3 Must-Know Tips For Running an Amazing Photoshoot

3 Must-Know Tips For Running an Amazing Photoshoot
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Corinne Madonna

Sooner or later you’re going to have to run this photoshoot. You’ve put it off long enough but now the client is asking for those high quality photos that you promised them ages ago. Yeah, you tried to pass off those artsy shots you took on your iPhone but they saw right through them.

The fact is, images matter. A recent study showed that content with relevant images were, on average, viewed 94% more than articles without images. Suffice it to say, visual marketing is king and its reign won’t be coming to an end any time soon.

Running a successful photoshoot doesn’t have to be painful. Yes, it’s going to be a bit difficult, but you knew that. A little difficulty is inherent when you’re dealing with all the egos that go into this marriage of art and commerce—the photographer, his assistants, the client, the stylist and everyone in the back office are all going to have some opinions on how the shoot should look.

To adapt the phrase, opinions are like trashcans—everyone’s got one and they all stink.

Except for yours of course. You’re the ringleader of this whole circus and you’re charged with making sure everyone’s happy at the end of the day and that the shoot doesn’t devolve into disaster.

And you can easily avoid a disaster by following three simple steps outlined here!

Client Relations

The first step in running a successful photoshoot is making sure you know exactly what the client wants.

Unfortunately, sometimes (read: most of the time), the client has no idea what they want. Hey, listen, we love our clients (we really do!) but there’s a reason why marketing agencies and creative directors exist in the first place, right?

So when you’re sitting down with your client, try to glean what they’re looking for in regards to an end product.

  • What kind of medium will this be featured in? Digital, print, or both? What size? Billboards, postcards or somewhere in between? They may not even be sure just yet so push them to figure it out.
  • Who is the audience? What are their likes or dislikes? What’s the message you’re trying to send them? The more you know about your intended audience, the better.

Plan Accordingly

When you’re planning, try to think of yourself as a character in Game of Thrones looming over their giant stone representation of Westeros with little pieces representing each warring house.

But instead of feuding lords and knights, you’ll have your photographer, your client and your agency.

  • Make sure the client has delivered a thorough shot list describing in detail what they’d like to see. Occasionally, the client will put that burden into your hands in which case we hope you’ve got a crack creative department.
  • Research the photographer you’d like to use on the shoot. The needs of your client and the product will generally dictate this. Even though they’re both skilled, you wouldn’t want a dentist doing brain surgery, likewise you wouldn’t ask or expect a noted landscape photographer to take incredible portraits.
  • When you’ve found the perfect photographer get everyone together and set up a pre-production call to get the team on the same page. It’s your call whether or not to include the client on this one.

Day of the Shoot

After all of your planning, the day of the shoot is when everything can go wrong. As long as the team’s doing their job, there shouldn’t be any major issues, right?

  • My general philosophy is to avoid being a “helicopter creative director” during the shoot. I truly like to allow the professionals to do their work. That’s why I hired them. Of course, I’m always ready to step in as needed.
  • Along those lines, remember to remain firm but also be flexible. One of the tasks a creative director is charged with is being a representative of the client, and the idea that they have in their head (no matter how outlandish). A creative director must bridge that with what is possible in regards to budget and constraints of reality. So allow the photographer some artistic leeway but always remember to stand firm with the ideas the client originally wanted.
  • Remember, everyone is working toward the same goal so work in tandem with your people on set and remind them to do the same.


Yes, your photoshoot will be stressful but, afterwards, when you’ve got your incredible images and your client is happy, it will all be worth it. Of course, as soon as you’re done doing your last kickass job, it will already be time to do it all over again!