The most important part of how succesful my photoshoots tend to be is the amount of preparation I put in beforehand. Now I know this is a general statement that makes sense, but even with a whole lot of preparation done, durinh my shoots I'll always end up looking back and thinking that it would be better if I had prepared even more so than I usually do.
This might not always be true, but I do find that preparation helps, so I've compiled a list of 5 things I always do to prepare for a photoshoot.
Location is one of the most important things of the photoshoot and almost every single shoot does have one. For a studio shoot it's very easy and the amount of preparation is basically non-existant, but when you want to shoot at a location outside there are a lot of factors you have to keep in mind.
What I like to do is to make a list of locations I like and compare them with the requirements I need for the shoot location. A couple of factors are for example the cost of renting the location, the ability for the models to get make-up applied or to change their clothing, and whether the location is public or private.
I always end up calling the manager/owner of a location asking them for permission to shoot (and what it might cost) before actually showing up. Not doing so can end up with you being kicked out of the location, or even worse, arrested. After we've gotten approval I usually visit the location itself a week or so before the shoot itself to look around and decide which angles I want to use for the photo. If this is not a possibility, I use google maps or look around on the internet for interesting photos of said location. This all will ensure that you won't be disappointed with the location of your choice or end up in trouble in any way.
This has happened to me a couple times. A shoot being planned out really well, but then the weather decides to turn for the worse and we end up having to pack up sooner than expected. You can't always avoid situations like these, but make sure that you check the weather report for the day you're going to shoot at least a week before the actual day itself. I tend to keep track of the weather report daily just to be sure that I'll be prepared for anything that might happen. And if you eventually still end up in a bad weather situation, try to improsive or have a backup location that is sheltered against the rain.
3. Time management
This is definitely the most important one of all. Making sure everything is planned out for the day of the photoshoot. What i usually do is to create a timetable description which shot I'll be doing, what the starting and ending times are and who will be on location at that point. Now this timetable is not set in stone, if something goes wrong, or things get delayed, there's always the option to just move everything forward a bit. The great thing about the timetable though is that you can always fall back on it in case things get really busy. It saves you from having to improvise.
What I also do with the timetable is to schedule a bit of free time between each section, this enables us to be more flexible with the time that we have available.
This one is should be combined with the previous point. Making sure that everyone has enough to eat and drink is really important and I always make sure that I plan in time for lunch or dinner during the shoot. This makes sure that everyone can stay focussed for the entire duration of the shoot, especially if the day is somewhat long. (I've had shooting days of 12 hours). It's especially important for myself, as I tend to forget to eat during these days due to the fact that there's always something else I can do.
When a shoot is done and there's enough time, I also tend to go out for dinner with the team. This is a great way to bond and gives you the time to discuss how the day went, which photos were everyone's favorites or just to talk about other things happening in life.
5. Storyboarding / Previsualization
The final point in this list is to make sure you have everything previsualized or to set up a story/moodboard. After having finished the storyboard, a good thing to do is to share it with the models so they'll have a good feeling of what you want to do during the shoot. This also means that they can offer feedback on your idea and you'll end up with better results from this. There are a lot of ways to do this, some photographer prefer to sketch what they have in mind, other visualize everything in their head. What I tend to do is to create a board on pinterest and just fill it with pins that bring forth the idea that I have in mind. Some of them only in concept, but others moreso with composition or the style of post-processing. I don't think there's a good or bad way to do this, it's a simple step that will make it easier for everyone to understand what you want from the photoshoot.
I hope these 5 little tips can help you with preparing your photoshoot in the future. Let me know if there's anything I might have missed and what you do to prepare for photoshoots. I would love to hear it.