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Just another photoshoot? I think not!

Instagram makes taking photos look so easy. All you have to do is pose and take the photo and BAM! Your photo shoot is done right? Well that’s one step in the process. The truth is there’s actually a lot of planning that goes into photo shoots. So today I wanted to share a behind the scenes look of what actually goes into planning a photo shoot.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, planning a photoshoot can feel stressful. There are a million things to organize. From the concept, visual references, the shot list, models, and much more. A great plan sets you up for success. It helps you organize every detail before the shoot so you can focus on taking amazing shots.

The first step of conducting a photoshoot is coming up with a concept. Whether it’s fashion photography, portrait photography, or just a personal photo session with a family member, the concept should ideally drive all other creative and practical decisions.

Once you’ve gathered a bunch of great photos to use as a reference, it’s time to figure out where you want your photo shooting to occur. Determining where to conduct a professional photoshoot can be tricky. There a few important questions that need to be answered before you continue. What type of light source will there be on the day of the shoot? Is there natural lighting, or will you need to use artificial light? What type of set best compliments your concept? Is it a set that already exists, or a custom set that you need to create yourself? If you are renting a location, how much does it cost? Will the cost of your location eat into other items in your budget, such as paying a stylist or a makeup artist?

Now that you have your concept and your location, it’s important that you have the right type of equipment on your shoot day. Though you should feel free to experiment with different equipment to achieve distinct looks, here are some helpful tips for conducting specific types of photoshoots:

Portrait photography. In portraiture, the focus is generally on the subject’s face. A portrait photographer should make sure they have a camera that can capture a person’s facial expressions clearly, especially if they’re shooting a headshot or family portraits. Film, mirrorless, and DSLR cameras allow creative flexibility while also providing high-resolution image quality.

Wedding photography. Wedding photography requires a professional photographer to know how to capture a variety of different moments without a lot of time for set-up. Wedding photographers, for instance, should be sure to pack a variety of lenses that be used for different parts of the wedding. A wide-angle lens is useful for group and landscape shots, whereas a prime or macro lens might be needed for specific high-drama moments, such as cutting the cake or the first dance.

If you’re a commercial photographer or working in portraiture, selecting the right model to place in front of the camera is one of the most important decisions you can make. Here are some suggestions to help you select the best model for your shoot:

  1. Do you have any friends or family members who might be a fit for your shoot? If so, be sure to be upfront with them about the usage, terms, and time requirements of the shoot.

  2. If your shoot requires a model with experience, try reaching out to talent or modeling agencies.

  3. Always get a signed model release form from your model, whether they’re friends, family, or professionals. This allows you to use their image and likeness, protecting you from any issues that may arise if you decide to publish or sell your photographs.

Once your photoshoot is underway, you need to make sure your subjects feel comfortable in front of the camera and with you behind the camera. How you conduct yourself is going to affect the shoot. Talking alone with the subject before things start is the best way to establish a fruitful rapport.

Communicate with them throughout the shoot. Follow-up with them to make sure they are comfortable, and take plenty of breaks so that everyone feels refreshed and energized.

Creating an atmosphere that matches the desired mood of your photographs can help achieve the best possible results. One great way to do this is to play music during the photoshoot, which can help put your models and crew in the right state of mind and relax them.

Try different poses, outfits, expressions, and compositions throughout the shoot. Even if you’ve already gotten your “Plan A” shot, try something different. Sometimes the best photographs come from spontaneous, unguarded moments.

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