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How do you prepare for a shoot?
Hello there,

This question has been building in my mind for some time now, so how do you prepare for a shoot? Do you focus on research via internet, do you gather images and set up moodboards, do you browse through fine art galleries or do you prefere to focus on reading contemporary art magazines or books? I'm quite curious how you do it and if you consider research important. I, for one, think it's a great way to get inspiration and put your ideas in order, but that depends for everyone.
I usually compile pictures from the internet in moodboards once I get my ideas straight, but before I might take a quick glimpse in some photography related books. If anyone is interested I can give an example later.
Do share your artistic creative process with everyone, it's a great way to learn something new!


I think research is very important in any field. Learning is the result of researching. I love to learn by visiting internet sites, read excellent books, as well as learn by doing. Some of the best photos comes on the spur of the moment.
Barbara - Life is what you make of it!
First if I am shooting a person or a family, I ask them what feel they want for their photos. I then look on Pinterest, Flickr, and a few other sites for posing ideas and prop ideas. I add pics to my phone or print them out. Sometimes I get nervous right before a shoot, I breath deep, remember that I have done this before and I'm good at my job, and once I get there the nerves are forgotten.

I have yet to make it to the library to see what type of photo books they have, but thank you for suggesting books!
When shooting animals, I'm always trying to capture the moment and the character of the animal I'm shooting. I can have awesome photo in my head, but it probably won't be doable, so most of my preparations are technical, and not about creativity. I browse the internet to find photos with the same note I would like to achieve, and try to find out how that particular photo was done.

Sometimes requests are almost impossible, like making an aggressive and everything but friendly dog look like a sweet little pet so he could find a home easier, so I'm spending a great time on the internet and bothering people looking for the tips that could help me.
I charge my accu's and empty my memory cards, maybe clean my lenses and put all of the needed equipment in my bag.
This is about the only active thing I do.
Other than this, I constantly educate myself by reading and finding new photos and projects to enjoy. A great source for projects is
I look for suitable gear and clothes to wear depending on the weather. I charge my batteries and if it's cold, try to hide them under a few layers of clothes. Then see that I have enough memory cards and lenses cleaned. Maybe look in advance at maps and pictures of places I might be interested in.

Often times the best pictures just happen unexpectedly so I try not to plan too much.
I also enjoy a lot of photography and art pages on facebook since it's the main way to communicate online nowdays. I'm adding a short list of pages I enjoy, maybe some of you would find them helpful. I think FB artist pages are a great way to get your work out there for people to see it and give you suggestions.
Here it goes:
If shooting landscapes in an unfamiliar area, I will research what can be found in the areas, which way it faces etc, if I need a guide or prior permission to access the location...

For Yellowstone a few years ago i did a lot of research on where to see both Buffalo and wolves (saw neither!), for Bears in Yosemite I'll talk to rangers to see where they have been sighted recently.

For weddings I'll talk to the Couple and get a shot list, visit the church or chapel if possible.

For all shoots, batteries, memory cards and equipment is checked, cleaned and prepped.

@Jinko, for keeping batteries warm in cold climates I'll put them in a cool-pouch and then throw in a chemical hand warmer, keeps them toasty for hours.
How do I prepare for a photo shoot? Kit is first.. at least 3 fresh batteries, enough memory to go for a few days, lenses cleaned and spare wipes, tripod selection, spare batteries for the flash, weather covering for camera and lenses, footware and clothing to suit the location, occasion and the weather (which changes rapidly) and for extended wandering a flask of coffee and sandwiches with towlettes to wipe myself off before touching cameras or lenses; maps or satnav settings for where I'm going and that's about all the physical preparation.

The mental bit is different and I think most of us are usually looking around at everything we see in the course of a day as a subject and opportunity; be it people being people or natural settings. I try to get out with a photography group several times a year just to learn something different from someone who knows more than I do (easily done). We pick a location and a time and the likely subject(s) and then off we go. Such fun.
Well certainly the equipment check list is important. Sometimes when time permits I will go to the church or location of the assignment just to see what the environment will be for the shoot. Doing a lot of search and gallery reviews are good research resources - most of the time - to try to find out what not to do - in an effort to be more original. Meeting the client and trying to determine if they are conservative, liberal, educated or not. After all, that range from Commercial to Artistic is often a ground that over artism may not provide commercial success. So I often determine to shoot convensional - continential - traditional - and if the time and opportunity permit - some wacky artistic stuff. Climbing up high to compose from above - always gets me some strange looks - but believe it or not they often will buy that composition to my surprise.
It depends if I'm working with an art director or flying solo and whether I'm shooting location or in a studio.

The first thing I do in preparation for a shoot solo is to get from the client exactly what they want they photo to convey and how they want the subject portrayed. Then I previsualize the shot including props, models, etc and sketch it out. The sketching process helps me define camera and lighting problems/solutions, etc.

Once I have that all out of the way, I make sure my equipment is in top shape and ready to go and that I have FRESH BATTERIES for everything! I've bitten myself in the A** a few times skipping this one!

Then I assymble everything and make it happen!

Working with an AD takes some of the weight off, they show up with a sketch or go-bys and we distill that into a workable shot and do it.
(Jan 24, 2013, 14:50)photokev Wrote: Once I have that all out of the way, I make sure my equipment is in top shape and ready to go and that I have FRESH BATTERIES for everything! I've bitten myself in the A** a few times skipping this one!

Haha, I know that one happened to me a couple of times, but I'm so foolish sometimes, I get caught up in the art direction and I completly forget about technical stuff!
I always do some recon of the area I will be taking pix at. I always carry an extra back-up battery (fully charged), and if it's cold outside I keep the extras inside the jacket. Cold likes to sap the strength out of them, so if it's cold wherever you are, keep your power source warm. I also set my cameras down on the landing to get them used to the cold. I find that way they don't freeze-up on me. I live in WI, and it gets cold up here. Bring x-tra cards also. Where do you shoot and what do you shoot?

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