Your work for a photography client begins long before you arrive on set. Here are our top ten tips for preparing a successful client photoshoot.

Preparing for a client photoshoot means making sure that as the photographer, you stay ten steps ahead of everyone else. This applies whether you are working on a high-production photoshoot or a simple in-studio product shoot. Photographers need to be completely prepared to meet all expectations on a client photoshoot. Being a successful photographer doesn’t just mean delivering amazing work to a client. It also means that the entire experience of working with you on set was successful.

10 Tips to Prepare Yourself for a Client Photoshoot — The Path to a Successful Shoot

Image by Patrick Foto.

Client Photoshoots at Shutterstock Custom

Shutterstock Custom contributors receive a client brief to understand and execute a custom shoot. These custom sets result in compensation. But, failure to understand and prepare for that client photoshoot may result in a request for a re-shoot. Every day we see thousands of pieces of content that easily go from good to great when photographers prepare for client photoshoots in advance.

We’re sharing our top ten tips on professional practices to implement while preparing for your next client photoshoot. These 10 tips will help you create a lasting positive impact on every client you work with. Keep them coming back to work with you again and again.

10 Tips to Prepare Yourself for a Client Photoshoot — Shutterstock Custom

Image by Josep Suria.

Read and Understand the Client’s Brand Guidelines

Before you even think about preparing for the actual logistics of a photoshoot, ensure you understand the brand. Read any material that the client provides you carefully before the client photoshoot, as this is material directly relating to their brand. Research what they’ve done in the past, and look at any brand DNA or bible they can provide you. On Shutterstock Custom assignments, this comes in the form of a brief so you can understand the brand’s visual identity before starting to shoot. If the client doesn’t provide you with any information on the brand, ask them. It’s better that you have too much information about the brand you’re shooting for than too little.

10 Tips to Prepare Yourself for a Client Photoshoot — Brand Guidelines

Image by Oscar Carrascosa Martinez.

Communicate with the Client

On any client photoshoot, you should have a direct line of communication with the client or the agent go-between. Ask questions before your shoot, and get everyone on the same page with every detail of the shoot. A line of communication is great to have in case issues arise on set, as the client will want to know before it’s too late and a reshoot is needed. At Shutterstock Custom, this comes in the form of Project Coordinators who are your point person if anything goes wrong on set.

10 Tips to Prepare Yourself for a Client Photoshoot — Communicate with the Client

Image by Tammajak.

Be Realistic with Your Shoot Timeline

Being realistic and staying organized with your timeline is one of the most effective ways you can create a great client photoshoot. Don’t overpromise a deadline you can’t make, and leave yourself some wiggle room in case issues arise. As photographers, most of the time you’re expected to be your own boss. So, you have to manage your own timetable. Ensure you’re giving yourself enough time to prepare for the shoot, arrange logistics, liaison with models, post-produce, and submit photographs to your client.

10 Tips to Prepare Yourself for a Client Photoshoot — Be Realistic with Your Shoot Timeline

Image by attilio pregnolato.

Develop a Dialogue with Your Team Before You Shoot

It’s pivotal that you develop a dialogue with your entire team, including your models, before you shoot. By opening a dialogue, you deepen the understanding of the expectations for the shoot and get everyone on the same page. This is especially important with your models and ensuring that they feel comfortable when they arrive. Ask your models to show up a little early if you haven’t met yet to get the conversation going, rather than jumping straight into shooting a client photoshoot. This will create a much more comfortable shoot environment than working with complete strangers.

10 Tips to Prepare Yourself for a Client Photoshoot — Build a Dialogue with Your Team

Image by PH888.

Scope the Location Before You Shoot

Take a walk around and make note of interesting things in the location. There may be details that you would miss when you get behind a lens. If you’re shooting outdoors at a park, take a walk and look at different types of trees. Take in potential backgrounds in playgrounds or sporting fields that might add variety. If you’re shooting inside a home, take note of interesting textures such as artwork or blankets. Or, different wall colors and areas where light enters can add interest. Knowing your location is the first step to creating a diverse set of images.

10 Tips to Prepare Yourself for a Client Photoshoot — Scope the Location

Image by rathshiki.

Notice the Details

Being a photographer is a unique job that requires you to control and organize a variety of little details in order to create a big picture. Small details such as props, wardrobe, or even fingernails can make or break your final work. When you work with models on a client photoshoot, notice the details. Make sure that hair, nails, and outfits are clean and manicured at all times. If you have concerns regarding the wardrobe or are unsure of what the client is looking for, bring extra pieces of basic clothing without recognizable brands. The last thing you want is to be on a shoot and realize that your model is wearing the wrong color or a competing logo for the client you’re working for.

10 Tips to Prepare Yourself for a Client Photoshoot — Notice the Details

Image by

For more tips on trademarks and recognizable copyright to avoid, click here

Check Your Rights and Releases

Before you shoot any models or properties, you need to ensure you have all the rights to shoot that space or person. You can’t submit client images to Shutterstock, Offset, or Shutterstock Custom without a signed location or model release. The same goes for any general client photoshoot. The last thing you want to do is spend a significant amount of time shooting content only to release you don’t have permission to use it. If you still aren’t 100% sure, ask your client to confirm before you start shooting.

10 Tips to Prepare Yourself for a Client Photoshoot — Check Rights and Releases

Image by Neirfy.

For more information on property releases, click here.

Determine the Technical Requirements

The location, space, and people you select may influence the type of equipment you need to bring on location. This can be anything from lighting for interior spaces to reflectors to minimize shadows on your models. If you aren’t sure if the time of day you are shooting at is going to give your space able light, then ensure you have the right equipment to solve for any issue that arises.

10 Tips to Prepare Yourself for a Client Photoshoot — Determine the Technical Requirements

Image by Famveld.

For more tips on lighting and equipment, click here.

Bring Backups

If you can, bring backup camera gear, props, wardrobe, and makeup to your photoshoot in case any issue happens. Not only will you feel like you have your own back, your team will feel supported too. Things happen, whether it’s a spill on a model’s shirt during lunch break or a dead camera battery halfway through the set. Always check that you have backups of anything that can make or break your client photoshoot.

10 Tips to Prepare Yourself for a Client Photoshoot — Bring Backups

Image by PointImages.

Ask for Support

If you’re in the process of planning a client photoshoot and feeling lost, ask your client for support.We always encourage this at Shutterstock Custom above all. Clients will be more appreciative of you asking for clarification than waiting weeks for images that weren’t what they’re looking for. Be open with any questions you have. For example, if a location is right for the wardrobe, or if the model is the right look for the shoot. Always ask your client for input. The client is there to support you and help make a decision when required. By asking your client for support rather than waiting until a problem comes up, you’re starting a great client relationship on your photoshoot.

10 Tips to Prepare Yourself for a Client Photoshoot — Ask for Support

Image by Monkey Business Images.

Featured image by Everst.

Looking for more tips on shooting with clients? Check out these other Contributor articles: