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Photographer’s Guide to Preparing for a Photoshoot

Photographer’s Guide to Preparing for a Photoshoot

Now that you have booked your first paying customers, you may be wondering how to best prepare for your first client’s photoshoot.  Preparing for your shoot requires more than just grabbing your camera.  The best way to make sure you are prepared for the shoot is to make out a checklist to go through before every shoot.  We’ve compiled a list of tips and explanations on how to prep for your shoots to try to make your life easier in the future. A Few Days Before the Shoot  
  • Contact your client a few days before to thank them for their booking and confirm the date, time, location and meeting place for your shoot. Answer any last-minute questions they may have about wardrobe or anything else. Also, give them a weather update to help them prepare for any wardrobe changes needed for an outdoor shoot.
  • Do a dry run through all the gear you’ll be using. Pop in the battery and the memory card, and walk around snapping some photos. Plan on using one of your external flashes from Load the batteries and snap some test shots. This is just to make sure all the gear you intend to use is in full working condition and working the way you want it to. If you’re going to have a problem, now’s the time to have it.
  • Do a walk through of the location you’ll be shooting at during the time of day you’ve booked the shoot. Look for cool nooks and crannies for fun photos, and for attractive and evenly lit backgrounds and foregrounds. What exactly you’re looking for will change depending on whether you’re shooting a high school senior or a newborn, a family of four or wedding pics. But familiarity with your location before you’re there with clients will make the experience more fluid for them and you will be more confident throughout.
The Day Before the Shoot
  • Figure out what equipment you want to bring. Depending on the type of shoot, indoor, outdoor, wedding, action, etc., you will need different pieces of equipment from your overall checklist you’ve created of your inventory.
  • Charge your camera batteries as well as external flashes, flash controller, and any other miscellaneous batteries you may need. Always take extra batteries as well.
  • Check the settings on your cameras to make sure you don’t have them set on any special settings. It’s better to start from neutral settings when beginning a photoshoot, and then adjusting your settings as needed.  Also, don’t forget to clear your memory cards so you have the maximum amount of space for your shoot.  It is good practice to take extra cards for every shoot.
  • Clean your equipment, including both ends of each lens and the inside of the lens cap.
  • Go over your directions to the location of the shoot. Know how long it should take you to get there – then allot an extra 15-30 minutes. If there’s any chance of traffic issues, allow even more extra time. Your Garmin GPS from will come in handy for this step.
  • Place the client’s contract in your camera bag in case any questions arise.The Day of the Shoot
  • Plan to arrive 15 minutes early for lifestyle shoots and 30 minutes early for events, so you can get your gear set up based on the light at the location. Arrive even earlier if the shoot is in an urban location where you’ll need to find parking or if it’s an unfamiliar location, so you can do a quick walk-through.
  • Make sure every client feels special and not like just another subject. Read over any notes you have, jot down any special requests the client has made so you can bring those up when you arrive, and do your best to remember names.
  • Then, for mental preparation, do what you need to do to be open to creative thinking.  Maybe that’s sketching, baking, reading a few pages of your favorite novel, going for a run before your shoot or listening to some music.
  • And lastly, be confident and have fun!
  Now that you’ve read through this article, this will give you a place to start and you will be able to make your own personal pre-shoot checklist.  
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