Planning a Photoshoot Step 3: Photoshoot Day

No matter which way you slice it, the day of the photoshoot is the most important day for both you and your clients. The day the magic happens! All of your hard work and long hours spent planning and preparing come together in a blur. It is imperative you are ready for anything. While we can’t give you the details of how to run a shoot from top to bottom (because every photoshoot is different, and needs different things) we can give you our top recommendations based on years of running shoots of all shapes and sizes. These easy to remember tips should help you avoid the largest possible pain points on the day of your photoshoot!


blurry photoshoot



It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve used your super reliable camera and gear, one day they will quit on you. Wouldn’t it be better to have that info before you’re on location? Test everything, every time, a few days before the shoot. Cameras, cards, batteries, flashes, lights, etc. We mean everything. This will give you 48hrs (instead of 45 minutes) to figure out a backup plan.


2: Bring printed copies of the shot list and/or script.

We know it may seem like overkill, but having hard copies of your goals and the vision for your shoot will be invaluable on set. These will mostly be passed around to help keep people on time and on track with goals. They will also be very helpful when plans change and pen hits paper to make adjustments. Digital PDFs on your phone, while handy, aren’t very flexible when things change on shoot day. Reassign lines, adjust timelines, and delete whole scenes with a simple flick of your wrist! Just remember to bring your edited sheet home with you to help with post production.


3: Bring an “Essentials Kit” for beauty and wardrobe.

This is one of those gray areas that often falls into the “whose job is this again?” category. That being said, it’s also one of the most useful tools to have with you on shoot day. Most wardrobe and hair/makeup malfunctions can be solved with common tools usually available for a few dollars. Build an “essentials kit” and throw it in your camera bag, you’ll be surprised how often it saves the day!

  • Tide stain pen
  • Lint roller
  • Comb
  • Steamer/Wrinkle releaser
  • Wet wipes
  • Nail clippers
  • Hair ties
  • Sewing kit

4. Prepare for every lighting scenario.

Being a “natural light photographer” is a great style to strive towards, but that doesn’t mean you should be unprepared when artificial lighting may be necessary to get the shot. Always have a small constant LED lighting option in your bag, as well as a flash for those problematic dark shots. At the very least bring diffusers, screens, and bouncers to have more control over your setting. It is always better to have options and tools to create those options than it is to draw a hard line in the sand regarding your style and how it affects your professional capabilities. Translation: Natural light photographers still need to have lighting options at every shoot.


5. Have enough memory cards to last days.

We can’t stress this enough- have a plethora of card options. There is nothing that says “unprepared” more than watching a photographer unload photos and clear cards on set. When our cameras only captured on one card at a time we loved to use smaller cards and switch them often, just in case one was corrupted the loss was minimized. Now that our camera’s shoot to 2 cards simultaneously we simply make sure we have a good system for knowing which cards have been used.

Our system:

  • Clear every card to 0gb before every shoot
  • Never, ever format or clear a card on set
  • Have a case for unused cards (black) and a case for used cards (red)
  • Change cards before the action, not during


6. Advocate to get the shot.

This is the golden rule: it’s up to you to say when “we got it” and the vision has been captured. It can be tempting to rush through scenes to accommodate models or talent or even clients, but we highly recommend taking your time on shoot day to really get the look you’re going after. If that means the first half of the day runs a little longer, that’s better than getting back to your computer and only having half of what you needed after a full day. It is WAY easier to push a shoot longer than to plan an identical second shoot to fill in the gaps. Take your time, the client will thank you later.


7. Review on site.

Photographers generally do not love showing clients raw images right out of the camera body, but that is what we are recommending here. This is such a time saver in the long run when you and the client can review and make decisions in real time on set. Explain to the client the difference between captured and “done”, and invite them to help you decide if the goal has been achieved with the images you’ve captured. We’ve found that this real time feedback, while sometimes humbling, is a great way to ensure you are hitting the target and building trust with your clients.


Want to learn more about our photoshoots? Email us today!