How to Plan a Photoshoot That Will Get a Ton of Client Content

When it comes to planning and executing a client photoshoot, there is often a lot of pressure to generate as much content as possible in a limited timeframe. Going into the photoshoot, it’s important to have a plan that outlines your needs for the appropriate set, props, background, and models to ensure you’re making the most of your client’s budget and time. If this seems like a lot to consider, we hear you and we’re here to help. Given that in a client photoshoot setting, you may only have one opportunity to get the content you need for the next months (or sometimes, years!), we’re sharing some tips and tricks to keep you on track.

Here’s a snapshot–no pun intended–of key considerations, and what to do before, during, and after your photoshoot to get all of the content you need.

Key considerations to help you plan your photoshoot thoughtfully.   

Respecting our clients is at the core of everything we do. This is no different in a photoshoot setting – and that’s why we plan our photoshoots with thought and care. There are three key considerations to keep in mind as you start your photoshoot planning process:

  1. Cost. As the famous saying goes, “time is money!” And in an agency setting, our client’s budgets are something we consult each and every day to ensure we’re tracking every cent being spent. Photoshoots tend to be a bigger line item in a budget, and therefore, are something planned ahead of time when entering a new fiscal year. In order to make sure your budget is spent wisely in a photoshoot setting, it’s important to go into the photoshoot with a plan. Your budget should account for the models you need to hire, the props you need to buy, the venue you need in order to take all the appropriate shots, and how you are going to spend your time so that every dollar spent is spent with a goal in mind: getting the content you need to market your client’s business effectively.
  2. Time. If time is money, then it’s important to manage your time appropriately in a client photoshoot. In order to do this, you have to plan ahead. We recommend having a list of the content you’re looking to create so you can move through the photoshoot with intention and purpose. Organize your shot list to outline your backgrounds, props, models, and products in a fluid way to ensure time is maximized and your batched content shoot is a success.
  3. Content use. When outlining your client photoshoot plan, thinking of all the ways you may use this content is arguably the most important step. Part of your shot list should outline how the content will be used. By having this information going into the shoot, you can make sure all loose ends are tied up and you don’t have a “what if” moment after the shoot for a shot you missed.

Now that you have these important pieces in mind, let’s dive into actually planning your shoot.

Before the photoshoot: planning mode.

As you start to plan your photoshoot to maximize the amount of content you get, it’s important to think through your goals, what you’ll need, and the shots you want to get. Start by:

  • Determining your vision. A successful client photoshoot starts with inspiration and a vision. If you’re having trouble figuring out what you want to shoot, try looking on Pinterest and Instagram or coloring in a sketchbook to get your ideas out, stimulate your imagination, and develop some shot list inspiration. These images or drawings can be used to create a mood board that will convey what you want to achieve in the shoot, and help your client recognize your vision so it can come to life.
  • Creating a shot list. A shot list is a document that maps out everything that will happen, by describing what each shot should have in it, the models needed, what products you want to shoot and when, etc. Can you shoot more than one brand/client at a time? Can you reuse materials in different shots? Your shot list will answer these questions and will serve as a checklist, keeping you on track and providing the shoot with a sense of direction. No detail is too granular for a shot list – the who, what, when, where, why, and how may seem like overkill when creating it, but will be helpful the day of the shoot.
  • Shopping for materials. While on the subject of *lists*, it’s also helpful to generate a list of materials you’ll need on set. From props to food to ingredients, outlining all of the materials you need to bring your shot list to life is helpful and allows you to shop for everything you need ahead of time. When making this list, consider the types of backgrounds you’ll need. Can you shoot the same scene on different backgrounds? Remember that a background can speak to different seasons and give photos a varied feel. Once you have this list, head to the store(s)!
  • Asking the client about sensitivities. As a marketer, you will often be shooting multiple brands at one time – this goes for products AND props. If this is the case for your photoshoot, always make sure that the products can be shown together and that there is no conflict of interest for your client. For example, if you are working with an ice cream brand and showcasing milkshake ingredients, make sure the milk brand you’re featuring works with the ice cream brand you’re shooting for. Good to ask ahead and avoid the issue rather than having to edit things out later.

Photoshoot day: getting the shot.

Today’s the day…lights, camera, action! On photoshoot day, you’ll want to shoot in high resolution to ensure your shots pick up every nuance of the photos you’re taking. From there, taking the following into consideration will help you achieve your vision for the shoot:

  • During setup… make sure to take pictures of your setup process. For example, if you’re working with food, take photos of the set prior to adding the food. Have an idea of where other materials (e.g., a place setting) will go so it’s easier to find the right spot for your featured dish. Taking shots while you style will also give you the opportunity to work through getting the perfect shot and will give you more image options to shuffle through once the shoot is complete.
  • As you shoot…Now it’s time to put all these pieces together and get the shot! During your shoot, experiment with different angles, lighting, and styling pieces. When experimenting with angles/vicinity, make sure to try wide angle, close-up, macro, horizontal/vertical, and empty space (to leave room for marketing copy). By playing around with different types of angles, you may discover a new perspective on the product or feature you hadn’t considered before. The same goes for lighting – whether it’s daylight or moody, darker lighting, playing with the light helps you discover unique combinations that make the picture pop. Lastly, when it comes to changing out styling pieces, play with backdrops, linens, glassware, or even layers on the model.
    • Pro-tip: When working with models, be sure to get a variety of shots, including portraits, full body, jewelry shots, shoe shots, etc. The same goes with working with food – get shots of each ingredient or aspect of the food (e.g., drinks with a straw or without, toppings layered one at a time, ice cream on a spoon vs. in a dish or in a cone, etc.) All of this should be outlined on your shot list so you can move through the shot varieties with ease.
  • After each shot list item is completed…And you thought you were done! After you’ve shot a decent amount of content for that part of the shot list, you should also consider getting some pictures of you deconstructing the set before moving onto the next shot. For example, if you’re working with food, take a bite or two of the food and shoot that, even the leftovers and crumbs. Remember, sometimes imperfect shots can be beautiful and more compelling! If you’re working with a model, try styling the clothes differently –maybe remove a jacket and throw it over their shoulders? Trying out different styles can help you have variety when it comes editing time.

Concluding your photoshoot: make your selects.

At the end of your photoshoot, if you’re doing it right, you’ll likely have hundreds (maybe even thousands) of shots to bring back to the office and edit. It may seem like a lot to cull through, but you’ll be happy you have dozens of shots of the same thing from different angles when all is said and done. Trust us on this one. After you have finally made your selects, make sure to keep the original files of those selects on hand. What works for the brand right now may change in the future. By keeping your original selects, you’ll have more options to choose from when the time comes.

Need some help planning your next photoshoot? We’re here to help. Get in touch to learn about our in-house photo and project management capabilities to make sure you’re getting the content you need within the budget you have available.


About Ethos

Ethos is a multiplatform branding agency that develops and executes integrated marketing campaigns across multiple channels for companies throughout the Northeast and beyond. At Ethos, we believe that the most effective way to set a company’s marketing course is by finding its core truth – it’s ethos. We know that once we discover and communicate that core truth, we can truly make a difference to each client’s unique marketing and business objectives. With Ethos, you get more than a Maine branding agency. You get a long-term partner whose goals are your goals.

Learn more about the Ethos approach and the work we’ve done for our clients. Want to have a conversation about your brand’s core truth? Contact us!