How many times have you scrambled before it was time to take photos for your blog? I’m showing you how to take the stress out of planning a blog photoshoot so you can execute magic every time.
Photoshoots play a pivotal role in my business as a blogger. In every single post I create, I have images that compliment the story. When I first started blogging getting in front of my tripod and shooting looks was super simple. I tried not to overwhelm myself but to be honest, my blog wasn’t growing the way I wanted it to. It wasn’t until I started investing more time into each photoshoot that I started to grow and people really started to respond to my content.
When I first started shooting with a professional photographer, I was all over the place. I wasn’t organized at all. Batch shooting wasn’t effective for me because I wasn’t planning ahead. I would shoot maybe 2-3 outfits in a session but I was just shooting just to shoot. Shooting without a real concept for every outfit led to me taking photos that I never used. I wasted a lot of money and time.
Like any person, my time is super important to me so I decided that I had to get it together. I stopped scrambling the day before every shoot and got proactive. Creating moodboards with concepts for every shoot was something I started doing so that I could execute shoots more efficiently and not only save time but money. I pay my photographer by the hour so of course the longer it takes to get through a shoot, the more I pay.
In this post I’m sharing with you my secret sauce of how to plan a blog photoshoot. Why? Because I want you to win too. I want you to stop wasting time and money, and be more successful with your blogs. I’ve covered some of this in this post here but I’m breaking down my process even more in this post. 8 simple steps is all it takes to plan a blog photoshoot.
How to Plan a Blog Photoshoot
Step One: Create a monthly editorial calendar
The first step before you even begin planning your blog photoshoot is to get your editorial calendar. If you don’t have an editorial calendar or never made one before, you should start now. If you’re not sure why you need one, check out this post.
Basically an editorial calendar can help you get your blog life together and keep your content organized. You can plan out your content in advance so you know what you actually need to shoot for.
Step Two: Schedule your shoot days
How you schedule your shoots is completely up to you. Once you have your editorial calendar created for the month you can easily decide how and when you want to schedule your shoots. I typically shoot twice a month, once in the beginning of the month and once in the middle of the month.
I keep the two days around the same time to keep consistency with my schedule. Knowing when I’m shooting allows me the flexibility to schedule other activities without having to worry about when I’m shooting.
A good rule of thumb is if you’re shooting for less than 15 blog posts, you should be shooting once a month for about 2-3 hours. If you’re shooting for 15 or more blog posts, schedule a shoot twice a month for 2-3 hours each. Find a day and time that works best for you and your photographer if you have one and try to stick to the same days every month.
Once your shoot days are scheduled, create a checklist of every post you’ll be shooting content for. You can reference the list when creating your mood boards.
Step Three: Come up with a concept
A concept for each blog post and shoot can help you to know exactly what you are wanting the pictures for each post to portray. Planning photography concepts can help to cut down on time during shoots and get the exact images you’re wanting.
When coming up with a concept, consider these things:
- Are you focusing on any products?
- What is the intent of the content? Are you teaching, sharing a look and where to buy the pieces, creating a recipe, showing things to do while you’re traveling in a specific destination?
- What purpose do you want the images to serve?
- How do you want the pictures to make your audience feel?
- What story are you trying to tell?
Download your editable photoshoot mood board template here.
Step Four: Create an inspiration board
A inspiration board or a mood board will help visualize the direction you want for each concept. Mood boards are by far my favorite part of planning a photoshoot because I get to find images that I love and bring each concept to life.
Where to look for inspiration:
- Pinterest – I love searching for inspiration on Pinterest. I can search for pretty much anything and create a secret board to share with my photographer. By sharing the secret boards, your photographer can add images to the board as well.
- Instagram – The save feature on Instagram is a golden tool when it comes to searching for inspiration. You can save photos that you love and create folders for each post that you’re creating a concept for. Try searching with hashtags, magazine accounts like Essence or PopSugar, or other blogger feeds.
- Google – A quick Google search can help you find inspiration for your shoot. You can save the images to your phone or computer to add them to your mood board.
- Magazines – If you’re old school and you love scouring magazines for inspo, go for it! Magazines have tons of inspiration that could help you out at your when planning your next shoot.
- Brand websites or social media – If you’re working with a brand, you’ll want to make sure that the images are on brand for both you and them. Get inspiration from the brand’s website and social media pages so you’re sure that the images blend well with their brand messaging.
Take a look at a few of the inspiration boards I created above for posts. The board on the left is for a Mother’s Day post with Scotties Facial Tissues and the second is for a Mother’s Day post where we created crafts for the Watermelon Board.
Step Five: Scout locations
There are so many ways to scout different locations. I typically try to shoot for at least 12 posts in each session. Batch shooting like this makes it a little harder because the pictures for every post won’t always have the same feel.
Finding the right locations is as important as capturing the right images for your brand. Going the extra mile to scout locations in advance can add cohesiveness to your photos that will level up your brand. Try to find a location that is versatile and has multiple areas where you can shoot different photos.
Tips to make scouting locations easier
- keep a list of places you like where you’ve shot before
- snap a photo of a location while you’re out and create an album with the pinned location
- ask other bloggers
- get your photographers opinion
Examples of Great Locations
- City areas: can shoot street style looks, in a coffee shop/restaurant, maybe a library
- Parks: can shoot on the street, natural shots, at the playground
Step 6: Write notes
It’s important to note everything you’re trying to achieve for each concept. Write down things such as the brand you’re working with if it’s for a collaboration, who is being shot in the photos, the location, a list of the exact shots you want, props, the outfit you’ll be wearing, and the post concept.
These notes will come in handy on the day of the shoot just in case you or the photographer should forget something. Be as detailed as possible in the notes section.
Step 7: Styling
No concept is complete without styling. What you’ll wear in each photo is as important as the location and props. It creates a whole story and pulls everything together. Think about what you’re trying to achieve in each image. Are you going for trendy, relatable, sporty? Styling is important because you want authenticity to shine through your content no matter what. If you would never be caught wearing high heels, don’t style them for a shoot. Go with sneakers instead.
If you’re working with a brand more than likely they will provide guidelines for styling if there are wanting you to stay on brand for them.Think about what looks will mesh with the location of the shoot. Consider colors, textures, and patterns when picking what to wear. You always want to pick a look that will complement the location.
Makeup is a huge part of styling too. When I’m shooting, I make sure to pack multiple lipsticks to change with my look.
Things That Are Handy During a Shoot
- A popup tent for changing (like this one or this one)
- Tote bag or rolling suitcase
- Makeup carrying case
Step 8: Props and Shopping
Before the day of your shoot, go through your photoshoot deck and make a list of all the props you’ll need. This will allow you to make sure that you have all of the props you need on shoot day.
Now that you’ve finished these 8 simple steps, it’s time to execute your photoshoot.
Download your editable photoshoot mood board template here.
FAQs About Planning a Blog Photoshoot
How do I pick which days I’ll shoot?
This is completely up to you and your photographer. I like to shoot at least twice a month. Once at the beginning of the month and once in the middle of the month. Each time I have my photoshoots planned out with inspiration boards and exactly what I want to accomplish at each shoot.
Shooting at the beginning and middle of the month will allow me to fit in any shoots for sponsored campaigns that may come up and aren’t already scheduled for a shoot.
I prefer natural light whenever possible. Typically I shoot with my photographer outdoors. When we are shooting in my home, we make sure that we shoot in a room with lots of natural light from windows or open doors to allow natural light to come in if needed.
If we are shooting products then we look for the best natural light as possible. Sometimes when I am shooting at home alone I use a tripod and ring light with umbrella lights if I am shooting in a room with no windows like in this post here.
Creating a light box using white foam board is helpful when you need a source to bounce the natural light off of.
Also, don’t be afraid to take product shots outside if your home doesn’t have the natural light that you are wanting.
Do you scout your locations before shooting when putting your inspo together?
Always! I always scout my locations in advance when creating my mood boards. This helps me to properly plan outfits, props and anything else I might need for the shoot. It also helps my photographer to know what type of environment they are walking into so they have the right equipment as well.
If we’re shooting indoors and there isn’t great natural light, they will know what type of external lighting to bring to get the right shot.
When scouting I also consider what day I’m going to be shooting. I take that into consideration because I don’t really like to shoot at places when they are too busy. It takes a lot longer to get the right shots when a location is crowded.
What does after a shoot look like?
After each shoot, I wait for my images from the photographer. Depending on who you’re shooting with it can take anywhere from 2-7 days to get photos back. If you’re working with a brand on a sponsored campaign, you’ll want to make sure that you communicate that to the brand so that you can work that wait time into your timeline of due dates.
Once I receive the images I go through all of them and sort them into a folder for each post. Then I can begin drafting my posts if I haven’t already or adding the images to posts that are already written.
If I’m shooting the images myself then I begin editing after I shoot. Typically I edit my photos in both Lightroom and Photoshop. I use a preset in Lightroom so it takes a lot less time to edit. Batch editing can save tons of time.
If I’m working on a brand campaign then I will typically watermark the photos and send them to a brand for approval with a post draft if that is what we negotiated at the time of signing the contract.
How far in advance do you start planning up until shoot day?
I start planning about a week in advance of each shoot, sometimes sooner if I have a little extra free time. Typically once my editorial calendar is done for the month, I can start planning. If something sponsored comes along I can just add it into the mix.
The sooner I begin planning, the sooner I can communicate my expectations with my photographer. If the photographer has any questions they can ask them before the shoot and we can clarify any issues before we begin shooting. It’s best to be on the same page before the day of the photoshoot. Things go faster and smoother when everyone knows what needs to be done beforehand.
Also by planning in advance you can give brands more time to approve your concept for photos. If you have to revise your concept or photo ideas but don’t have enough time before the shoot, you may miss out on capturing the content on the day of your shoot and have to get the shots on your own or schedule another session.