7 Pro Tips for Producing a Styled Photo Shoot

MUAH & Airbrush Tan: Black Hearts Beauty AZ Photography by Emily Rudolph   Models: Jen, Sydney W. & Sydney C. Behind-The-Scenes Photography: Katie Silverman

MUAH & Airbrush Tan: Black Hearts Beauty AZ
Photography by Emily Rudolph

Models: Jen, Sydney W. & Sydney C.
Behind-The-Scenes Photography: Katie Silverman

Hey there! Happy Monday.

Today I want to do a quick blog post on how to plan a successful styled photoshoot. Styled photo shoots are often used to stage weddings however, they can be useful to a variety of creative industry professionals who are looking to showcase their skills in a realistic setting. Styled shoots are also fabulous networking opportunities as they offer a chance to connect with focused, like-minded makers while building a team that inspires and motivates you. 

Okay, here we go! Below I've broken down what I believe to be the top 7 areas to cover when planning a styled photo shoot and what that means for you.


1. Objective


Establish an objective for your photo shoot. What are you looking to promote, highlight or bring together? Do you have a particular vision in mind already? For example, if you are a professional makeup artist who also offers airbrush tanning services, the objective of this shoot would be to show off your skills through a display of your services. Now, let's dial this in a bit... Are you looking mainly to promote your makeup artistry or your airbrush tanning? If your answer is both, that's totally fine! Consider though that the style of one vision may compete with another so, be careful to visualize how this dual objective will align with the setting, wardrobe, and theme of this production. In regards to the example I used before, you most likely wouldn't showcase heavy, old Hollywood makeup with a summer-styled bikini shoot. Simplify. Tackle one piece of your vision at a time. 


2. Location

Now comes the fun part. Once you've decided on an objective for your photo shoot, it's time to choose a location. Start by coming up with a list of possible venues for your shoot. This could be anything from a lush corner of your backyard nearby landscapes or buildings that catch your eye. Is there a particular location or two that inspire you most? What steps would it take for you to secure such a location? Work your way down your venue list; chances are you'll nail something down rather quickly if you're resourceful! Once secured, you can really get down to business by choosing a team, date and assembling a shot list for your styled production. This would also be a good time to begin thinking about props offered at your location, or things your team-to-be can bring along. 


3. Team & Styling


By now, you've probably begun considering who will make up the necessary roles in this production team. Besides yourself, you'll definitely need models (how many will depend on the objective we talked about before), a photographer, makeup artist, hair stylist and possibly a wardrobe stylist, set stylist, creative director, production assistant, etc. The scale of this is entirely up to you and is dependent on the size and schedule of the production at hand. Maybe start off by deciding on a wardrobe theme and overall style for your photo shoot. You should now have a good idea of what it is you are trying to achieve and will be able to hand-select possible collaborators accordingly, paying special attention to their brand voice and willingness to work together in a fast-paced, collaborative environment. The more makers you have involved, the more people that benefit. Meaning that more people will be willing to put forth valuable effort into bringing your vision to life if you plan the event accordingly.


4. Shot List


Now is where it is 100% okay (encouraged even) to obsess, to comb, to unleash your inner Beyoncé-directing-a-new-hit-video. Let it out. Get that vision. Make shit happen. You'll be surprised how people flock to your creative energy once it is truly unleashed. Follow that, but stay focused. Use this time to organize a specific shot list. You don't have to have a certain number of shots or even enough to fill the allotted time for your shoot. Just worry about the shots you absolutely need to meet the objective you initially set for this production. Anything beyond that will be totally improvised and often, that is where the real magic happens. Once you've got your shots listed out, comb through that list once more taking note of any wardrobe pieces, props, jewelry, hair accessories or posing you are going to want. Make sure that these things are clear to the team you are bringing together as well. Often, I find that printing out images or sending screenshots that inspire what I am looking to capture helps those I am working with. And better yet, it often gets them more excited!


5. Scheduling


Speak with each member of your team to get an idea of everyone's optimal availability and compare that with the dates of availability at your chosen location. Before choosing a date and time, think about what kind of light you'll need to achieve the vision you have in mind. If natural light is involved, you'll probably want to shoot during blue hour in the early morning or evening hours. With that in mind, schedule a date and time that works for you with plenty of time to capture each of the shots on your list in addition to a timeline for set design, makeup, hair, and wardrobe. Communicate expectations with each member of your team leading up to the event in order to keep them involved and ensure their continued availability. You are directing this show and will be responsible for making sure each person who has made a commitment is in attendance on the day-of. 


6. Creative Direction

I'll keep this short and sweet. Like I said in number five, you are directing this show! And like I said in number four, it is time to unleash your inner Beyoncé. (I don't listent to a ton of Bey I'll be honest, but I am low-key obsessed with her creativity and visionary directing skills).

In the words of Erykah Badu, "Now keep in mind that I'm an artist and I'm sensitive about my shit."


You can have fun and be your lighthearted self while taking your work seriously. It's okay to take charge and let everyone know what needs to happen; just have fun with it! As long as you keep it light, your team will be thankful for your timeliness and organization.  


7. Follow Through

The day of your production has how come and gone, but the vision has been brought to life. It's a waiting game now, but luckily you are quite organized and spoke with the photographer about your expectations for turn-around time as well in the early stages. Photos will be back within a couple of weeks and you'll be ready to roll out the fresh content. Make sure to have a delivery in mind or this, whether it's a soft launch for your website or to slowly disperse the images through social media. Don't forget to send out the images for your team as well with a list of credits to include when sharing and promoting going forward. 


There you have it! Those are my top 7 pro tips for producing a styled photo shoot. Have fun with it and drop me any questions you have in the comments. I'd love to hear how your styled shoot went as well!

SAHUARO MEDia (1).png