Whether you take photos for a hobby or you are just at the beginning of your photography career, the world of briefs, specialised photography equipment and that all important studio venue sourcing can sometimes be daunting. Photoshoots might also be new to you because they aren’t part of your day-to-day job, perhaps they are only an adhoc part of your role and you need a reminder on the processes leading up to a photoshoot. This doesn’t have to be daunting, we’ve pulled together that all important photoshoot checklist, with the main things you need to consider pre-shoot, which will make your first shoot a breeze.

1. Before the shoot

As you are not used to the process of a photoshoot, before the shoot it is a good idea to come up with a detailed plan of what the shoot will consist of, what you want to achieve from the photoshoot and what your client expects from the shoot. Coming up with a detailed step by step guide of timings, destinations and the shoot processes before the day will then become invaluable on the day.

2. Pre-shoot plan

First things first, understanding why you are doing the photoshoot and want you want to gain from it is important. Determining the purpose of the shoot can be done by asking yourself a few of these questions: what is the purpose of the shoot? What is the intended use of the photos? Who is your defined target audience? What are the limitations of the shoot? Once these are determined creating mood boards allow you and your client to be crystal clear on the creative vision of the shoot, remember if you’re working for a client their creative vision may not be to your personal choice, but they’re the ones who are paying. Creating a mood board may sound like a lot of extra work, but for your first few initial shoots they might be helpful to aid your creative vision and guide the final outcome of your shoot, ultimately proving invaluable.

3. Venue

Next up on your photoshoot checklist, you want to find the perfect studio or shoot location that will help bring your vision to life. If it’s a photography studio you need, then be sure to check out all the facilities and equipment that might be included in the studio hire. If studio equipment isn’t included, you will need time to supply your own so make sure you find this out as soon as possible.
If you’re going for a concept that requires a really ‘out there’ or quirky backdrop then it’s less likely any equipment will be included – especially if it’s a venue that’s not primarily used for photo shoots. Be open with the events team and tell them what equipment you will be bringing and what your idea is so that they can help you work out the logistics of using their venue for a shoot. If you’re going to have lots of staff with you on the day then make sure your chosen venue can accommodate this. For example, you might need areas for hair and make-up artists to prep models – if so it’s best to pick a venue that has smaller break out areas which you can transform into make-up stations.
A white photo studio with photography equipment and big studio lights placed around.

4. Leading up to the shoot

Once you’ve confirmed the location, leading up to the day of your photoshoot there’s a few things you need to tick off your checklist. This may seem obvious and they’ll eventually become second nature but for now they are worth noting. If you’ve been hired by someone for this shoot, make sure you keep in regular contact with the client. Thank them for booking your services and confirm the date, time, location and meeting place for the shoot. Answer any last-minute questions they may have about wardrobe or any other factors of the day. If your shoot is outside, then keep your eye on the weather forecast! And make sure you have a bad weather back-up or rescheduling plan just in case.

5. Planning your shot list

Your shot list will be a collection of images, ideas, and setups you want to work through on the day of your photoshoot. Your shot list may take the form of a scrapbook or folder with photos and notes of roughly illustrated concepts or it may be a slideshow created online which you can easily scroll through on your laptop.  As well as taking inspiration from your original mood board, your shot list should contain enough go-to resources to fuel your entire photo shoot. Keep the shot list full of variety to show off your expert photography skills and add as much fun and artistic flair as possible. Start with some easy setups with simple poses and places so you get comfortable behind the camera.
A white walled photography studio with a red backdrop with black photography lights pointing towards it

6. Creating a schedule

Planning your shoot agenda will make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible is perhaps the most important point on your photography checklist. You don’t want to waste any time – especially if you only have limited access to the venue. So, plan ahead, check all your equipment is working and ready to go before the shoot date and prep any staff that might be working with you. This includes models, assistants, photographers or make-up artists – if everyone is briefed on the agenda for the day then it should help to stick to a timeline. If possible, you should try to organise a practice shoot. If not, perhaps hiring the venue or studio for an extra hour or so wouldn’t be a bad idea as this will allow you to come in early and play around with the lighting and equipment beforehand so you don’t waste any time once the shoot is underway.
If you haven’t picked up your camera in a while, do a dry run through all your equipment you’ll be using on the day. Take as many test shots as you want in the lead up to the shoot, to check that everything is working as it should be on the day. If it’s possible, try to visit the photography studio beforehand at a similar time the shoot is booked for. This will help you work out what the lighting will be like on the day as well as the setup of the shoot location. It’ll also help you feel more familiar with your surroundings and will make the shoot more fluid on the day. If you are not used to a creating a photoshoot schedule these extra steps will make sure you are fully prepared for the big day.

7. Lighting

Now that you’ve planned everything else, planning your lighting techniques is next up on your photoshoot checklist. Even if you are only planning on using natural light you may still need a scrim or reflector. Light is imperative for a photoshoot there are a few things you need to consider such as; where will you be photographing the subject from; will it be from a vantage point up high or from down below? Will the strength of the sun effect what lenses you use- will you need a wide angle or speciality lenses for example? Importantly, always make sure you have enough batteries.
We mention lighting in our photoshoot checklist because we know how important it is to have good photography and good lighting or knowing how to create good lighting is a big factor in this. Every shoot is different but make sure you consider lighting in great detail.
An underground large archway with a big photography white background

8. The day before the shoot

The vital thing to remember is to make sure all equipment is charged, clean and ready for the shoot. Creating a photography studio equipment list on your photography checklist is paramount.  Pack an emergency spare battery or memory card just in case, as well as lenses, tripods or any other back up equipment you might need for the shoot. Go back over your mood board, shot list and any notes you’ve made regarding this shoot to make sure you’re 100% clear on what you’re doing on the day. Know your photoshoot checklist like the back of your hand. You should also read over the agenda and brief one more time too! Just in case. Create an inventory checklist – so you know exactly what you’re bringing so you don’t leave anything behind. Make sure you know how to get to the shoot location as well as checking the weather one final time, that way you’ll know if you need to make any last-minute adjustments.

9. Post photoshoot

Sieving through the photos post shoot is one of the most exciting things about a photoshoot, all your hard work has paid off. So, enjoy selecting your favourites and your clients faces and enjoy the gratitude they have for you. You’ve done it, hopefully this will be your first of many shoots.
Good luck and happy snapping. If you need to find a photography studio venue in London, take a look at our top picks here