How To Plan A Successful Photoshoot

We recently had an AMAZING photoshoot and got tons of new images for the site, social media, and for so many other purposes. With so many new content creators, how do you plan a successful photoshoot for your small business or your content creation? Especially if you've never done one before? Keep reading.


In a digital age, photoshoots aren't just for businesses anymore. Regular people are planning photoshoots for graduation pictures, birth announcements, content creation for social media (super important if you plan on having a personal brand or business in the future, you can begin to lay the groundwork now), and so many other purposes. Let's look at some of the fundamentals that go into a successful shoot.



Jessy Peralta (@jessyperalta_). Photo by Johnny Vasquez (@whowas.johnny)


Planning


The first step of any great photoshoot is planning it. Where will it be? Who will take the pictures? Is it just one person or multiple? Is there a theme? What time of day will it occur? What will the person/people wear? Knowing answers to these basic questions will help to set the groundwork for a smooth shoot and allow you to direct the logistics of the shoot more easily the day of.


When I'm planning a shoot I typically begin to search ideas on Pinterest for a theme or feel of the shoot. I also use this theme to help me come up with an idea for the location. Figuring the location out early on is helpful, because some locations require payment to access them. Even if it's a public location, there will be times of day that will be optimal for shooting.


If shooting in a public space, visit the venue the same day of the week and the same time that you'd like to shoot. Is it crowded? Is it easily accessible? Are there areas to change if your shot requires more than one look? Is the location ideal for photography/videography? Make note of all of this and really do your research; take pictures and notes to keep a visual reminder of what you'll be getting. If you'll be working with a photographer/videographer ask them for their thoughts or bring them with you. Their input is critical when it comes to venue because they will be shooting in the space and often have thoughts that you don't even know to think of. If your photographer doesn't recommend the space, it's probably a good idea to listen to them and move on from it. That said, many photographers are familiar with places to shoot and may be able to offer up an alternative.


Team


The more involved your shoot will be, the more help you'll need. Who is going to help you? It is possible to do it all yourself, especially if you are the person being photographed, but even if it's a one woman show, you'll still need some planning to execute a great shoot.


If your shoot is more involved, you'll definitely need a bit of help. That could be anything from a stylist, to hair & makeup, an event coordinator to run the show the day of so you can focus on other aspects of the shoot, a photographer, models-at a minimum.


At my last shoot I had: 2 photographers, 3 models, 21 looks, one event coordinator, and myself. We shot thousands of images in 4 hours. Because of how many looks there were, there was no way to shoot this by myself. I needed help. At this stage, I knew everyone and had worked with them before. Calling in the help of people you know is really helpful because you know the quality of their work, their professionalism and it makes for a fun day of shooting.


If you have to build a brand new team, head to places like Craigslist and look under gigs/creative/or services, you may be able to find models there. When I did my first shoot, I put an ad in Craigslist for models and got so many headshots from people that were very qualified for the gig I was producing.


Looking for a photog may be a bit different. You really want someone that understands the vision of what you're trying to create. If you don't have any one in your network, ask your friends if they know someone. Literally every photog I've ever worked with is a friend of a friend and has created beautiful, long lasting quality content. Be open to trying out people new to photography too. It's been my experience that they've always done great work because they're eager to start building a beautiful portfolio for their own purposes.


Once your team, venue and theme are all selected, get their email address and IG handle and introduce them all in 1 comprehensive email. Introduce them to each other via email and share the details of the shoot: call time, date, day, date, location, theme, who the members of the team are and what their roles are, along with their IG handles.


When I send out this communication I also include NDA's (non-disclosure agreements) and media consent forms. If you are a business or creating this footage for biz purposes, I highly recommend doing the same. Advise your team what the pictures will be used for, who can use them, what your position is on sharing the images and if they can edit them or not. Additionally, you'll want to make sure that the entire team properly credits everyone involved when sharing the images for their own needs.



The crew of my last photoshoot.


Mood Boards


Along with all of the previous details to include to your team, you'll want to include a mood board. My event coordinator listens to what I want, then creates fabulous Pinterest boards, then shares them to the team. We use them on set the day of the shoot and show the models and the photogs the types of images we


want, the mood we're going for. We even use them to give some direction on styling for certain things like my vintage denim.



A mood board is a visual collection of images that inspire the project for the "mood" you're going for. Many industries use them, although they may call them something else. It's a way to communicate what you're looking for visually. Photographers love them because it helps them to understand what a successful picture looks like for you, rather than having to guess and create images that you may not love.


Mood boards are also great because the team can contribute to them collaboratively, and each share their thoughts and opinions; depending on the structure of your process. When your mood board is digital, it's also easy to add images and make edits to the mood board up to the day of the shoot.


Wardrobe


Once you know your theme and where you'll be shooting, picking out what you or your models are going to wear is going to be so

actual screenshot of my mood board


much easier, because you have a direction for your wardrobe.


NIC TIP: If you have wardrobe changes for your shoot, make sure you have answered where people will change on set the day of. Lack of changing facilities can really put a wrinkle in your perfect shoot. If you're doing a location shoot, but there are no adequate changing rooms, you can buy changing tents or even change in the car. The changing tent is much more ideal, but a car will do in a pinch....trust me. You can even get creative and wear layers of clothing and just peel them away, taking away the need for a changing room or hold up blankets or towels and get changed behind that. You do however want to always consider the comfort of your team, and provide the best options for what you are capable of executing within your budget.


If you won't have access to an electrical outlet, then steam everything before you go and place the garments in a garment bag to reduce post steaming wrinkling. If an electrical outlet is available the day of the shoot, then bring your steamer and steam on set, allowing yourself enough time to do so.


Place all of your looks out with shoes and accessories in the order they will be shot. If you're not around for whatever reason, it'll be clear what look is next. Once you've completed shooting a look, then be sure to put it back in the garment bag/suitcase right away, so that you keep track of your pieces but also so you know what's left to shoot. When shooting with a lot of clothes, it can get really confusing very quickly, if proper clothes management isn't happening.


Styling Kit


When I go on set, I have a styling kit. It's literally an orange and black tool box that I got at Home Depot years ago. I put EVERYTHING I could ever need for when things go wrong in it. This way, when I'm on set and someone needs something, I have it.


My kit includes things like: tampons, panty liners, lotion, deodorant, phone chargers, chap stick, binder clips (for when clothes are too big and I have to pull them bag for a smooth shot), Tide sticks, double sided tape, needle and thread, gum, hair pins, lipstick, quarters for vending machines, lint brushes you name it! To date, I have never needed anything when I've been on one of my sets-mostly because I'm prepared.


NIC TIP: keep your kit packed, so when you need it you don't have to stock it. When an item is used out of your kit, quickly replace it so you always have it ready.


Electronics, Cameras, Music


If you have an extra camera bring it! You can never have too many cameras on set. Make sure to charge all camera batteries so you don't have to waste valuable time on set doing this. Be sure to pack extra SD cards too so that if one gets full, which it probably will, you have at least 2 more at the ready.


Bring your laptop too and if you're really prepared a tethering cord so you can see the shots in real time. You'll know right away if the look is working and if its not what to change to maximize your chances of getting tons of quality shots.


NIC TIP: Have your cell phone prepared with plenty of storage space and battery as well because BTS (behind the scene) shots are really great and you can get such great content from them!


Have music prepared and ask your crew what kind of music they like and play it! There's nothing like music to relax the mood on set and get everyone in a happy, creative mood.


Snacks


People get hungry. That's a fact of life. There's nothing like an 8 hour shoot to bring that out more. Have snacks for your crew. Since I'm a swimwear designer and mostly shoot vacation type of clothing, my models don't eat a ton on set because they don't want to be bloated, but I still bring food and snacks for them. I usually bring things like: apples, bananas, almonds, popcorn, tons of bottles of water. Sometimes I bring doughnuts, but no one eats them so I stopped that. If it's morning, you can bring coffee or do a coffee run to help keep everyone awake. If your shoot is long, order pizza or buy real food so that no one is starving. Starving people leave set, and when they leave it can cause delays or postpone the remainder of the shoot if something happens while you break. Feed your crew!


Pay


There's this weird thing in the fashion world where because no one is making money in the beginning, no one pays for things many times. It's called TFP or TFC. Trade for Profit or Trade for Credit. It works and I have participated in it before. But at some point you need to pay your crew. If you can't pay them, then give them clothes or whatever it is you make. But take care of them. People have live and working for free with tons of demands on these projects is the quickest way to get someone not to want to work with you again.


Also, when paying your crew, you get better work and people take it more seriously because they treat it seriously.


Doing a photoshoot, especially your first one can be really intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Follow these tips and add what works for you and you'll have great shoots time and time again. Comment below what tips help you on your photoshoot.

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