Everything you need to know to prepare for a photoshoot the blogger edition

Content, content, content. One of the most important, if not the most important, aspect of any blog and social media profile. Still struggling with creating great content? You are not alone my friend. Today I am focusing on one aspect of content creation – preparing for a photoshoot.

I first began doing shooting my outfits sometime in 2016 and let me tell ya.. none of those photos are displayed on my instagram today. It was a disaster to say the least *facepalm*. I didn’t know what I was doing and in hindsight, of course I didn’t! It was something I’d never done before. Which is why I’m writing the blog post I wish I found when I was starting out.

Let me give you an idea of how bad it was for your amusement. I went through a lot of umm “not so great” photographers.

I didn’t know what to look for in a photographer, so as long as you had a camera I was down to shoot. Kinda like that awkward blind date your friend sets up to help you get over your ex..yeah. But that’s not the end of it. No my friends, there’s more…

I was naive and uneducated, but you know what? It got better! My content started improving because I did my due diligence to find out how I could improve my content and photoshoots. If you feel like you’ve hit a wall and are dissatisfied with your content or simply don’t even know where to start, I’m going to walk you through exactly how I prepare for my a photoshoot.

Choosing the right photographer is critical to the quality of your content. The process of finding “the one” should not be rushed. While you can find great photographers on Craigslist or Yelp, I’d highly recommend Instagram. This will allow you to see the quality of their work straight away.

Ahh, the power of a little hashtag. To best filter your results, search for location based hashtags. For example, if you live in San Francisco I would recommend searching “#SFPhotographers” or “#BayAreaPhotographers” for wider results. Most photographers want to be found by a relevant audience and know they can do so by indicating their location.

Spend some time to look through the photography accounts that you find. Most photographers will have a link to their site where you can further explore their portfolio and photoshoot prices. A lot of them also have blogger packages now. What do I look for in a photographer?

• Posing – This is huge for me. If I notice that their clients look awkward or uncomfortable, it’s really difficult to get past this for me. Either the photographer doesn’t know much about posing or the client is posing awkwardly and the photographer didn’t notice. Neither is a good situation to be in. I want a photographer who is attentive to detail (i.e. please let me know if my bra strap is saying hello or if I have a strand of hair that decided to have its own party).

• Editing – Another critical factor. I want to do as minimal editing as I possibly can because more likely than not, editing costs are already tacked on to the overall price of the shoot. And also because time is money. Observe the overall editing style (tones, brightness, contrast, etc). It’s not rocket science to tell when an image is too bright or to contrasted. Their editing style again reveals their attention to detail.

Find the best way to contact them (usually email or DM) and inquire about their prices if they are not listed on their site. Typically, I like to work with two photographers at any given time. This will create consistency in your images which results in a cohesive feed. Why two photographers? In case one is busy 😉

• What is the turn-around time to receive your images? Typically I expect to wait no longer than 1 week. Of course there may be some unavoidable emergencies and I’m understanding of that. Knowing this information will help you plan your content as well.

• When do you have to pay? Most photographers are OK with you paying after the shoot or paying a small deposit up front. I prefer this option because it reduces risk for both parties. I have never paid the full amount up-front and I would avoid doing that if it’s your first time working with that photographer.

• Lastly, I set my expectations up-front. I will not tolerate working with someone who is unreliable and fails to meet the expectations we agreed upon. Most photographers will send you a contract with terms and agreements. If it’s not stated in the contract, I record (in writing) that I am eligible for a refund if they fail to meet their end of our agreement. This might sound a little extreme but who will cover your arse if not you?

• Theme/mood – what is the theme/mood that you want to convey? Perhaps you want to feel Parisian so you scout for baroque or Victorian architecture (tres chic). Maybe you like the city/urban style and opt for the busy streets of San Francisco. You can enjoy a foamy cappuccino at a quaint little coffee shop for a vintage lifestyle shoot. The overall vibe that you want to exude is the most essential piece to consider when selecting a location.

• Cohesiveness – think about your current feed (or what you want your feed to look like). Does this location fit in with the overall theme of your feed? For example, maybe your theme is bright, fun and colorful or maybe it’s muted neutral tones; does this location fit in with your theme? Having consistent backdrops will make your content look cleaner and more appealing.

• Permission – If you are planning to have your photoshoot at a business (such as a coffee shop), you or your photographer should call in advance to ask for permission to shoot. Most places have graciously allowed us to shoot and, in exchange, I will usually purchase a coffee which makes for a great prop anyway!

• Hours of operation – if you are planning to shoot at a business, check their hours of operation (pretty obvious right?). Also, try to shoot when they are least busy. For the coffee shop example, I would avoid going early morning or during lunch hour. If you go during non-peak hours you are more likely to find seating and get that super cute window shot. Not sure what I’m talking about? Peep Adrienne Bailon’s adorable window shot:

If you plan to shoot outdoors, check the weather! The last thing you want is to do a photoshoot in a mini skirt only to be engulfed by a thunder storm. Or be like me, shooting a winter outfit in November only to realize it’s still 80 degrees in San Jose (it made for a good laugh, after I sweat my pits off of course). If it’s sunny, I recommend shooting early mornings 7-9am or during golden hours 5-7pm to avoid harsh light. You have more flexibility with timing if the weather is overcast. However, take note of foggy weather or even light sprinkling. Personally, extreme fog and brisk weather make my hair frizzy, so I either avoid shooting at that time or plan to pull my hair back if I don’t have a choice. Outfit Styling

Ahh, my favorite part of the process. And quite frankly, usually the hardest! Styling is not just throwing outfits together. You want to make sure they align with the story you are telling. I am still continually improving in this area, but here are a few things to consider: Picking your outfits

• Go back to the theme you selected when you chose your location. You want to style outfits that are appropriate for that theme/story. For example, I recently did a photoshoot at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. It’s a beautiful location that allows me to visit France at a fraction of the cost (San France-cisco as I like to call it 😉 ). Below are some images from the photoshoot. It wouldn’t have felt as “Parisian” if I wore a black leather mini dress and stilettos. I try to treat every photoshoot as a mini story. If you like simple backdrops then you might not have to do as much brainstorming in this area.

• Do not, I repeat, DO NOT wait until the day of to pick your outfits! I hate being rushed and the times when I am rushed I end up being unhappy with the outfits I styled. I try to pick my outfits 3 days in advance. Sometimes I will put an outfit together and then hate it the next day! Allowing myself a few days prevents me from styling outfits that I will later dislike, which is a waste of time and money.

• Another reason to style your outfits in advance is that sometimes you hit a wall. There’s been days when my mind just blanks out and I cannot dress myself properly lol. As a result, I end up shooting less content or putting together outfits that aren’t really “me”. If I allow myself a couple of days, I can take a step back and go on Pinterest for inspiration if I hit a wall. If you’re in need of inspiration, follow me on Pinterest. I have a ton of fashion inspiration stored up for a rainy day.

• After you select your outfits I would recommend playing around with different hairstyles to see which makes the outfit look best. For example, I have found that when I wear turtlenecks I prefer to pull my hair back. However, when I wear blazers I like to have my hair down.

• Additionally, try out a couple of poses in the mirror or have a few poses in mind that you’d like to shoot in that particular outfit. You don’t have a mirror when you are shooting, so getting an idea of which poses look best beforehand is super helpful. This will also prevent you from looking like a stiff scarecrow.

• Y’all… when I first started creating content I would literally only shoot one outfit at a time. I’m embarrassed. How inefficient! Later I learned that most bloggers shoot a bulk of their outfits at once. This makes total sense. If you don’t have a lot of time to do hair and makeup everyday, then it’s important to take advantage of the days you do put in the effort. I try to shoot 3-4 outfits/hour and usually do 2 hour blocks. Tip: switch up easy things like your hairstyle or lipstick color to give the illusion that your content was shot on different days. And of course, use an array of different backdrops. 🙂

Whew! Almost there y’all, final stretch. The final step is editing your content. Typically your photographer will do basic editing before providing you with your images. Some photographers will ask if you have any special requests for editing, such as removing tattoos or blemishes. Make sure they are not charging you extra for this if you don’t want to pay. I never assume anything being offered is free. Editing your Images

The best way to have a cohesive feed is by editing your photos the same way each time. For this reason, I ask my photographers to provide me with raw images that have only been slightly retouched. If they alter the tones too much it makes it harder for me to achieve the same color scheme as the rest of my photos. Additionally, I would recommend only using one filter on all your images, two at most.

I hope this information was useful! I try to provide the blogging tips I wish I knew when I was first getting started. There is still so much to share on the post photoshoot process (how to edit your photos, editing apps, planning your feed, posting at optimal times, etc), but I will have to save that for another post. Or maybe even create a mini e-book/e-course so I can get more granular with each step of the process.


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