123 Shoot (Photo Shoot Basics)

I’ve had the opportunity to plan some photo shoots and I’ve decided to share since I’ve made many mistakes and discoveries others may want to know. I like using steps so I’ve narrowed my findings to 3 detailed steps. Overtime I hope to learn more about having a successful photo shoot, for now see the steps below!

1) Concept

There are many reasons why you would plan a photo shoot, keep the goal in mind. I struggled with this in the past and I’m still learning how to accomplish what I set out to accomplish at a shoot. If the goal of your shoot is hair, then the wardrobe should not be to overpowering. If the goal of your shoot is the wardrobe then everything else should seem like a background. If the main purpose of your shoot is awareness for a cause or branding, make sure the images are telling your viewers about the cause or the brand.

2) Planning

You’ll need to think about the following:

• Contracts are always needed if you are professional and thinking ahead, Google has plenty of templates you can explore and change to fit what you’re looking for. I typically create contracts based on what those involved are looking for and photo release for posting images on the Internet. You will also want to include photo credit be given to those who made the shoot possible (Photographer, model etc.) It’s courteous; give honor to who honor is due.
• Time of the day..Lighting is a key factor in communicating your ideas to the photographer and MUA. Start time and End time (People are usually late, prepping time should at least be an hour and 30 min. ahead, 2 if possible)
* Who are you working with? (See #3)
• What could go wrong? You should be prepared for rain or shine, multiple locations should be in your head
• Are you providing food? People perform better when hospitality is given. The meal doesn’t have to be a full out brunch but water & snacks are always great.
• Absolute end time respecting time is crucial, photo shoots are fun but dragging it forever will drain the team and your creative ideas!
• Create an agenda; agendas are great for keeping everyone on the same page. You should still be flexible but an agenda everyone is aware of will cause the shoot to go smoother. (I’m still working on paying attention to the haha)

2) Who Do You Know?

When I had to plan my first photo shoot I was a bit intimidated. For example who would want to work with me, would I need money, are the people I know capable of brining my vision to life? However, after scrolling through my Instagram and other social media outlets I realized I knew more than enough people! The thing is you may not have 100’s of contacts but the Internet does and you would be surprised of what you find out.

I learned I had many friends who were actually talented photographers that would work Pro-bono (free) or for a low cost (They need to build their portfolios too). Most importantly I made sure I was choosing a photographer based on the theme or essence of the shoot, different photographers capture different details. In any case I chose to work with photographers that would match the scenes I had in mind.


Currently it seems as though everyone is a model although, everyone is NOT a model. Therefore, I held virtual model calls for some shoots or personally contacted models I was interested in based on seeing their work. It is slightly easier to cast models for photo shoots because height is typically not an issue. I’ve found the best models are the ones who treat modeling like an art. Skilled models are not concerned with a pretty picture; skilled models bring the product or intention of the shoot to life with facial expressions and energy.


Boutiques and upcoming designers would love to have their products shot for free! If you do not have the resources to reach top fashion designers research fashion movements going on in your area or an area near you. You can negotiate by agreeing to release some images they may use for their website or social media platforms. Many people are creating and looking for game changing collabs! If you reach out the worst you can hear is no, or you could hear yes! Create a relationship with that designer which leads to meeting other designers for future projects or their friends who own boutiques.

Hair & Makeup:

Hair and makeup is huge! What would you like your subjects to convey? That is how you choose a Hairstylist and a Makeup artist. If you want detailed professional looking hair, it’s important to find a hairstylist vs. someone who can do hair. If you are going for a punk rock look you want an artist who can make punk rock flatter any model regardless of skin tone. YouTube has encouraged many people to feel like they are hairstylists or MUAs, I would say the work of the artist speaks for itself; scope them out and ask as many questions as you want to determine if they will capture the look you’re going for.

Lastly, relax! I have confidence going into a shoot because, I know I’ve prepared and prayed for creativity. Most importantly I’ve prayed for positive chemistry among those involved with the shoot. So far it has seemed to work wonderfully for me ☺



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