Plan ahead! I always try to gather visual inspiration before a shoot. I remember when I shot my first wedding, I actually drew out all the photos I wanted to take and had such a plan organized that I never had a moment of wondering what was next. You don’t have to be that extreme but it’s helpful to have some screenshots of images that inspire you ready on your phone for those moments when you need a creative push. Just because you gather inspiration doesn’t mean you are copying, your photograph will always turn out differently. No one else can be in that moment in those conditions and so by its very nature it will be original. Another note on this is that it’s helpful to gather inspiration from people who are doing different things. For example, if you’re a fashion blogger, head to Vogue.com or to a beautiful classic coffee table book rather than other people’s blogs for additional inspiration!
Don’t take on too much. This one is critical and so hard to remember, especially if you have hired a photographer to shoot you for the day. It’s tempting to want to squeeze every outfit or idea for your new website into a short period of time, more bang for your buck, right? The thing is, it’s much better to do a few things well than to spread out and only have a few shots of many ideas. It’s probably really hard to follow, but I think that in this saturated market of small vendors, it’s particularly critical to keep quality high and to nail a few things. I remember when we were starting in the wedding industry feeling like every wedding was our one shot to get published and to make a name for ourselves. That pressure never helped. There will always be another shot, and there will be lots of bumps in the road, so take a deep breath and focus on a few great things!
Scout. You’re going to want to pick your locations ahead of time, or leave time to do it before your shooting starts. Look for a pretty backdrop, preferably in the shade but not in totally flat light, which brings me to….
Time of day! I know I always bang on about this one but it is SO important. Shoot early or late. Remember that in city settings, there will be an artificial sunset because of the buildings. In Charleston, our downtown is pretty low, but I still head down a few hours before sunset to make sure that we can grab that beautiful backlight which is so eye catching. If you’re going to be in an open setting, like on the beach or in a field, those last bits of light (15 minutes before sunset) and right after sunset are my absolute favorite, PURE magic!
Be prepared. This one might sound obvious but like gathering inspiration, it’s really critical to have all the things that you need for your shoot organized. For example, if we’re doing a shoot of a table setting, that means I have to organize everything from the table linens to the wine glasses, flowers to the candle sticks — there are a lot of moving pieces. If I am going to be in the shoot, I have to make sure I have a dress or something which makes me feel good so that I can relax and look natural. I recommend always having lipstick, mascara and blush on hand too. The camera makes it look like you aren’t wearing any makeup so I always wear more on shoot days!! It can be stressful to have all the shooting conditions just right and then realize you really needed to curl your hair, bring the forks or your memory card for your camera!!!!!!!! I hope that this helps!! xxx