There are so many things to know before a photoshoot, especially when it’s not quite clear what it is you might need to prepare and take with you.
This will get easier over the years and you stress less, because you also learn how to adjust and figure how to do lighting and photography in general.
What’s the worst that can happen?
I can easily answer that question.
That you don’t charge your battery.
Or you didn’t empty your memory card, and can’t delete the images because you didn’t transfer them once you had the time.
And yes. It has happened to me. In a situation where I actually had to delete images one by one, to be able to take new ones.
I wish I knew this once I started photographing: you should buy big enough memory cards. These days you won’t be enjoying 2GB memory card for long.
So in general, you could go by this one rule that you’ll always follow: everything you can do today, do it now.
I recommend you to check your equipment on the same week you’re planning on having the photoshoot. This way if something unexpected arises, you can still adjust your equipment and time to refocus everything.
So what to do before a photoshoot?
Here are the things to remember when you are preparing your photoshoot
1. Date & location
This is kind of self-explanatory – do not get confused on timing or the location. This goes without saying. It will be seen as extremely unprofessional and you can be sure to not have these clients return to you for any other photoshoot.
2. Check your camera battery
I usually go through the batteries the day before; charging them all (yes, you should have more than one battery), and packing them. I also always take a charger with me for any sudden situations where I might need it.
3. Empty your memory card(s)
You should start clearly labelling your folders with the date and year of your photoshoot along with a keyword that will clearly state what is in that specific folder. For example 26102022_BeachPhotoshoot.
This way emptying your memory card will also become so much easier, since you’re not dumping it all on your desktop and then not finding anything from the pile of hundreds of images. This is you just building a stable base for your practice.
4. Go through the equipment needed
Check that your camera works, take out the memory card and change lenses to see that their connection is working and you can take images without any issues. If you’re using a speedlite, check that you have enough batteries for it and of course, have extra batteries with you.
Check that your studio lights work if you’re photographing with a portable set; cords are ok, and you have adapters to go if needed.
And if you’re using umbrellas or soft boxes, you can go through them to make sure there’s no tearing or scratches on them and that they attach properly.
5. Make sure that you’ve informed your client
Sometimes when we’re busy, it might seem we have communicated with everyone about the details of the photoshoot. But it might also be, that you have only briefly discussed about them with your client.
Always sending a reminder email with everything lets your client know that you are aware of everything that needs to be done and remember to share it with your clients too.
Details like address of the photoshoot, dress code, starting time etc. This way you build trust between you and your client.
6. Pack your props and backdrops
If you’re photographing outside of your studio or just a location that is new to you, make sure you bring your own props and backdrops. Fabric backdrops are easy to carry and build in every location. You will also need 2 stands to be able to build the background with.
If you have a backdrop paper roll, make sure the location you’re shooting in has the rack to hold it. This can also be done with 2 stands but it’s almost impossible to transport the roll in your car.
If you like to use props like leaves or hay or flowers, have them packed ready for the photoshoot.
7. Lunch and snacks
This is a major one if you’re having a photoshoot longer than 2 hours. When your client has not eaten in a while, it will be showing in the pictures.
And it’s especially true when photographing kids; they start to get tired and cranky and it becomes almost impossible to get the shot.
So either inform your client to eat before the photoshoot or bring snacks for them. If the photoshoot is going to last whole day, make sure there is a plan to feed everyone and know what food preferences everyone has.
8. Contact and other details
If you’re photographing outdoors and it’s only planned to last for 2 hours so you’re not going to transfer any photographs during your photoshoot, you’re probably not going to bring your laptop with you.
Always make sure you still have everything with you that you exchanged with your client – as a pdf or in your emails. So if there’s a moment you need to check for any details or reference images, you have it with you even without the laptop.
Make sure you have the contact number of your client, so you don’t have to start searching it through all the emails once you need to call them for any reason.
9. Mood board printed
This is a personal preference but I like to show my clients what we’ve planned together for the photoshoot by printing out the mood board. I want to let them really see the reference images with different poses and the dress code, so that they are able to better form the picture in their head once we’re about to start shooting.
You can also always go back to the mood board during the photoshoot, to see if you’ve photographed everything you planned. In the moment it might be difficult to notice how many images you’ve taken and whether you used all the poses and props you were planning to.
These are the things to know before a photoshoot and I hope sharing them will guide you preparing for yours. Now that you know what to do before a photoshoot, you’ll make your planning a lot easier.
But even before deciding on the photoshoot there are steps I take when discussing pricing and creating the cost estimate. With a larger team, there is also a call sheet that is sent out prior to the photoshoot.