expand from there.

Think about the location

As we mentioned earlier, some concepts will end up being location-dependent. The idea here is to make sure that the story concept and location fit like a glove. If you need to travel towards that location, you need to figure out how much it will cost and if it will be included in the photo shoot budget. On top of that, some locations might require you to pay just to take pictures there. Sure, these seem more like backend things for a lot of people, but you have to assess them accordingly and see what really matters for the best results. It will certainly lead to a very good experience.

You want to know if the location has natural light or if you need to bring a lighting system with you. Understanding these things might not seem like a lot, but it helps quite a bit. Normally you need a good lighting system anyway, as it will help make the process simpler and without that much of a challenge. Do make sure that you have a permit if the location requires it, and also check the weather info if you plan on shooting inside.

This brings in another factor, is the photo shoot taking place outside or inside? If it’s inside, then you have to bring in decorations and all kinds of items that might be required during the process. It can be a bit of a struggle for a newcomer, but it will certainly help in the long term.

Create an inspiration board

I believe this is a very good idea because it allows the client to figure out exactly what he needs after seeing specific pictures. In the world of photography you will always find people with different tastes. As a good photographer you want to help people achieve what they have in mind. It helps a lot to create an inspiration board and come up with ways to make the process as rewarding as possible.

You can use platforms like Pinterest for stuff like this just because they are very impressive and they help get the job done a whole lot better. The great thing about inspiration boards is that they initiate a discussion, you can start clarifying things about the concept and you can adjust based on the client requirements. It’s important to assess and understand the client expectations so you can offer the best value and quality.

Select the right equipment for the photoshoot that you have in mind

What you need to keep in mind is that not every camera will suit every photo shoot. On top of that, you need a variety of accessories based on the type of photo shoot you want to take at this time. Having all this information will help make the process simpler and more convenient in the long run.

If you want portrait photography, which is what we want to focus on here, then you will need to focus on the model’s face. It’s important to have a very good camera that can capture all the facial expressions. DSLR cameras are very good, although it makes sense to pair them with some very good lenses too.

Adequate lighting is just as important, because you can help direct light to the model’s face or body in order to look better. It will require a bit of trial and error but it will certainly work the way you expect, and that’s what matters the most here.

In case you need extra gear that you don’t plan on using every day, there’s the option to rent it. This will cost you way less and in the end it will offer a much better value than what you imagine. Of course, it’s crucial to have the right equipment yourself, but in case you miss it, then it makes sense to opt for rentals. It will just make things a whole lot easier every time.

Do you need a certain theme?

Sometimes when you have a photo shoot, opting for a theme can be a very good idea. This is obviously the type of thing that the customer will choose. It makes sense to try and ensure that you have all you need for the entire process. The better prepared you are, the better the results you can get and that’s the thing that really matters the most. Focus on results and the best experience, deliver a tremendous quality and the payoff alone can be great in the long run.

Selecting the right models

Picking the best model will make or break your photo shoot. It’s very important to know the type of model you want and what results you expect from them. Do they need to be dressed in a certain way, will you provide the clothing or not? All these things are important when it comes to planning the photo shoot, and it will show just how committed you are to the process and what results you expect from something like this.

  • Where can you find the right model? Normally you can go and browse a model database, more specifically a local one. You can also place ads online that you need models for a photo shoot. The idea is to try and connect with as many models in the area as possible.
  • When you search for models, it’s important to say the type of models you want. Do you need models specialized in a certain field, do you want a certain age or anything like that? The more information you have, the easier it will be to fulfill your ideas and that’s exactly what makes the process so good and convenient to begin with.
  • Social media, more specifically Instagram and Facebook are great places for finding models. Many of them have an account there, and it makes sense to browse these websites so you can find the best possible model to suit your needs.
  • It’s important to decide from the start if you want a very specific look. This will help narrow down the process and ensure that you are indeed offering the best possible results and experience. Once you do that, you will find that the process is a lot more seamless and convenient than ever before.
  • After you narrow down a certain number of models, you may want to check their work history. It helps because you get to see whether they fit the type of photo shoot you want. Plus, some of them might be very famous online or in their local area, which is a bonus. Checking their portfolio will offer a very good idea of what you can expect and the results as a whole can be pretty incredible.
  • You need to make sure that every detail regarding the photo shoot is handled beforehand to prevent any issues.
  • Ideally you want a model that knows how to take directions and which communicates very well. If there’s a language barrier or you don’t really seem to communicate with that person very well, then you need to find someone else.

Preparing your model/s for the photo shoot

Now that you have a model for your photo shoot, then you need to prepare them accordingly. Bringing in a hair and makeup team is mandatory, because you want your models to look extraordinary. Yes, this is an additional expense, but one that’s pretty much pivotal for the entire process. Try to take all these little things into consideration and assess cost, since they are incredibly important.

There’s also the option to hire a stylist if you want. Such an option is all up to you, depending on the scope of your photo shoot. While it might not be mandatory for beginners, it’s definitely something you need to take into account especially as you create better and bigger photo shoots. It’s a wonderful idea to take into account especially if you want the photo shoot to be different and an exciting premise.

Things to do before the photo shoot day

It’s important to know the equipment list and ensure that you have it all good to go the day of the shoot. The last thing you want is to deal with any unforeseen problems, so try to take that into account as much as possible to prevent any issues. Cleaning up the equipment and making sure that it’s in pristine condition is a very good idea. I also recommend you to double-check the camera settings, you don’t want to do that on-site, preparing it beforehand will help improve the photo shoot flow and it will help things get done a lot faster and with more convenience for everyone.

During the day of the shoot, your primary focus has to be on making sure that the equipment is set up properly. On top of that, you want to do multiple tests to ensure that the images are exactly the way you want them to be. I would recommend testing your lighting because it can be very important throughout the entire photo shoot. Arriving an hour or a bit earlier than that will help you set things up so the models won’t have to wait for anything. Once you do that, the entire process will be a lot easier and simpler than you might imagine.

Lastly, become comfortable with the models and let them know what you need

Ideally you also want to talk with the models and obtain their approval based on a variety of things that they might need. Learning how to interpret the body language is very important, so tell the model what type of body language you want, share the process with them. The more communication you have with the models, the better the end result will be. At the end of the day, this is a team effort!


It’s very important to prepare your photo shoot adequately if you want it to be a success. It might take some trial and error to bring those results you expect, but that’s what happens when you are a newcomer in such a field. You need patience and commitment, and if you have all of that then the payoff can be incredible.

Yes, photo shoots are very demanding and they need tons of planning, but they are also fun and you will find them a pleasure to go through. It might take a little bit to get used to some things, but it will certainly be enjoyable to create a good photo shoot. Find the right models, prepare your equipment and select a stunning location, then follow all the other tips listed above and you will have an incredible photo shoot!