You’re not just wondering how to plan a photoshoot. You’re wondering how to plan a photoshoot that lands you with evocative photography – seamlessly reflecting your brand and resonating with your target audience. Easier said than done. Here are some pointers.

1) Get clear about what you want

You could end up with photography that you love by chance. But it’s much more likely if you have a clear idea of what you want right from the get go. So be clear about the intention of the photoshoot. What product are you promoting? Are there any particular shapes or colour palettes that you can anchor into the story that you are communicating? Is there a certain tone or feeling that runs through your visual aesthetic? These are questions that need to be answered.

You should also think carefully about where the images will be used. Shooting for social media is very different from shooting for a billboard advert. Plan for the platform(s) that will be used to publish your material. Also think about what you want the photos to achieve. Are you advertising a certain product or is this more of a branding exercise? What feelings and emotions do you want to invoke in the people who see your images? The clearer you are about the purpose of your photoshoot, the more likely you are to get results that you are happy with.

2) Do you require models?

How do you find your ideal model? It goes without saying that they should reflect your brand. But more importantly they should be someone that your target audience can identify with. Age, skin tone and body shape must be considered carefully unless you want to alienate the people you are trying to reach out to. The good news is that there are tens of thousands of models to work with – in the UK alone. The bad news is that this can make your search a little laborious.

Then there’s the functional side of working with modelling agencies. Their prices for a model may vary depending on the type of image rights that you require or the platforms on which the images will be used. Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to budgeting is that the list price for a model won’t always include the agency mark up. This varies but is typically around 20%. Budget carefully.

3) Deciding on a location

Choosing a location for your photoshoot will be driven by two things: the purpose of your shoot and your budget. The feel of the location has to be right for your brand and the results that you are hoping to achieve. But you also need to be aware that you may need permission from the stakeholders of your chosen location. And that permission may incur a fee. You might even require an official licence to shoot.

4) Create a moodboard

There’s this theory that no art is truly original. After all, everything is inspired by something. So allow yourself to be inspired. Create collections of photography and faces that match what you have in mind. It gives you a visual reference point and a foundation from which to begin zeroing in on what exactly you want from a model or location.

5) Choosing the right photographer

You wouldn’t go to a bakery if you were looking for a decent steak. Likewise, different photographers have different specialisms. Example: if you are going to be working outside, it might be best to engage a photographer who has the experience of dealing with changing light conditions. That, of course, isn’t to say that you can’t break the rules. You could get some interesting results by forcing a photographer out of their comfort zone. Do your research. Scrutinise portfolios. You will know what’s right.

6) Testing your organisational mettle

How’s your multitasking? Planning a photoshoot requires more than just creative flair and a visual mindset. You must also be equipped with some brawny muscles when it comes to planning and project management. Your roster of responsibility includes arranging travel for photographers, models, makeup artists, stylists and lighting technicians to make sure everyone is where they need to be come the day of the photoshoot. And you may need to arrange accommodation too.

While we’re here, have you ever heard of a product photoshoot with no product? Exactly. So if it’s a product photoshoot you also must – absolutely must – make sure that the right samples, in the right sizes for your models, are ready well in advance. There’s nothing worse than realising that you have everything, and everyone, in place – only to find that the wrong product has been sent. Or the sizes don’t work with the models. Or you have the right product in the wrong colour. Day derailed.

7) Planning the shoot

You know the saying: time is money. That’s especially true when you have secured the services of a photographer, a model or two, a stylist, a makeup artist and so on. It pays – or rather saves – to make sure you have a clear plan for each photo, and that your photoshoot moves as efficiently as possible from one photoset to the next.

Storyboard your photoshoot in a planning document and make sure everyone is agreed in advance. You may have to factor in clothing changes, hair and makeup alterations or even changes in location. Also implement wiggle room in the schedule to improvise if part of the photoshoot isn’t working. Perhaps the model isn’t nailing the look you want. Maybe the backdrop isn’t right. Make space for contingency.

8) Create a fully costed plan

You need to know how much money you are spending if you want to stick to a budget. Refine if necessary.

9) Accept that things can go wrong

Photoshoots have a lot of moving parts. One of the smartest things you can do in preparation for your shoot is to anticipate what could go wrong. Then make contingency plans. That’s not negative, it’s realistic. You can’t control the weather. You can’t control travel delays. You can’t control the mood of the model or the photographer’s equipment failing. A catastrophe is only a catastrophe if you haven’t planned for it.

10) Think about post-production

You can breathe a big sigh of relief when a well-planned photoshoot goes well. But your work isn’t over yet. There has to be a plan for what happens after the photoshoot too. How long does the photographer require for post-production? What’s the process for selecting and refining the best images? And whose responsibility is it to supply the images in the right format and optimal dimensions for use on your preferred platforms? Make sure there’s a plan.

At least that’s how we do it…

We don’t miss a beat when it comes to arranging photoshoots. And we have relationships with modelling agencies, creatives and photographers across the UK and Europe. If you would like to see what we could do to elevate your brand, maybe you should get in touch.

Read this next:

  1. How to find models for a photoshoot
  2. Lights, camera, traction: how to do a fashion photoshoot