How to prepare for a photoshoot

Do you have a photoshoot coming up? Here’s how best to prepare to ensure you get the most out of it.

People book photoshoots for all manner of reasons; professional shots, family portraits, a celebration of a family member’s big birthday that is coming up.  

Whatever your motivation you want to make the most of the experience and get images you will treasure. To help you, Emeka Ikechi, Director of Vanity Studios, shares her tips on how you can get the best from your photoshoot.

What is the aim of the photoshoot you’re preparing for?

You may well be paying a lot of money for your photoshoot, so it’s important to know what you want the resulting shots to look like.

Is it a professional headshot for your business, for example? Will it be used on your company website, your LinkedIn profile, printed marketing materials?

Think about this and then decide what you want the images to say about you. If you have a small consultancy business for example, you’ll likely want to get professional photos taken in and around your local area. If you are a designer you may want to take a less serious approach and instead try something more colourful or unusual.

Alternatively, you may be having a family shoot done. Again, how do you want your pictures to look when you have them on the wall at home? Do you want a formal shot or one where you are all having a good time together? Or you may just want a really great picture of yourself looking your absolute best. On a photoshoot you can mix and match.

If you have a particular look or looks in mind, bring a photo from a magazine to illustrate it so the studio can get it right.

Bring a selection of clothing with you to the shoot

Now you have in mind the kind of shots you want, pick a selection of clothes that will help you achieve that look. We recommend bringing several changes of clothes and ones you can mix and match to create different looks. Four “looks” is a good number to work towards. 

On a very practical level, with head shots particularly, try not to wear anything that is too similar to your skin tone, as you are in danger of blending into your outfit and, conversely, don’t wear anything too patterned as it’s distracting.

If you are having a family shot or, perhaps, mother and daughter, co-ordinate to make sure your outfits work together. I don’t mean you all wear the same things – unless you really want to. And avoid wearing the same colours.

But if you are planning a dressy shot, make sure you all have smart clothes and similarly-styled dresses. You don’t want to have the whole family formal, apart from the one person who only brought jeans! 

Pick some accessories for your shoot

Much like the clothes, ensure you have plenty of accessories to match your outfits and help towards the shot you want to achieve. Some understated jewellery for the business shot maybe, but big, bold earrings for your fun shots. 

Props can be a plus

These are slightly less useful for the corporate-style shots, although if you have a hero product that might work in a shot or two, it’s worth considering. Of course, if your product is something you wear or use that makes it easier to fit into your pictures.

Remember to have some shots that are just you, with no promotion. There will be times when you want to use a headshot without looking too salesy.

Props work really well with family shoots, particularly if you share a common interest; tennis dresses/shirts and a racket, for example. Or if you’re a family of bookworms, perhaps you could all bring your favourite book for a casually-styled photo.

With smaller children, props are a great idea. It’s always good to have something they can play with. If they have a particular favourite toy, perhaps a cuddly stuffed animal that they absolutely must have at bedtime or a doll or train that they can’t leave home without – bring them along.

It’s okay to wear glasses on your photoshoot

People often worry about wearing glasses in photographs. However, glare is seldom an issue – remember these are professional photographers who know how to get the angle and lighting right.

For some people, glasses are very much part of their identity and others may need them but prefer how they look without, so it’s very much a personal choice. What we tend to do is take poses both with and without glasses and when the shoot is over you can choose which pictures you prefer.

Why hair and makeup are so important

I would highly recommend that you choose a studio that include hair and makeup, but a lot of family and corporate photographers don’t, so make sure you check. And if they don’t include hair and makeup, ask them for guidance as to how you should prepare before you arrive.

If you come to a studio where these are part of the package, we advise arriving with clean hair that has no styling products in and no makeup. That way the stylists can start with a blank canvas and create the look you want.

We do suggest you have makeup applied for the shoot, as the lighting is pretty strong, so you could look washed out without any. However, you can choose to look very natural or have heavy makeup or anything in between.

If you have a particular look you want to create, again, bring along a picture or magazine cutting to illustrate what you want. If you’re not 100% sure, the artists can advise you and work with you to get you looking just perfect!

Men should also arrive with clean, non-styled hair and, for the shoot, we do suggest at least having some powder applied because of the lighting and to mask blemishes.

Some men will want more than others, again depending on who you are and what you want to achieve, but it is completely optional and the makeup artists will work with you to ensure you get the look you really want.

Choosing the right shots from your shoot

The photographer will take a lot – and I mean a lot – of pictures. So, at the end of the shoot, there will be an enormous number of images to choose from.

Generally, studios will have a “viewer”; someone specifically assigned to go through the shots with you and help you choose the right ones. Remember what it is was you wanted in the first place and be sure you have those shots ordered – it’s crucial you leave with what you wanted in the first place. You may also find there are other shots that you really love and these are a real bonus from your experience.

Enjoy the process from start to finish

Your photoshoot should be fun! Often our clients are very nervous when they arrive, and may hate having their photo taken. They are the corporate person who would prefer to remain anonymous or the parent who is always behind the camera and never in front of it. If you choose the right studio you will be helped to relax and enjoy the experience.

We offer Prosecco on arrival and the whole process is very comfortable. Good studios will have great makeup artists and hair stylists. The photographers are highly experienced and give a lot of direction; they will advise you on where to stand, how to sit, which angle to put your head at, where to look, etc.

There’s lots of chat and direction and we find that even those who are not used to taking instruction enjoy being guided by the professionals.

When you trust your photoshoot team, have some clarity around the photographs you want to achieve you will get some wonderful images – one you’ll happily use for business and want to share with your family and friends.  

So, taking all of this into account, I do hope you book that shoot or look forward to the one in your diary more than you might have been doing until now. It will be a lot of fun and you’ll have wonderful pictures to use and share.

Emeka Ikechi is Director of Vanity Studios, a contemporary studio for photoshoots in the centre of Shoreditch in London.

Since 2009 Vanity Studios has been providing clients with high quality professional photos and an excellent photoshoot experience. The team of photographers and make-up artists ensure each client receives bespoke photography that meets their requirements.