Great Tips For Walking Into Your First Photoshoot

We all know it can be overwhelming when walking into your first paid photo gigs. You want to look like you know what you’re doing and you don’t want to disappoint your clients. Click through to see the rest of the post to learn more tips:

  • Never hurts to think of rough concepts the night before. Even better if you try and sketch some setup ideas first (see “storyboarding”).


  • Refrain from giving your portrait subjects posing orders or telling them to give an expression (such as “smile” or “frown”) right away. Typically people react the opposite of what you ask them to do early on in a shoot because they feel uncomfortable so you must warm them up first. Start the shoot off with casual questions and conversation (example: “where are you going on your  honeymoon?”, “have any vacation time coming up?”, “where are you from originally?”) to help make your subjects feel comfortable (presuming they aren’t full-time actors or models) and remove the awkwardness many people feel when in front of a camera.


  • Consider playing music in the background (if the situation is appropriate). My safe bet is always Marvin Gaye’s Pandora station. It doesn’t hurt to ask what your clients would enjoy. Upbeat music with good energy helps relax everyone on set. I actually travel with a bluetooth speaker set in my camera bag to play music on location from my iPhone.


  • The night before, make sure all the batteries are charging. The morning of, make sure all the equipment is packedIf this is a paid gig and you’re about to try a new technique, make sure to try it ahead of time on a test subject. Don’t base your whole photoshoot on a technique you never tried before. It’s too risky, and not fair for your client.” – Noam Galai


  • Have a trusted friend/photographer assist you, have a mood board or some concept images in mind to go through with the subject, brief everyone on the team (hair, make up, assistants etc) to be there 30mins before they actually need to be there ahead of the client’s arrival time for the inevitable delays/late arrivals. Have some tea/coffee/water/snacks available and out, smile a lot as it helps keep you and your client relaxed, compliment the client on how they look when they walk in even if they look like they are still drunk and been dragged through a hedge backwards from the night before. Have a brief schedule for the team so everyone knows what times they need to work to to minimize stress on your part if time slips away. Sandbag those lights too, don’t risk anything falling over and hitting anyone on your first shoot.” – Dave Geffin