Are you considering a professional photoshoot? Perhaps you’ve already reserved one. People book photoshoots for all manner of reasons; professional shots, influencer content, family portraits – perhaps you or a family member has a big birthday coming up and want a memory to preserve or you want to capture your tiny baby, your errant toddler or even your blossoming teenager at this moment in time.
Whatever your motivation, it’s undoubtedly a considerable investment, both financially and in terms of what you want to achieve from your professional photoshoot. So, what should you do to get the absolute best from your session? Here are the 8 things I believe you should consider:
What do you want to achieve during your photoshoot?
You are probably paying a lot of money for your professional photoshoot, so make you know what you want the resulting shots to look like.
Are you looking for a slick, professional headshot for your business, for example? If so, think about where you will be using it; on your company website, your LinkedIn profile, printed marketing materials. Then decide what you want these pictures to say about you.
If you are a Financial Director, you will want to look serious and responsible but if you are working on creative projects, you’ll probably prefer your look to be more arty. If you run a sports business or gym, you will be aiming for a picture showing you looking fit and healthy.
These days, at the studio, we see a lot of potential influencers and bloggers. The selfie has its place in these occupations, but a well-thought-out professional picture can definitely give them an edge.
We also see actors and models who are looking for portfolio shots and if that’s you, you should think about the kind of work you are looking for – do you want to look sweet and charming or edgy and dangerous, for example?
Alternatively, you may be having a family shoot done. Again, how do you want your pictures to look when you have them on the wall of your living room or what do you have in mind to give to your parents for Christmas? Do you want a formal shot or one where you are all having a good time together?
Or you may just be looking for a really great picture of yourself looking your absolute best or even something a little risqué to share with your partner.
And you can really mix and match. Get your headshot done for work, followed by a shot of you emulating an album cover for fun, indulge yourself in a picture where you’re dressed to the nines and look totally gorgeous, followed by an underwear shot.
If you have a particular look or looks in mind, bring a photo from a magazine to illustrate it so the studio can get it right.
What we don’t recommend is practicing! The point of going to a professional studio is that they have the experience to help you get the look you want and if you are too stiff with a practiced pose, you are unlikely to get the best from the process.
Now you have in mind the kind of shots you want, pick a selection of clothes that will help you achieve that look. We recommend bringing several changes of clothes and ones you can mix and match to create different looks. Four “looks” is a good number to work towards.
If you are simply there for work / business shots, we still recommend you change tops to give variety and allow for more formal or casual looks depending on where the shot is being used. If you are having a mixture of shots, a crisp white shirt, for example, can go under a suit jacket but could also be worn casually with a pair of jeans and your favourite boots or shoes.
On a very practical level, with head shots particularly, try not to wear anything that is too similar to your skin tone, as you are in danger of blending into your outfit and, conversely, don’t wear anything too patterned as it’s distracting.
If you are having a family shot or, perhaps, mother and daughter, co-ordinate to make sure your outfits work together.
I don’t mean you all wear the same things – unless you really want to – and avoid wearing the same colours – but if you are planning a dressy shot, make sure you all have smart clothes and similarly-styled dresses. You don’t want to have the whole family formal, apart from the one person that only brought jeans!
Do make sure you are comfortable in what you will be wearing during your photoshoot. You are far more likely to enjoy the experience – and therefore get better pictures – if you are comfortable and confident in the clothes you have chosen.
And underwear is important! Bring spares that you can change into if needed. That crisp white shirt won’t look right for a business shot if you arrived in a black bra and didn’t think to bring a spare! Similarly, if you are planning to wear low-slung jeans, bring underwear that won’t be poking out of the top! You get the picture (no pun intended).
Much like the clothes, ensure you have plenty of accessories to match your outfits and help towards the shot you want to achieve. Some understated jewellery for the business shot maybe but big, bold earrings for your fun shots.
And it’s not just for the ladies, chaps, bring your most outrageous retro trainers if you want to or a statement hat that you might not wear very often otherwise. Ladies, if you love your killer heels – or your crazy Doc Martens – don’t leave them at home. You may decide not use them on the day but do have them with you!
These are slightly less useful for the corporate-style shots, although if you have a hero product that might work in a shot or two it’s worth considering. Of course, if your product is something you wear or use that makes it easier to fit into your pictures but do remember to have some shots that are just you, with no promotion. There will be occasions you want to use a headshot where you don’t look too sales-y.
Props work really well with family photoshoots, particularly if you share a common interest; rugby shirts and a ball, for example or if you’re a family of bookworms, perhaps you could all bring your favourite book for a casually-styled photo.
In fact, with smaller children, props are a really great idea. It’s always good to bring things they can play with and if they have a particular favourite toy, perhaps a cuddly stuffed animal that they absolutely must have at bedtime or a doll or train that they can’t leave the house without, you – and they – won’t regret having them included in shots as a reminder of just how much they loved that toy.
Likewise, if they have a particular personality trait that can be highlighted with a prop, it is a lovely thing to have for posterity. If your toddler is cake-obsessed, a delicious-looking cupcake could be fun (if not too messy) or if your older child would happily spend their entire life on the X Box or Playstation, perhaps bring a controller along.
Also really cute are adult props for smaller children. Think your tiny daughter in Mummy’s best heels or Granny’s string of pearls, or your little boy in Daddy’s hat – cowboy or hard hat, perhaps – or sporting his favourite tie or his glasses.
Speaking of glasses, these are far less of an issue than people tend to assume so, if you are a wearer of glasses, do bring them along to your photoshoot. Glare is far less of an issue than you will probably imagine – remember these are professional photographers who know how to get the angle and lighting right.
For some people, glasses are very much part of their identity and others may need them but prefer how they look without, so it’s very much a personal choice. What we tend to do is take poses both with and without glasses and when the photoshoot is over you can choose which pictures you prefer.
Hair and makeup
So, now you have thought about what you want and got your outfits together, what should you do about hair and makeup?
Firstly, make sure you check with the studio whether or not hair and makeup is part of the package. I would highly recommend that you choose a studio that includes this, but a lot of family and corporate photographers don’t so make sure you check. And if they don’t include hair and makeup, ask them for guidance as to how you should prepare before you arrive.
If you come to a studio where these are part of the package, we advise to always arrive with clean hair that has no styling products in and no makeup. That way the stylists can start with a blank canvas and create the look you want.
We do suggest you have makeup applied for the photoshoot, as the lighting is pretty strong, so you could look washed out without any makeup at all. However, you can choose to look very natural or have heavy makeup or anything in between.
If you have a particular look you want to create, again, bring along a picture or magazine cutting to illustrate what you want – your idea of “smoky eyes”, for example, may not be what the makeup artist has in mind so it’s best to be clear. If you’re not 100% sure what you want, the artists can advise you and work with you to get you looking just perfect!
Men should also arrive with clean, non-styled hair and, for the photoshoot, we do suggest at least having some powder applied because of the lighting and to mask blemishes. Some men will want more than others, again depending on who you are and what you want to achieve, but it is completely optional and the makeup artists will work with you, too, to ensure you get the look you really want during your photoshoot.
Remember what you wanted when you review
The photographer will take a lot – and I mean a lot – of pictures. So, at the end of the shoot, there will be an enormous number of images to choose from. Generally, studios will have a “viewer”; someone specifically assigned to go through the shots with you and help you choose the right ones.
Remember what it is was you wanted in the first place and be sure you have those shots ordered – it’s crucial you leave with what you wanted in the first place. You may also find there are other shots that you really love and these are a real bonus from your experience.
I can’t stress this enough, your photoshoot should be fun!
We have a lot of clients who are very nervous when they arrive, often they hate having their photo taken. They are the corporate person who would prefer to remain anonymous or the parent who is always behind the camera and never in front of it. The preconception is often that you will feel awkward and that it’s a bit scary or a chore to do a photoshoot, but if you choose the right studio, it will be far from that.
We offer Prosecco on arrival and the whole process of a professional photoshoot is very comfortable. Good studios will have great makeup artists and hair stylists so you can relax while they get to work. The photographers are highly experienced and give a lot of direction; they will advise you on where to stand, how to sit, which angle to put your head at, where to look, etc. There’s lots of chat and direction and we find that even those who are not used to taking instruction enjoy being guided by the professionals.
Lastly, trust is key. You need to trust your makeup artists and the photographer. As I’ve said, turn up knowing what you want and, if you put your trust in the team, you will leave with what you anticipated and, probably, more!
So, with all this in mind, I do hope you book that photoshoot or look forward to the one in your diary more than you might have been doing until now. If it’s something you hadn’t thought of before, do consider it – did I mention how fun it is? Enjoy!
About the Author
Emeka Ikechi is Director of Vanity Studios. Vanity Studios is one of the most contemporary and popular studios for photoshoots in London, situated in the centre of Shoreditch. Our team of expert photographers all have their own specialisations, ensuring you receive bespoke photography that meets your high standards.
With Vanity Studio’s skilled creative team behind you, you will completely fall in love with the results of your photoshoot.
As well as unrivalled levels of technical photography skills, our team will help you to feel completely comfortable and relaxed, connecting with you to add a whole new dimension to your photoshoot.