Workflow – Planning a successful photo shoot

Whether paid, or not when organising a photo shoot I always plan as much as I can beforehand in an effort to ensure the outcome will be as successful as possible.

The Brief


Most photography briefs received from my commercial clients don’t provide a great deal of detail and are usually delivered by email. In order to gain a better idea of the kind of images my clients are looking for I have encouraged the use of mood boards as a means of sharing ideas. More recently, many clients have started ‘collaborating’ with me on specific Pintrest boards, which currently I am finding is the perfect platform for sharing ideas and inspiration.





The Call Sheet 

Where people are involved, communication is paramount and I find creating a ‘call sheet’ is essential if you are expecting the shoot to run to plan, especially if shooting on location. My call sheets always include names, phone numbers and email addresses of all involved, along with location and arrival times, plus weather information. Another essential item to include is the expected shoot duration, so all involved will know exactly how long they are required to attend. I have had a few situations in the past where models or crew were under the impression they were only required to attend the shoot for half an hour, but in fact were needed for much longer in order to meet the requirements of the brief










Equipment Check List

I tend to use a generic equipment list relating to the photographic gear I own. I’ll tick off any equipment required for a specific shoot but sometimes customise the list by adding any additional items needed, which sometimes involves hired equipment. In addition, I’ll have a section for adding specific items and details, which might include items like backgrounds, props, water spray, a smoke machine, and any other relevant items.


On The Day

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-20-36-28I nearly always print off specific Pintrest boards and take them with me on shoots. I find this helps everyone involved gain a clear idea what needs to be achieved but also helps by keeping me focused on a specific style of photography, rather than straying off on tangents. The mood board I use could be a customised version of the one I share with the client and may include notes and images with details relating to lighting ideas, backgrounds, and so on, all listed in an shooting order that’s logical for an efficient shoot.









Model Release Forms

In addition, I always pack model release forms and aim to get them signed prior to the shoot, where possible. Getting hold of signed model releases after the shoot can sometimes be a problem, therefore causing delays and jeopardises an efficient workflow. Nowadays, there are model release ‘apps’, which can be downloaded to smart phones. Utilising a model release ‘app’ may be more efficient but currently my forms are still paper-based.








Sample model Release generated from the ‘app’ Easy Release



After the shoot

In my next post I’ll discuss my workflow, from backing up images to client delivery – keep watching this space!

We also advice on planning and workflow during our photography workshops!


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