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June 04, 2014

Planning A Successful Photoshoot

June 04, 2014

First things first – I'm not a photographer (even though my better half is), and beyond plucking my iPhone from my pocket to capture a moment, document an experience, or even take the much-denounced food photo (in my house only!); I don't generally spend hours musing about how omnipresent imagery has become in our 21st-century lives. 

From providing an immediate, emotionally-resonant gateway to a new website, to choosing the right image to represent a piece of content in social media, images are powerful pieces of content that can't always be delegated to the diluted archives of stock photography. Sometimes, you need to go full Colonel Sanders and concoct an original recipe – few things are more deflating than seeing your headline image pop-up on other advertisements or sites...even your competitors! 

When stock photos won't cut it, here's what to keep in mind to make sure your photoshoot is a knockout.


(SmallBox photographer Mayowa Tomori being professional and flexible during a recent photoshoot for our client, the American College of Sports Medicine.)

Know Your Needs

Sure, new images are great, but don't get caught up in the distraction of something new and glossy – make sure you know your needs before you go clicking the shutter. Questions to ask include:

  • What purpose are your images serving?
  • Where will these images be primarily used? (i.e. on-site, display ads, social media, etc.)
  • What's the primary audience for specific imagery?

Why are these all important? The answers can dictate the composition, orientation, and content of your photography session. For example, if you have an upcoming batch of banner advertisements to create with overlaid text, the composition of your image is going to be much different than if you're trying to create the next visual viral post using the latest Instagram filters. 

Know Your Shots

Walking into a photoshoot without a previously outlined plan, for a creative-type, can be like being dropping a 5-year-old off at the toy store. While running around breathless from great shot to great shot can be energizing and result in great images, it probably won't result in the right images. At the other end of the spectrum, spending several hours setting up a single, perfect shot might mean that your other needs go ignored. Knowing what you need to accomplish beforehand will help keep you on schedule, and make the end of the session feel that much more productive:

  • Outline each shot that needs to be accomplished
  • When possible, list individuals that need to be present
  • Schedule a time period for each shot, making sure to account for any equipment set-up and tear-down
  • Communicate with any outside parties well in advance. You don't want your subjects or coordinating help to be uninformed!

Be Flexible By Being Professional

Sometimes, a great opportunity may present itself out-of-the-blue. Being open to great content opportunities by altering the day's schedule in the moment becomes a possibility when you're completely prepared for the day. That means operating on (or close to!) your schedule, while building in time for the organic moments that are near-impossible to pre-arrange. 

And of course, having the equipment to capture it all, no matter the change in circumstance, can be the difference between seizing and missing an opportunity. That means, have good equipment (lights! camera! extra help!), and be willing and ready to move around quickly when needed.

Got more tips to planning and executing a successful photoshoot? Let me know in the comments below!

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