The Photoshoot Process | A Complete Guide
From concept to creation, planning to preparing, from a flash of inspiration to the final Images… planning a photoshoot can feel a little overwhelming at first, but don’t worry: I'm here to help you every single step of the way!
Welcome to The Photoshoot Process: A Complete Guide! This blog post will walk you through my entire process & will give you an in-depth look at exactly how I plan custom photoshoots for my clients. Many of my new clients are surprised to learn that I function as more than just a Photographer: I’m also a creative director, style & branding consultant, a posing expert, a meticulous planner, & more.
Every photoshoot is a completely individualized experience, & the images I create will look different for everyone based on their wants and needs. My goal is to make each step of the photoshoot process as painless, simple, & easy as possible for each & every one of my clients. I prioritize communication & structure from beginning to end, & I always keep the planning process collaborative & fun so that we can easily work together to create the images of your dreams!
Keep reading to learn more about exactly how I plan, prepare, & structure my photoshoots!
Let’s Get Started!
The first step of the process is to reach out to me via my Contact page - be sure to tell me a little bit about yourself & your image needs. I’ll respond with answers to your questions, my price list & photoshoot guidebook, information about my availability, etc. Next, we’ll schedule a time for us to have a complimentary consultation so that we can meet each other, see if we’re a good fit, & discuss your ideas in more detail.
Throughout this post, I’ll be using some examples from an amazing Personal Branding Photoshoot I had with my client Jami, a true crime podcast host based in Los Angeles. Her photoshoot was an absolute dream, start to finish! The examples in this post will help you to understand the process & will make it really easy for you to imagine how it would look to plan your own photoshoot. You can view Jami’s Final Image Gallery below or by clicking here, & can also read an additional blog post that goes into more specific detail about her photoshoot by clicking here: Jami Rice | Personal Branding Photoshoot.
Your Complimentary Consultation
I always set up a complimentary consultation either via Zoom or in-person at my Studio - this way, I can answer any questions you may have & we can talk through structure, pricing, planning, & the types of photos you need before you commit to booking a photoshoot.
During your consultation, I’ll ask you a short series of questions about yourself, your ideas, & what kind of images you’re envisioning so that I can get an accurate sense of who you are & what types of shots you need. For my clients who are business owners, I’ll also ask them to give me some more specific details about their business, the look/style they want for their brand, whether they have existing brand colors or style guidelines, etc. The answers to these questions will really help me to create photos that are a perfect fit for you!
Some of my clients have a full brand identity already, some are starting from scratch, some are rebranding or are somewhere in-between - I always make sure to meet people wherever they're at in their branding process. Once we finish discussing what kind of images would serve you best & you confirm that you’d like to move forwards with booking, we’ll move on to the next stage of the process!
Booking your photoshoot
It’s best to book your photoshoot at least 4-6 weeks in advance so that everyone involved has enough time to plan & prepare. I am generally booked out for anywhere from 1-3 months at a time, so if you are working on a tight schedule, it's best to schedule your complimentary consultation as soon as possible so that we can discuss options for potential photoshoot dates & get you on the books.
Photoshoot Contract & Booking Invoice
Once we’ve had our consultation & you’ve confirmed that you’re ready to book your session, I charge my non-refundable booking fee or session deposit in order to secure your date. You are not required to commit to any packages or further payments until your Image Purchasing Session after your shoot!
Included with your Booking Invoice is a Photoshoot Contract that I ask all of my clients to review & sign. Although contracts might not be the most exciting part of the photoshoot process, they’re really important for all of us - they protect you as a client, me as a business owner, & set expectations & boundaries for all of us while also keeping everything legal & legit. This contract looks a little different for each client depending on the scope of the session - it goes over details such as sharing & ownership of photos, cancellation policies, etc. I am always more than happy to walk my clients through their contracts if they have any questions or amendment requests!
Planning Your Photoshoot
Once we’ve booked your shoot & you have paid your booking fee, we get to move on to the fun part - planning & preparing! I create mood boards, shot lists, & a photoshoot schedule for every single shoot - my goal is to make the planning process as easy as possible for my clients. Every piece of planning information is shared with our entire team in advance - the hair and makeup stylists, any assistants or models, my client(s) & their marketing teams, & anyone else who may be involved in bringing the photoshoot together.
THE Planning Questionnaire
During your consultation, we’ll have gone over some basic planning details for your shoot. Once you’ve signed your contract & paid your booking invoice, I’ll email you a short planning questionnaire for you to fill out - this questionnaire helps me to confirm a few extra details that I need from you in order to begin planning your custom photoshoot.
Shot List + Photoshoot Timeline Document
Having a thorough & detailed shot list is crucial to the success of your photoshoot! This is one of the highest priorities for planning as it completely guides, shapes, & defines the goals for the imagery I will create with you. The Shot List & Photoshoot Timeline document that I’ll put together for you will ensure that you will get the exact variety of content you’re after without missing critical images & compositions that you need for your projects. We’ll pair the shot list together with a timeline schedule for your photoshoot day to make sure you have the most relaxing & efficient shoot possible. I’ll group sets of shots together by location or “types” of shot to ensure a smooth and easy flow between different parts of your photoshoot. I also take into consideration the best time(s) of day for different shots at different locations to make sure that we get the best light for each & every shot. To learn more, click to read: How To Come Up With Image Ideas For Your Photoshoot
Creative Mood Board
I always create a Pinterest board that contains multiple sections of visual inspiration! Having visual references for a photoshoot is really important, & these mood boards are the perfect place for us to collaboratively gather photos & solidify our plans for locations, poses, outfits, hair & makeup looks, etc. I always encourage my clients to contribute to the board themselves & to send me any images they may see online that they like the look of & would want something similar to for their shoot. We can refer back to this mood board on the day of your shoot to make sure that we’re getting exactly all of the shots that you’re wanting!
Click the buttons below to view examples of a client’s moodboard & a shot list/shoot timeline:
Location Sourcing & Planning
Included in your shot list & photoshoot timeline document will be some location options for us to choose from - I'll work to source & plan any locations you need after we get an idea of your style & talk through your ideas during your consultation. Depending on the type of session we’re planning, we can choose to take our shots at a studio, in your home or office space, outdoors at a park or beach, at a coffee shop, etc. - the options are endless! Once we settle on the locations, I then will contact the appropriate property owners, book studio space, secure permissions/permits if needed, etc., to be sure that your locations are planned & reserved in advance. To learn more, click to read: 10 Location Ideas For Your Personal Branding & Portrait Photoshoot
Preparing For your photoshoot
Your Welcome Packet & Client Portal
It’s important to plan in advance in the weeks before your shoot so that nothing gets left until the last minute. After you book your shoot, you will receive a Welcome Packet that is full of helpful advice and checklists to help you prep your hair, skin, outfits, etc. in the weeks leading up to your photoshoot! I've also created an exclusive online Client Portal that contains digital versions of all the photoshoot prep guides contained in your Welcome Packet, a quick overview of my Session Policies, links to my entire Client Tutorials series, & more. This online Portal has been really helpful for my clients who travel often, have busy schedules, or are always on-the-go... you can log in to the portal anytime from your computer or smartphone to access all the info you'll need as you prepare for your upcoming shoot.
Wardrobe & Outfit Planning
Feel free to be as casual &/or as dressy as you like - flip through your closet & make sure to choose pieces that suit your body type & fit well. Your Welcome Packet contains a detailed wardrobe planning guide that will help you to select the perfect outfits for your photoshoot. You’ll also have the option to book an additional Wardrobe Consultation with one of my Wardrobe Stylists to get some extra help with planning outfits. Click here: What To Wear | Q&A With Wardrobe Stylist Natalie Allard. I have guides to help both men & women, & my wardrobe stylists have many years of professional experience with styling all ages, sizes, & shapes. Your wardrobe is a powerful tool for building your brand, & the more effort you put into styling your clothing, the more confident you will feel & the better your photos will look!
Picking Your Props
A prop is any extra little object that you want to bring along to your photoshoot to give your photos that personal touch - think notebooks, mugs, accessories like eyeglasses or hats, etc. For help picking out props, click here to read my complete guide: How To Pick The Perfect Props For Your Photoshoot. Not every photoshoot requires lots of props, but it’s great to at least bring along one or two! For my clients who are having Branding shoots, I ask that they gather & bring along a few items that are special to them to use in their shots - for example, a favorite journal, a unique necklace, etc. Other popular props include laptops, plants, house decor items, unique wardrobe accessories, or other items that are unique to your particular career field.
Hair & Makeup Prep
Click here for my detailed prep guide: Hair, Skin, & Nails | How To Prepare For Your Photoshoot. All my photoshoots include the services of a Professional Hair Stylist & Makeup Artist on the day of your shoot - if you’re worried about having someone else do your makeup, don’t be! My stylists begin by asking you how you normally wear your hair & makeup, & then they’ll discuss your options & communicate with you to ensure that you look your best & are completely comfortable with how you look. This is a complimentary service & the cost is included in your Booking Fee. A Hair & Skin prep guide will also be included in your Welcome Packet. To learn more about the importance of Professional Hair & Makeup, click here: 5 Reasons To Have A Hair Stylist & Makeup Artist For Your Photoshoot. You can also click here to view some client transformations: Before & After Photos
Your Photoshoot Day
The day is finally here! When you arrive for your shoot, we’ll begin by having my Stylist ask you how you normally wear your hair, do your makeup, or perform your grooming routine, & from there you’ll be able to sit & relax as they style you. Afterward, we’ll organize the outfits you’ve brought & I’ll help you to decide which pieces would work best for which shots. Once we’ve gotten organized, we’ll then begin photographing the list of shots we’ve planned out. I’ll keep to our shoot schedule so that we don’t miss anything, & we’ll take breaks as needed to change outfits, eat a snack, take a breather, etc. I’ll guide you through your photoshoot with gentle posing direction - be ready to relax, have fun, feel confident, & flawlessly create all of the shots you need! Once we’ve finished creating your list of shots, your session will be complete.
Selecting & Purchasing Your Images
After we’ve completed your shoot, I’ll take the next few days to go through all of the images & will pick out the best of the best to present to you in your Online Proofing Gallery! The turnaround time for my initial editing process is about 10-14 days, & I’ll be keeping in touch with you during this time in order to check in with you, to help you schedule your Image Purchasing session, etc.
Your Online Proofing Gallery
Your Online Proofing Gallery contains a collection of all the best images from your photoshoot. All of the images in this gallery will be watermarked, low-resolution files that have undergone basic edits, meaning that I’ve gone through all of the images from your shoot & have taken out any that are obviously bad (eyes closed, blurry shots, etc.), & fixed any color/lighting problems that may have occurred. You will be able to easily select your favorites on your own time & can pick out the final images that you would like to purchase from within this gallery. For a detailed look at the image selection process, click here: How To Use Your Online Proofing Gallery
Image purchasing session
After the shoot, we’ll schedule a final meeting for a date 2-3 weeks in the future where I’ll help you to finalize your selection of favorite images from your gallery. You’re free to purchase however many images you like - some people just buy a couple, some people buy a package set, it's all up to you! To get a more detailed look into this process, click here: What Is An Image Purchasing Session? To learn more about the different products I offer in my Studio, click here: The Studio Product Collection
Signature Edit + Retouch
Every image that is presented to you in your galleries will have been edited with my signature color toning methods. Any image you choose to purchase will also be given a full professional retouch to handle the removal of distracting elements such as stray hairs, skin blemishes, etc. We can go over any special editing or retouch requests that you may have during your Image Purchasing Session.
Your Final Image Gallery
Once you’ve selected & paid for your picks, I’ll deliver your gallery of final digital images, & your accompanying prints & products will arrive to you within 4-6 weeks. To learn more about your Final Images, click to read my detailed blog post: How To Use Your Final Image Gallery.
Prints & Products
Last but not least, one of my favorite parts of the entire process - seeing those beautiful final images in print! There are multiple ways to display your final images that we’ve created together - I offer Prints, Wall Art, Folio Boxes, and an Album Option for you to choose from at your Image Purchasing Session. Digital images are included with every purchase in both Hi-Res and Web-Size versions. For more information about the Archival & Fine Art products I offer here in my Studio, click here: The Studio Product Collection
Now that you have a set of beautiful new images, you can finally go fix up that website, spruce up your Instagram, & create all the blog posts, print marketing, etc. that you've been dreaming of! It’s so much fun for me to see all of the cool things that my clients do with their images - it makes me smile whenever I scroll through my social media and see the beautiful photos we worked to create together popping up in my feed.
Seeing a photograph of yourself that you truly love is such a transformational experience, & my goal is to inspire every single person I work with to come out of their photoshoot feeling excited to show up with a renewed sense of confidence in both their personal & professional lives. Whether you need personal branding, creative portraiture, fashion & lifestyle imagery, or all of the above, I can help you take your business to the next level with unique photographs that make it easy to tell your story & to market your work!
For more information, you can click to watch a photoshoot, view client testimonials, see my portfolio, read frequently asked questions, etc. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me via my contact page to book your own photoshoot or to ask me any questions!
THE PHOTOSHOOT PROCESS | CLIENT GUIDES & TUTORIALS
Check out all of these additional detailed guides to learn more about different aspects of the photoshoot process: