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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Park


Good results come with planning. All shoots require some level of production. Whether it's talent co-ordination, locations, crew, weather, equipment or even as simple as making sure people are happy with water on set. All of these elements combine to make for better results. There is only so much a photographer can do with composing, directing talent, lighting and equipment.


Prior to the shoot day you will want to have considered the elements that go into a shoot. Even small shoots can have a lot of planning to make them go smoothly. Scheduling peoples time is ultimately the most important factor, however location timings and availability also need planning.

  • Brief the photographer. As each shoot is unique there will likely be the need for different equipment. If you brief me well I can make sure I have everything that I may likely need on the shoot.

  • Also essential is the shot list. It should include people names, times and location. You may want to add a column for notes and any variations for each shot required.

  • If you are unsure of a location being adequate for photography, then simply send some snaps of the location to me. For headshots an area at least four and half meters long is advised. This would allow for lighting from the side and back and for me to use a more flattering longer lens. For advertising shoots I will often source and visit the location before the shoot.

  • Discuss the shoot brief with the designer or person ultimately using the shots and video. Do they have media parameters to fill. Many websites now need panoramic shots which are much wider than a 35mm DSLR sensor frame. Do you need a vertical option for print?

  • Balance the budget with expectations. Often I shoot by myself which save the client assistant costs, however there are some shoots where this is a false economy. Most shoots have lights, a laptop and camera gear. On shoots where we need to move around from one location to another it maybe better to spend on an assistant to make sure my time is spent on actually shooting and not setting up and packing down equipment. Often if we are in one location or I am shooting handheld then an assistant may not be required. This logic is similar to hiring a makeup artist. If you have a lot of portraits that need to look as good as they can, then you may save time in retouching by making sure people look great on the day of the shoot.

  • Even when you want a natural light and mood most shots will still most likely need lighting. Indoors lighting from ceiling fixtures will put shadows in eyes and needs to be balanced. Indoor lighting fixtures are often yellow or green in tone which our eyes automatically adjust for. Most of my lighting run cord free on batteries, however consider there is going to be some equipment needed for each shoot.

  • What time of day will work best for the location? Often this is determined by availability of talent, however the sun may play a major role in the result. For outdoor portraits you should discuss this with the photographer. Often I like to put the sun behind the subject to avoid harsh shadows and squinting eyes. Overcast days are easier to shoot in, however the sun brings out more colour and contrast which is often a better way to go. Harder to shoot, but often better.

  • Do you have a weather plan? If you need good weather consider doing a weather check a day or two before. This may also affect costs if cancelled without enough notice.

  • I always suggest to assign someone as a representative of the client to be at the shoot. Someone to oversee progress and co-ordinate talent, locations and staff. It's good be involved and have an input. I appreciate creative input also.

  • Shoot what you need. On larger shoots which are more complex I suggest to make a "must have" list and then a second "good to have" list. Photoshoots have many uncontrollable elements to them. So having a packaged schedule might seem like a good plan for your budget, but on the day you may find we need to think and act quickly as things may change.

  • When you are scheduling multiple location shoot, allow time to scout each location, choose an angle to shoot from and for lighting to be set up. All shots need some setup. A headshot against a white background could take about twenty minutes for example. Often for portraits on a background roll I am using at least four lights with light shapers. If we are moving around on location allow time for quick pack downs and set ups. Schedule time for moves between locations and a coffee break or lunch over a long shoot day ;) Pack down at the end the day should take about fifteen minutes.

  • A simple headshot per person should take about five to eight minutes with some variations shot, but allow wriggle room. A more devised shot in a specific location may take twenty to thirty minutes. An higher end advertising shot may take half a day to execute.

  • Send a brief to the talent in the shoot as to what to wear and a schedule for them to arrive on.


  • Your clothes will reflect the overall tone you are looking to set and should be well fitted and crease free.

  • Normally it's a good idea to avoid wearing busy patterns, 3rd party branding and avoid heavy/dark, light absorbing clothing like jumpers at all times.

  • White clothes can look punchy and fresh but be cautious that a bright white area will take the focus off the face and white can be tricky for outdoor and sunny shots.

  • This is a visual medium of course, so colour is important to help stand out. Try and add some colour in what you wear. This maybe a jacket, jewellery or a tie.

  • Consider shooting options such as jacket on/off, with/without tie etc. For multiple portraits you may want wardrobe changes to get more use out of the shots. Bring options as the chance to get more out of the photoshoot is on the shoot.

  • You might have requirements such as OHS, branding or uniforms that need to be considered and planned for ahead of time. Will having the wrong safety gear mean you can not use the shots?

  • Don't worry about covering over blemishes with heavy makeup as it's better to remove a spot in retouching and keep a natural look.

  • Hair is difficult to fix in retouching so please consider your hair before being photographed. Ideally a visit to the hairdresser a few days before.

  • I often fix face and neck wrinkles, yellowing or cracked teeth and areas that might have loosened up a little over the years. Often tummies and arms are thinned without any concerns. I'm happy to be directed if there is something physical you are concerned about. This is not the time to be shy as a good photo will last years.


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