How to organise a photoshoot

Coming into the profession with no background in photography has never really bothered me. Nevertheless, there are a lot of things that the internet, university or workshops can’t teach you.  The one thing that has taken me the longest to master is the organisation of a commercial photoshoot. This is how to organise a photoshoot.

Thankfully, when I started out most of my jobs were pretty small. However, as I progressed I started to come into some bigger commissions that were a tad more complex.

How to organise a photoshoot
On set at a photoshoot in my studio

For this example, I am going to go through one of my most common bookings. Some shoots are shorter and easier and others last weeks and are far more complicated.

So we are looking at the 1 day advertisement shoot. In this instance, we will assume it is clothing, and this is how they generally pan out…

An Email/Phone call is received from either the client directly or via the advertisement agency they are using for the campaign. This usually goes along the lines of ” We have an opportunity, this is the client, this is the style. Does this interest you?” Once I have established if it is something that I want to do and if I am a good fit for the client, we discuss dates for both the shoot and the delivery.

I spend a lot of time here doing admin each week.

The next point of contact is a meeting in person or via skype. This will often include the client, the agency and the creative director as well as people from accounts etc all discussing exactly what they want. I am usually on hand to offer advice on how decisions will impact budget and time.

Discussing shoot options

Once all of the above is agreed in principle, I build a shoot brief document and deliver my contract with my terms and conditions as well as the licences for the images. The shoot brief is the document that is used throughout the remainder of the process. It is a living document that we constantly update. In this example it would have:

Address of my studio and my contact details.

Contact details for everyone involved in the shoot

Arrival times for each person on the day as well as timings for hair, make up, wardrobe and shooting time.

Final images required for delivery

Mood Board

and literally anything else that can be of use (food intolerance, information about lunch breaks and times that certain people may need to leave by.)

The day before the shoot I usually check in with everyone to make sure nothing has changed and that everything on the brief form is correct. When I have a shoot the day before, I then reset the studio to save time on the day of the shoot. It is the little  things like making sure the lightroom catalogue is ready, everything is charged, the right lighting modifiers are prepared and that we have the right paper already in place for the background.


The above can often take up to a month to arrange, although it can be put together with 24 hours notice when required for last min jobs.

On the day of the shoot, I usually have a 9am start, which sees me arrive at the studio at about 7:30 am to read through all the documentation and to get myself in the right frame of mind. After this the models, hair, and make up usually arrive next, followed by wardrobe, stylists and the client. The hair and make up changes need to be carefully timed around shooting to be sure that we have no dead time.


During the shoot I tether to a machine so the creative director and client can see what is going on throughout the shoot and offer any advice on changes. At the end of the day everyone heads off at around 6pm, when my assistants will start packing down. During this process I start the back ups,  to 3 hard drives (2 go off site) and to a cloud. During the shoot the creative director will have made their selections for processing.



I tend to have days that are specifically set aside for processing the images. Simple edits are done by myself, although I do employ an editor for very complex processes as it is not my area.


I then deliver the images to the client via a server and send the invoice for the shoot. This is usually followed up with a debrief over the phone to be sure that everything has been delivered exactly how they wanted it.

And that’s it. How to organise a photoshoot for one of my average sized bookings.

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