Organising a successful photoshoot

Posted by Bobbie Cook on Aug 22 - 2014

Organising a photoshoot can be pretty daunting, there are lots of variables to consider - models, products, props, stylists, location, weather (always interesting!) and you can find that meeting everyone’s requests can be very tricky within a short time frame. 

The very best thing you can do is to be super organised with every aspect of the shoot, keep everyone involved informed of the latest decisions, and keep your eye on the prize - the beautiful shots at the end of the shoot. 

When it came to organising a photoshoot for the RNLI Christmas 2014 catalogue, we were extremely excited to find a location that would capture the essence of life on the coast and reflect the beautiful products the RNLI sell in order to raise funds for their lifesaving work. 


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First we met with the lovely marketing coordinators at RNLI to listen to their vision for the photoshoot, and to have a preview of the selection of products that would need to be shot. Armed with a clear picture of what they were after in terms of location, we could begin a thorough search of local beachside locations. Good value is always of utmost importance when organising a shoot, particularly when it’s for a charity, so we were looking for somewhere on the south coast that we could travel to easily. A tip for you is that it’s always worth trying to negotiate a better price on location. Many locations we wouldn’t have been able to look at twice at full price, but it’s always worth a personal call to the agent to explain your circumstances and budget. Whether it be for a start-up company with next to no budget, or a high profile charity, if the location is available you will find many agencies will give a discount to secure a booking.

We found a few options to present to the RNLI, and together we chose the beautiful “Seascape” beach house in Camber, East Sussex. With its rustic driftwood interior and stunning beachside location, it was the perfect place to showcase the beautiful products and Christmas gifts.


We are fortunate that we introduced the RNLI to a photographer who we have worked with several times, and who they have now put on their preferred list, so all we had to do was confirm the shoot dates and book it into his schedule.

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The next step was to choose a stylist who could arrange the products in their most appealing position within the location. We had some hamper products for the RNLI Christmas shoot, and so we needed someone who could take advantage of the beautiful rustic background of “Seascape” and combine it with the feast of seasonal delights that would feature within each hamper. Props were used such as fairy lights, pine cones and holly to set the tone of the images, and a soft lighting used to reflect the ambience of the holiday season.

Once the location and stylist have been booked, the next step is to ensure appropriate accommodation is booked for attendees of the shoot, this will include the photographer, stylist, art director, any models being used and representatives from the client. Accommodation close to the location is ideal, as you may be working long hours, and generally shoots have an early start time to make the most of natural light. You may need to book a caterer to provide on-location refreshments and meals to keep the hardworking shoot crew going.

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The final step before the shoot takes place is to hold a production meeting attended by everyone who will be working on the shoot, where all aspects can be discussed, the crew members have a chance to meet each other and discuss their ideas, and everyone can be clear of their role and the vision for those all-important shots. This is when the Shoot Layouts are discussed and agreed by everyone involved. Shoot Layouts are usually hand drawn visuals with notes that the art director has prepared.

As our creative director Tony Adams explains in a previous article; “So many clients don't appreciate the value of some outline tracings with handwritten notes. They are not prepared to pay for things that are not highly finished photographic Mac visuals. However, they represent a lot of creative thinking on the part of the Art Director. And they are worth their weight in gold. The point about these are that all key members of the shoot team will understand them, and use them to prepare in detail for the shoot, when time counts - and costs! This is the 'bible' for the shoot.” Also ensure you circulate a contact sheet with phone number and email addresses for everyone who will be attending, in case any last minute decisions are made, or travel plans have to change.

It may be advantageous for the art director and photographer to check out the location ahead of the shoot. Our multi-talented Tony Adams art directed this shoot and drove along to “Seascape” the week before with the photographer to get an idea of the space and natural light available. This can save precious time at the beginning of the shoot if the Art Director is already familiar with the layout and potential of the location.

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And that’s it! You have done everything you can to ensure the photoshoot goes smoothly, and now it is in the hands of the capable and talented crew members that were handpicked for the project (and a little sunshine always helps!). We are always super excited to see the shots as they begin filtering back to the office, and this latest RNLI shoot was no exception. The shots that came back were truly stunning, and best of all the client was very happy too; “It was such a great few days at the shoot and totally worth the travel for such an amazing location!”

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Click here to order your own copy of the RNLI Autumn/Winter 2014 catalogue, but please bear in mind that ordering your Christmas gifts online costs the RNLI less, so your support goes further.

Thank you.

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