Planning Your Next Photography Shoot

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Thomas Edison is created with the saying, “What it boils down to is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.” So it is with your photo shoot. Planning is paramount for a successful shoot. Here are few thoughts to help you get ready for your next shoot.

Find Your Concept

Accurately define your concept for the shoot. What are you trying to achieve? How will the images be used? Will it be a highly styled image for advertising or a casual image for a blog post or e-newsletter? Getting this part right will save a load of headaches down the road.

Decide On a Location

Studio or location? If your final image will be a studio shoot, you’ll have more control over lighting and, perhaps, placement. Going on-location can mean lesser control and likely more expense. Location shooting requires packing and unpacking equipment and then packing it all up again when it’s over.

Gather Reference Images

This is often overlooked by both photographers and their clients. Reference images can go a long way in communicating your concept. Create a whiteboard or inspiration board to help communicate your ideas.

Sourcing Models (if needed)

Does your image require hiring models? If so, prepare to spend a lot of time going through head sheets. Not all models are tall, skinny fashion types. Not all models are full-time, either. So, also plan of scheduling, conflicts and alternate shoot dates.


Styling a photo shoot is all about creating the right mood or atmosphere for an image. The stylist will help gather props and arrange them on the set. In the case of a fashion stylist, they may also tailor the clothing, add accessories and consult with the photographer on other image-related elements.

Planning lighting and execution

Photography is about light and lighting. As a matter of fact, Einstein once referred to photographers as “light monkeys.”

What type of lighting is needed? Strobes? Quartz or “hot” lights? If you’re shooting models or ice cream (unless you substitute mashed potatoes), quartz lights will melt them down pretty quick.

What do you need delivered?

Will you need prints for display? If so, what size? Do you need digital images? Is so, what resolution? Can the images be delivered on a thumb drive, by email or via the Web?