Over the years, we’ve received countless questions on the topic of photo shoots. Where do you shoot them? Who shoots your photos? Where do you change? How do you manage to shoot in the winter when it gets dark before you even get home from work? What about when its freezing? Snowing? How often should you shoot? How do you get enough content? Do you plan outfits in advance?
The list goes on and on! And for good reason–it’s a topic that has a pretty steep learning curve. I mean, it’s hard enough just learning how to use the camera–not to mention figuring out when, where, and how to coordinate a photo shoot!
Here are some tips that will help you plan and organize your shoots like a pro:
This is the #1 most effective tip that I can offer–batch, batch, batch!
Essentially, you don’t want to just shoot one-off things, but rather, shoot as much as you can in one sitting. Reserve an hour each Saturday afternoon to shoot four outfits, for example.
Or, if you’re a beauty vlogger, record three beauty tutorials at once. (Maybe a makeup look, followed by a hair look (because your makeup will already be done), followed by a beauty Q&A (because then your hair AND makeup will be done) for example!)
Perhaps you’re a food blogger–you can cook two recipes at once, shoot those, and then figure out how to get more content out of those recipes. For example, say a recipe calls for onions–can you shoot a few photos of you chopping onions for a technique style post? Are you making Eggs Benedict? Why don’t you do a separate post on how to poach an egg? If you plan ahead, there is so much more you could be getting out of your batch shooting time. (Speaking of planning ahead, we’ll move on to that below!)
Batch shooting is also the best way to take advantage of the daylight when the days get shorter. Sadly, there is no artificial alternative for daylight. So, rather than rushing home to squeeze in one quick shoot three days per week, just set aside an hour on the weekend to shoot those things all at once instead. Not only is this way less stressful, but your photos are prettier (because they’re well lit with natural light) and it’s also a much better use of your time, because again, it allows you to set yourself up to batch edit those photos you just shot, and batch-write those posts! Think of it like an assembly line. There’s a reason assembly lines are so widely used in factories–they’re super efficient!
Set aside time to plan the shoot:
You know that saying (I think I’ve mentioned it here on BFK a few different times!) If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Honestly, I didn’t even KNOW it was a thing to plan ahead for photoshoots for a long time. I would just pull something out of my closet, run out the door, and wander around until I found a good place to take pictures.
Needless to say, the fly by the seat of your pants method doesn’t work that well in this scenario–it leads to a lot of wasted time (and very cranky boyfriends/husbands/friends who you’re trying to coerce into taking your photos). The more experience I got, the more I learned that just setting aside 30 minutes to an hour to plan out all the details will save you a LOT of time. Brainstorm what you’ll be shooting like you brainstorm your post topics themselves.
So–what exactly do you plan out? How do you keep yourself organized? That brings me to my next point…
Develop an organizational method that works for you:
Everyone is different! What works for you doesn’t always work for the next person, but personally, when I’m planning my outfits, I like to try everything on ahead of time (because outfits might sound good in your head, and not look good on–you don’t want to be trying to change outfits while your photographer is tapping her toe, and as you know, time is money!) When I decide on an outfit combination I love, I take a photo of it on me in the mirror so I can remember everything correctly.
Then, the day of the shoot, I’ll lay everything out either in piles or on hangers, so I have all the clothing for one shoot on one hanger. This is especially helpful if you’re shooting out and about!
I also create a board in Trello for things I need to shoot, so I don’t get through a whole shoot and at the end remember, “oh no! I was supposed to use this bag!” for example. If you don’t have Trello, I’d highly recommend it! Blair got me hooked–it’s free and it’s so easy!
Pick locations in advance:
This also comes with planning ahead. Honestly, this is something I still struggle with, and it can be harder or easier really depending on where you live.
For example, my neighborhood is a lot less…picturesque than others in Chicago. It’s grittier and more urban–which can be cool for some bloggers, but isn’t necessarily on brand for me, so it requires a bit of planning. Remember, your photo backgrounds define your brand just as much as your editing style or what you wear. It’s important to go out of your way to plan these in advance (even though it’s tempting to just stand at the end of the driveway!)
Bearing this in mind, it’s REALLY helpful for me to keep a running list of photo shoot locations you can refer back to, so you aren’t aimlessly wandering, and having to settle for a location you don’t like simply because you got frustrated! This is also helpful if it gets too cold to shoot outside (although, 99% of the time I just grin and bear it.) Pretty, well-lit hotel lobbies and coffee shops are both good alternatives.
Another tricky part of picking locations is finding a place to change–I’ve done this before in coffee shop bathrooms, restaurants–usually it’s in the back of my photographer’s car if she has one. Make sure you have a game-plan with where you can change in advance, as sometimes this can eat up a lot of time during your shoot.
One more thing: I just got this pop-up changing tent on Amazon that will allow you to change anywhere, and I am REALLY excited to give it a whirl soon, haha!
If you’re not a fashion blogger, you might struggle with backgrounds in a different way–these backgrounds on Etsy work really great for food shots and flatlays! Ordering a few of these can help keep things interesting and cohesive at the same time! (Especially if you don’t have a fancy marble table or counter to shoot on!)
Set a time limit:
This tip really, really helps. Especially if your shooting partner is another blogger, it’s easy to get carried away and want to take a bajillion photos, taking WAY longer than is actually necessary. Look at the shots you’re getting on your camera as you go–once you’ve gotten what you need–move on. There’s no need to get 20 different shots of the same angle! If you have a time limit, it will keep you on task and moving swiftly through the shoot, thus, allowing you to accomplish a lot more!
Find a reliable shooting partner or photographer:
Speaking of shooting partners, they’re not exactly easy to come by, are they? Most likely, when you first start out, you’ll willingly throw your camera to anyone who with a heartbeat is willing and able at a given moment to help you shoot something. While this is always good to have in a pinch, it’s not exactly a sustainable model.
Instead, do as much networking as you can to make friends with other bloggers in your circle! (Pop into our Blogging For Keeps BFF’s Facebook group and ask if there are any bloggers in your area! Chances are, they’re looking for someone to help them take photos, too!)
You can also hire a photographer, if that’s within your budget. For reference, here in Chicago, most blog shoots will set you back about $75-$85 per hour (which includes photo editing as well, and as many shoots as you can fit within that specific time frame.)
More ideas: Reach out to your local college to see if they have any photography students who are looking to build their portfolio. Or, find a photographer who is maybe looking to swap services–do you do graphic design? Maybe she’s looking for someone to help with her website. If you get creative, you can usually find a solution!