How to Set Up A Photoshoot -dslrad

How to Set Up A Photoshoot

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The term ‘photoshoot’ can mean different things to different people; therefore before we go on to explain how to set one up, we should actually define what we mean by the word ‘photoshoot.’

We refer to a photoshoot as a photography session that has a set theme and objective, with the subject of the photo normally being a model or models.

In terms of location, a photoshoot often takes take place in a photographic studio where lights and backgrounds can be utilized, however, it can also be done in other locations, either indoors or outdoors, depending on the purpose of the photoshoot. Let’s look in more detail on how to set up a photoshoot.

What’s the Theme?

Normally a photoshoot should have a specific purpose and from that the theme of the photoshoot becomes apparent. You must get the client who has commissioned the photoshoot to give you a clear steer as to what they want the photoshoot to achieve, as this will determine everything else that follows.

For example, if a manufacturer of coats has a range which they wish to portray as ultra-warm in winter, that photoshoot will have a completely different look to a photoshoot promoting coats that are bought for their luxurious appearance.

By all means, brainstorm some options, do some research to see what has worked for other photographers in that niche, without copying them of course, and ask colleagues and fellow photographers what ideas they might have.

Pre-Planning the Visual Concepts

Once you have the visualization of the overall concept, you can make a list of sorts of specific images you want to capture.

This should include whether it is going to be shot in a studio or on location, what backgrounds you want, the lighting you need, what your models will wear, and the preferred gender, age, and appearance of any models.

This is you using your imagination to put into your mind’s eye the photographs you want to capture. If your client wishes to have a lot of input to the photoshoot, then it will be worth it to explain your ideas to them to ensure that they are happy with the concept you are proposing.


Once the concept or theme has been agreed and signed off, you then want to plan the practical aspects of the photoshoot.

First will be determining what equipment you are going to need. In terms of photographic equipment such as cameras, lenses, tripods, etc., these will often be those which you always use. However, other equipment might need to be arranged if these are for a one-off purpose.

Items such as a wind machine, special lighting rigs, and reflectors are just a small sample of some of the items you may need to buy, hire, or borrow for the photoshoot.

You’ll also need to arrange for any products which the photoshoot relates to be made available and in addition, any props which are going to be used must be sourced.


If your photoshoot is going to taking place in a studio then this needs to be hired for a sufficient length of time, with enough flexibility so that if any delays occur on the day, they can be accommodated. You’ll need to ensure that any rigging for backgrounds and lighting is suitable.

If you are going to be shooting on location, then you may need to get permission if it is on private property, or in a building. You’ll also need to ensure that here are the facilities to accommodate the equipment you need. You do not want to turn up and discover there is only one power socket on the entire floor.

Obviously, if you are going to be shooting outdoors, and in a location away from any buildings you may need a generator if you are going to be using lighting and other electrical equipment.

You’ll also want to factor in what time of day your photoshoot is going take place, as this may be crucial to the lighting effects you desire. Always ensure that you will be able to access your location at the time you need to.

How to Set Up A Photoshoot - models - dslrad


During the planning phase, you should have determined how many and what type of model you wish in terms of gender, age, physique, hair color and looks. Assuming you are organizing properly, the models will have been booked through an appropriate agency.

Ideally, you want to build up a good working relationship with several agencies, who you know you can rely upon to provide models who are reliable and professional.

Photoshoots are not always as glamorous as they might sound, and after a grueling four hours posing under hot lights, you want a model who is still prepared to give you that final pose you need to complete the set.

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