Being prepared for a professional photoshoot is paramount to leaving a good impression on your client. A forgotten piece of equipment or a poorly-chosen outfit turn your shoot sour. But don’t fret! These tips will help you to hold your head up high going into your next professional photoshoot.
Gather the right equipment
The proper equipment to carry out a photoshoot depends on the production. A few days before your photoshoot, evaluate what kind of photos will be taken and think carefully about what equipment might be necessary to create those images. Not all photoshoots are the same. For example, food photography requires different equipment than a lifestyle photoshoot.
Depending on the type of photoshoot, you’ll need to consider bringing things like your camera, tripod, flash and softbox, a light reflector (like a 5-in-1 reflector), a background, and even dishes in case of VIP assignments. (We’ll get more into specifics below!)
Make sure you’re charged up
Don’t let a low battery or a full memory card slow you down! Charge and test everything ahead of time. All your equipment should be in working condition, on a full battery, and with plenty of available storage.
Arrive in time to set up
Budget at least 5 minutes to arrive at the location, introduce yourself, explain why you’re there, and set down your things.
Consider how much equipment you’re bringing. If it’s a lifestyle photoshoot, then you’ll only need a few minutes to set up your camera. If you're shooting at a restaurant, on the other hand, you may be bringing flashes and other equipment with you. You're going to need at least 10 minutes to set up the flash and other pieces of your kit.
Then, you’ll need time to prepare the subject of your photo. If you’re photographing food, for example, it could take 5-10 minutes. Depending on the restaurant, it may even be up to 15-20 minutes.
If you are photographing people, you’ll need to take time to explain the photoshoot. Getting the subject comfortable with you and your vision can make a huge difference in the outcome of your images. This will probably take around 10-15 minutes.
In total, you should arrive at least 30-45 minutes early, depending on all these factors.
Be ready for the long haul
High-quality photos take time! You might be at your shoot for several hours, in some cases. Depending on the number of deliverables, and whether you are shooting a fixed or an active subject, you may be there for up to 2-4 hours, approximately. Bringing along snacks and water is always good practice- keep your energy up during the shoot! (But don’t worry, you’ll only need to bring enough for you, not for the talent.)
Look the part
Wear something that makes you look professional. Wearing a clean, ironed outfit and comfortable shoes will be your best bet. If you’ll be outdoors, check the forecast and dress appropriately for the weather. (Avoid flip-flops, shorts, or anything else you might wear to the beach!) They say to dress for the job you want… in this case, the job you want is right in front of you! Put your best foot forward.
Professionalism manifests in several steps. A “professional photographer” is not a title that you acquire when you buy an expensive camera. Professionalism is about consistency.
A professional photographer cares about their relationship with the client. The photographer takes time to understand what their client is aiming for - the type of pictures they need, what their plans are for those pictures- and makes sure they can deliver those images.
Present yourself well when you arrive. Introduce yourself, mention what company you represent, and explain to them the purpose of your presence.
Top Tip: Have a conversation with the on-site contact. Make sure they understand the process and clarify the photoshoot location(s), where you can put your things, and how the process of the shoot is going to unfold. Communication is key to professionalism and to maintaining a strong relationship with the client.
When you’ve finished up, be sure to touch base with your on-set contact once more to explain how the shoot went, follow up with any information they might need to know and thank them for their business.
In short, getting ready for a shoot can be just as important as the shoot itself! Every photoshoot will be unique in some ways, but you can come prepared every single time. There’s no better way to ensure getting re-hired and re-booked fo future gigs than to be 100% ready and professional for every photoshoot you attend.