7 Tips on How to Plan a Productive Photoshoot

a photographer desk with title 7 tips to plan a productive photoshoot

When you become a professional photographer and schedule your day with photoshoots, you’ll realize quickly enough that having a plan in mind will keep you productive. Having a plan in place as you go into each day will keep you on track for a successful photoshoot. The more seamless your photoshoot flows, the more likely your clients are going to recommend you to their network. We’ve got some advice on how to have a good photoshoot and meet your goals, as well as your clients’ goals. 

1. Create a Photoshoot Plan and Checklist

a couple writing out their checklistPhoto credit: Ketut S.

Start with the basics. Even if it’s not a rigid plan, having a general photo shoot plan. Create and preplan a shot list of poses or types of photos you know you need to capture and want to take during the photoshoot. A shot list will help you visualize the flow of the photoshoot and keep you efficient during the actual allowed time you have to shoot. Consider who or what you’re photographing. Pro Tip: Create a master checklist of everything you need for your photo shoots. This is great to have and add to the more you shoot so you can prepare a day or night before and pack all your gear prior to the day of the shoot. The last thing a photographer wants to do is show up at a location missing a piece of equipment or worse… an uncharged camera or flash battery.

Another important preplanning tip is to get your photography schedule organized so you have a full view of which shoots you have lined up for the month. Keep track of your appointments so nothing falls through the cracks and you forget about a date, and respond to any questions or concerns your bookings may have leading up to the big day.

2. Get to Know Your Client

Woman in Black Tank Top Holding Purple FlowerPhoto credit: Cottonbro

Don’t just take a few photos of your client and send them on their way. Give them a memorable experience and be yourself with them! Get to know more about your client and what their interests are. They’ll be able to exhibit who they are and what style they protrude. You’ll get a better sense of what to capture and help them bring out their own characteristics during the photoshoot. If there’s anything that promises a successful photoshoot, it’s being able to have a responsive and fluid client who will have fun with you as you shoot. After a client schedules a photography appointment, reach out to start establishing rapport and finding out what they want in their shoot. How will they be using these photos? Have they seen photography work or styles they like? What colors will they be wearing? Locations or settings they would like to shoot in? No detail is too small and you can never have enough information!

3. Control Your Lighting

2 Black and Brown Studio Lighting in White RoomPhoto credit: Tyler H.

Lighting can be a huge make or break for many photoshoots, but luckily you can take control of it. Plan on bringing accessories like a flash and reflectors to create your light source. Consider a few details as best as possible to create a successful day of photoshooting: 

  • Are there too many shadows? 

Learn how you can master a space with too many shadows. This is a great opportunity to create a mood that resonates with your client. Understand the direction of light coming through so that you can angle your camera in a better position to make the most out of the light. 

  • Are there bad reflections I should avoid? 

Like taking a photo through a window or glass pane, reflections can interfere with the quality of your shoot. If you don’t have the right lens, you can use some dark fabric (like a jacket) around your camera.

  • Is there too much sun exposure in this area? 

Even if there is a whole lot of daylight during your photoshoot, you can still find ways to manipulate the sunlight to your advantage. Either facing away from the sun with the client’s back to it, or using the ground as a reflector, you can position yourself so that it enhances the photo. 

4. Scope Out Your Location

Behind The Scene of Wedding PhotoshootPhoto credit: Rene A.

If you can, scope out your location to identify prime spots and how you can work with your environment. There’s nothing worse than finding your location might be closed or there’s an event that will ruin the quality of your photoshoot. This includes factoring in the weather. Check the forecast ahead of time to ensure no rain or inclement weather will affect anything. 

If you can, check the lighting during the time you will be shooting at the location and do a lighting check to understand what you’ll be working with and prepare your equipment as needed. This will help you take notes of how you can use what you have to your advantage and maintain a successful photoshoot. 

5. Organize Your Equipment

Top View Photo Of Laptop Near CameraPhoto credit: Andrew N.

There’s nothing more unprofessional than forgetting a piece of equipment or rummaging through your bag while the client is waiting for you. This is why we recommended creating a checklist earlier on in this guide. Prep yourself a day in advance and pack your bag with everything you’ll definitely need, and anything you will possibly need. Keeping in mind the condition of the day and the location, having the right lens, reflector, flash, and the unthought-of gear that will help you plan a photoshoot successfully will make everything go smoothly the day-of. 

This may sound obvious, but know how your camera works. Learn how to anticipate the shutter speed you’ll need and the best type of focus settings to use so you can get going with the appointment and use less time finicking with your settings. 

6. Hone in Your Style

Every photographer has a style. The more you shoot the more you groom and develop your style and techniques. If you’re planning to have a productive and successful day of shooting, now is not the time to try out something totally new if you haven’t tried and tested it out prior to your shoot. If you do want to test out new and other techniques you may have seen other photographers do, make some time for yourself when you have a moment to do a personal shoot for yourself. Of course, during a shoot testing out a little variety in the posing of your subject and new angles won’t hurt, especially if you have great light or an inspiring  location to work with. 

As for now, your client appreciates your existing work and has more than likely scoped your portfolio prior to booking you. Be smart with your photography schedule and make time to test and learn new techniques and practice something challenging. 

7. Follow Up After the Shoot

Person Writing On A TagPhoto credit: Cottonbro

Keep your connection with your client and follow up after the shoot. Remember that referrals are one way to gain more photography clients and that your client’s experience with you can go a long way by word of mouth. A few ways you can stay in touch with your client after the shoot are:

  • Giving them a card with your portfolio website and contact information

This is one way for your client to hand your information to a colleague of theirs and spread your name. Consider adding an offer on the card, such as one free headshot, or anything that pertains to your services appropriately.

  • Get your client’s contact information

Connect with your clients on facebook, instagram, twitter ect. Add their email to a client list that you can keep and collect over time

Enjoy shooting, learning and honing your craft. Keep our advice in mind as you set off on your next booking and watch your day progress into a rewarding one! You got this!