How to Prepare for a Photoshoot

Portraiture is a fine art, a combination of elements brought together to create what has been my career now for over five years.

Whether you create your own images or have booked a professional photographer, there are a few things to keep in mind based on my own experiences, with my clients and from being in front of the camera myself. These will help you when preparing for your next photoshoot…

1. Create a Vision

This is by far, the most important factor when planning your photoshoot. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced creative. This is particularly essential if you are working with a professional photographer and/or a team, as you need to be on the same page to ensure everything runs smoothly. A skilled professional photographer will work to understand your wants and needs for the session, but be sure to mention any ideas you have for atmosphere, styling, makeup, accessories, hair, location, or type of lighting you would prefer. The more details the better. The best way you can show your photographer your ideas is visually through a selection of inspiration images such as a Pinterest board. This is particularly helpful I find, and something I do often. Don’t be afraid to share raw images from your phone of anything you are thinking of including on the day such as your outfit, or makeup examples. If you are creating your images yourself this is also an essential part of the process, as all of these details will help to ensure everything works together seamlessly. There will be less stress on the day when your vision is brought to fruition. The same is true in reverse. If you are putting your trust in the hands of your photographer, ask for images to give you examples of what you can expect so you can be prepared. Always bring a selection of options on the day for your outfits, accessories, and keep a backup location on hand in case of bad weather.


2. Don’t Trust the Camera

This is an interesting one and not something most people are aware of. A common experience I find, even with my own work of myself. The images I prefer in camera are often different to the ones I see on the computer, and vice versa. If you hired a professional, trust their opinion and be aware that how it looks at the time may be wildly different to after the image has been finished to completion. I keep this in mind when I am shooting, as seeing the tiny thumbnail is often not representative of how you may feel about it later. Experiment, try a few different things but if you aren’t 100% happy with a shot at the time keep in mind that this may easily change later on, especially once lighting and colours have been accounted for in post production. [This is also known as the editing process].


3. Allow Extra Time

Don’t rush things, this is one of the most important pieces of advice I often give to clients. Even if you’re expecting to create one or two images, be prepared for it to take longer than expected, there are often problems to overcome, unexpected challenges or things looking different than planned and some adjustment can be necessary. Even if you’re taking your images yourself, then allow even more time to set up your camera and experiment to create your portraits. I generally allow an hour of photographing time for a handful of images. Don’t rush your preparation time either: I allow 1-3 hours for hair and makeup regardless of if I do it myself or I have a professional HMUA. I also allow an hour’s travel time, in case of Auckland traffic - something that I encounter more often than not recently!

4. Plan the Styling

The foundations of a good photo are created in camera. Not in Adobe Photoshop, as any professional photographer will tell you. You can make sure you create a fabulous image by doing as much as you can before hand and in person on the day. For portraiture this generally refers to makeup, hair and styling and lighting choices. [I’ll be writing a photography tutorial article in the future soon]. Makeup on camera is always more washed out than in reality, so if you aren’t comfortable doing a heavier look for your portraits, don’t be afraid to get another professional on board. How your outfit works with the backdrop is another thing to consider, for example you will not want to be caught wearing green amongst the trees - you’ll blend in and your body will partially disappear! Confer with your photographer as to what the colours of the location will be, and be sure that your outfit contrasts with the backdrop. My rules for this are generally go for the opposite: A dark backdrop, pick a light colour outfit. A light backdrop works with a vibrant or dark outfit. Colours can apply the same way too - Pick the opposite colour on the colour wheel to make yourself stand out from your location.


5. Be Flexible

Sometimes the plan has to change, whether it’s the weather ruining your plans, the light just isn’t doing what you hoped, the location has been affected or maybe you’re just not having a great skin or hair day. Whatever it is, be prepared to change your plans at a moment’s notice to get the images you are after, including changing where you go, and keeping an open mind. Some of my best portraits were created as a response to a potential obstacle. I chose not to let it affect my state of mind and found another way to find the beauty in what I was creating. That’s the magic of photography, it reveals itself as you look for it, and can manifest itself in mysterious ways…


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Photographer. Creator. Dreamer ♥