How To Plan Every Element Of A Successful Studio Shoot

6/30/2012 11:27:52 AM

Boost your business prospects with these career enhancing tips & tricks. Nathan D’Amour offers his top tips and advice on how to plan every element of a successful studio shoot.

How do you secure professional work and promote yourself?

Description: How do you secure professional work and promote yourself?

Whatever area of photography you’re going into, your first consideration should be collating a fine-tuned collection of your best work. This is then used to create a portfolio that represents what you do best. Your portfolio can either be digital or printed. I personally prefer printed. Make sure your portfolio has a coherent feel and maintains an interest from start to finish. Don’t just put work in for the sake of it, usually less is more! Think about the layout and the sequencing of your work, remember this is what you will be showing to your prospective clients. Always consider your portfolio as work in progress and make sure you keep it up to date. If you think it appropriate, then show a client some of your personal work. It can create an interesting talking point.

Tapping into social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter can be a cheap effective way to promote yourself. The best way to gain interest is to share your work and experiences. If you do this on a regular basis then you’ll undoubtedly build up a small fan base. With time you might find people are blogging about your work and exploits. Be mindful of what work you feature online and how you portray yourself. Blogging is on the increase and it’s a great way to share information. You can easily create a free blog on By sharing your work you’re giving your audience a free invitation to view your portfolio.

Hair & make-up

Question: I’m organising an editorial shoot but I’m finding it hard to find hair and make-up artists. How do you organise this and make sure you’re getting what you want from your shoot?


Answer: I’m always on the lookout for emerging hair and make-up artists. There are some great networking sites like where hair and make-up artists are looking to collaborate and expand their portfolios. You can view their online work and read messages from other collaborators. Always do your research on whoever you are involving in you creative team. I take on people via recommendation, viewing their portfolios and making sure I get on with them. When first approaching anyone, make sure you’re getting back an enthusiastic positive response and discuss your aims and vision for your shoot. Ensuring you’re on the same wavelength is as important as the skills they can offer.

Studio space

Question: When you organize a shoot what key things do you look for in a studio space? On average how much would you expect to pay out for a day’s shoot?

Answer: Make sure you have enough workable space for your shoot and if possible a separate preparation area for the model. Always check out the studio kit list, making sure it covers your requirements. A selection of paper backgrounds is always useful. Poly boards for blinds are essential to control the lighting. Obliging and non-interfering studio owners are advantageous. You’ll undoubtedly be calling on them for assistance and probably running over your allotted studio time. Lastly a good beverage area creates a great mood and a chance for you to connect with your team.

Lighting rig

Description: Lighting rig

Question: I’ve decided to take the plunge and go pro. I want to invest in a studio lighting set up. I have $1,500 to play with but this must cover lights and accessories. The web is full of many brands and I don’t know where to start. Can you recommend any equipment?

Answer: There are a number of manufacturers that produce great value all-in-one lighting kits. A good one to try is the Elinchrom BXRi 250/500 twin flash head kit. The kit offers a whole host of features, including a built-in remote receiver, and comes complete with stands, softboxes, carry cases, leads and a remote trigger. You can pick this up for $1,245 from To complement this kit, I’ve recently discovered a great lighting modifier – the Photek Umbrella Softlighter II 46” from It works out at about $55 plus delivery and import tax but still comes within budget. Watch out for fluctuating exchange rates though!

Communication problems

Description: Show the model good shots

Question: I find it difficult to concentrate on taking pictures and communicating with my model. I get quite nervous. Can you give me any tips?

Answer: Before you begin your shoot, build up a rapport with the model. Explain how you’re going to shoot and what you’re aiming to achieve. This will help place both you and the model at ease. You should give an indication of what you’re expecting in terms of poses and positioning. This allows the model the opportunity to take the lead which can leave you free to concentrate on shooting. Don’t rush, take your time everything and try and stay focused. Keep up visual communication with your model, use hand gestures when directing and try to maintain a flow. If you capture a great image, go over to the model and show her the shot – this builds up mutual confidence and can give the model a good indication of exactly what you are looking for. Have your creative team or someone on hand throughout the shoot to help out with anything that needs adjusting. If nerves get the better of you and you’re finding it hard to perform, just take a break. Ultimately enjoy your shoot, remember there has to be an element of fun!

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