Picture Perfect: Tips for Planning a Photo Shoot

“Quiet on the set!”

Those words couldn’t have been further from the truth at a photo shoot with multiple children.

Our photo shoot for Primrose Schools® started bright and early at 6 a.m. as I began to set up the studio hoping my coffee would kick in by the time everyone started arriving. Photographer, art director, hair and makeup, the client – one by one the crew for the day took their place in the studio. Models followed shortly after and the shoot was ready to begin.

After 14 hours of reading books, playing with toys, steaming clothes, selecting outfits, setting up shots, attempting to make children smile, reviewing photos, and much, much more, we finally had all that we needed. Thankfully, there was minimal running around and few meltdowns on set (after all, they are called the terrible two’s for a reason).

The day was a success. But without thorough preparation, a photo shoot of this size could have gone quite differently. There are numerous factors to take into consideration when planning a photo shoot and if you can prepare for things ahead of time, the big day is likely to run much smoother. Below are some key considerations to keep in mind as you prepare to say, “lights, camera, action!”

Photographer – Without an experienced photographer, your photo shoot will end before it begins.  Our talented Ashton Staniszewski is perfect for any shoot!

Location – Another crucial piece for the day, the location depends primarily on the type of photo shoot you are holding. For us, a large, open studio was perfect. There are many studios with daily rentals available around the city depending on what you are looking for.

Models – Securing talent is essential to any photo shoot. Allow plenty of time to select models and for your team or client to review options. Plan for changes in availability and have some backups selected should you need them. Request multiple headshots from the modeling agency to ensure you are getting an accurate representation of each individual. Make sure to specify what you want the models to wear the day of the shoot and have them bring extra outfit options. When signing contracts, negotiate usage rights upfront. If children are involved as models, be prepared for the unexpected.

Clothes – While you have already specified what the models should wear (and asked them to bring extra options), that doesn’t mean they will show up with what you need. Gather the sizes for all of your models prior to the shoot and purchase additional options for everyone. You can always return what you don’t use.

Props – Do you need chairs?  Toys for children to play with?  Creating a list of the photos you will be taking will help determine what props are needed.

Hair & Makeup – Your photos will likely be zoomed in, blown up and used all over the place – so you want your models to look their best.  Hair and makeup will do just that!

Food – Don’t forget you could be on set all day and a hungry crew won’t be happy. For a full-day shoot, you will need to order food for breakfast, lunch and possibly dinner. Plus, if kids are around, snacks and drinks are important.

Schedule/shot list – Walk through the entire day and schedule each model. If children are involved, be sure to keep in mind nap times, meal times and a shorter attention span. You will likely need to allow for breaks every 20-30 minutes or kids will lose interest.

Team – A core team is necessary for the day to run smoothly. In addition to the photographer, account manager and client, at a minimum you will want an art director and an extra team member on set to help with any last minute issues (there will always be something).

Backup plan – It can’t hurt to be over-prepared. Have all contact information with you on set in case a model doesn’t show up or hair and makeup runs late. Print copies of the schedule for everyone so all team members are aware of the plan for the day.

Hopefully these tips help in planning your next successful photo shoot, and before you know it you’ll be saying, “That’s a wrap!”

(pictured left-to-right: JSers Danielle Tejada, Ashton Staniszewski, Mary Dykes and Brian Steely)