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Planning Styled Photoshoots: Do's and Don'ts

Updated: Feb 7

There are common mistakes that can be avoided and some pretty awesome tips to apply to your styled photoshoot practices.

Why am I the best person to give advice on this topic? Well, I'm not! I've just had a little bit of experience on the subject so here we are!

If you don't like some or any of these tips, that's quite okay! I still appreciate you being here to read through it.

DO Tip #1 - Engage with each participant

Taking a moment to talk to each of the vendors, photographers, and models participating in your styled shoot not only builds a relationship but helps you get more in-tune with what their expectations of the shoot are so you can clarify all-around. Keep the communication open and be transparent. Honesty gives you big props.

DO Tip #2 - Be inclusive

Blended photoshoots are the best photoshoots.

Being versatile in your shoots and collaborating with others that represent different backgrounds opens the horizon. You could also learn something from communicating and celebrating different practices and traditions.

Don't do it because I said so though, do it to change the view of the industry and break the glass ceiling.

DO Tip #3 - Give the models a break

Models are humans, too.

If you want them to perform at their best, they need a moment to collect their thoughts, take a seat, eat, and relieve themselves.

Your timeline must have multiple short breaks and also a dedicated lunch time for this reason. If the timeline gets messed up somehow, you have no choice but to still give them a break, so plan accordingly.

DO Tip #4 - Put a grace period in the timeline

This is in reference to the tip above.

Make sure the timeline has enough grace period in case things run behind, and most of the time they do.

DO Tip #5 - Set up refreshments and snacks

If your event is 2 hours or longer, bring snacks & drinks for all of the participants. If it's any longer than that, you need to hire a caterer.

Even better, plan ahead and ask all your participants if they have any diet restrictions, allergies, or special requests. Believe it or not, people will thank you and remember this detail.

DO Tip #6 - Make a Google Doc

Google Docs are my "go-to" for the entire process of planning a styled photoshoot. Also, If you want to send information or resources that the participants can refer back to, make a Google Doc and send that link to them.

If you want to go into detail, make separate Docs, then copy those links to your main Doc page. (Reference photo below.)

I love Docs for the reason that I can go back in and edit whenever I want without re-sending information over and over again.

You're going to want to continue reading to find the DON'T Tip - Overshare when you're sending out information.

DO Tip #7 - Stay protected

You need a legal contract for events like these. Whether it is a styled shoot, workshop, or mini session you need a contract or multiple to hold an agreement for operation, model release, payments, permits, natural disasters, proper image crediting, and so much more!

An awesome platform to purchase a proper contract is through The Legal Paige.

Also, please make sure you have insurance. When you have a catastrophe, you'll have wished you had it.

DO Tip #8 - Give others a chance

Though, creating a good work relationship with other vendors and models is great for your business, hiring the same one's every time you have an event won't bring back recurrent attendees and may come off as favoritism. Give others a chance to work with you and show you what they have to offer! Create a relationship with new vendors and models to build not only their recommended vendor list, but yours as well for future clients.

To find attendees when creating your own photo shoot event, join multiple styled photo shoot groups like the ones below!

Now, let's talk about the Don'ts.

DON'T Tip #1 - Put the models in awkward positions

Do you want to be in a bridge position for more than a minute? NO THANKS!

This tip is not only here, but inside "Participating in Styled Photoshoots: Do's and Don'ts" because I feel it applies to both the planner and the participant.

Models already deal with enough in the industry, so please try to make their experience enjoyable on your part and eliminate the insane poses unless it's their idea. Believe it or not, they know what they're doing. So, let them do their thang, ok?

DON'T Tip #2 - Ask your friend to model

There are people out there who actually aspire to get their name out there and want to get modeling gigs or signed to an agency. So, if your friend isn't actually getting anything out of the content then what is the point in having them participate?

Do your work and find real models or aspiring models, please.

**I will add to this tip and express an exception that can be made for wedding, couple, & family styled shoots. If you can get the best of both worlds, hire a signed model and have their actual partner model with them so you capture the real chemistry. If not, hire a real couple, and that may be your friend and their real partner!

DON'T Tip #3 - Touch your models

Ask for consent. Do I really have to go into detail? Oh yes, because I am posting this tip for a reason.

If a model has a smudge on their face, or their bra strap is hanging down, etc., DON'T fix it without asking first! Most of the time, they will do it themselves. If they want you to, they will give you permission or ask.

This tip is not only here, but inside "Participating in Styled Photoshoots: Do's and Don'ts" because I feel it applies to both the planner and the participant.

DON'T Tip #4 - Overshare

As a person that often overshares, just don't.

This is in reference to the "Make a Google Doc" tip up there ^

Regardless of whether you are extremely detailed with the information or not, people are going to have questions. Don't make them search for it.

Keep the information short and simple with bullet points. If someone wants you to elaborate on something, they will reach out. Nobody is going to read a 5 paragraph page on day-of information for your event and remember everything once the day is actually here. Put everything in your Google Doc and like I said, keep it simple so people can refer back to it and ask questions later.

DON'T Tip #5 - Scam people

Styled shoots are an investment not only for the photographers, but also your image and reputation.

I highly suggest you don't scam participants with false advertising or any kind of action that you will later regret. The information will circulate eventually in this ginormous industry and people will be afraid to do work with you. And, it's just not cool.

Inside "Participating in Styled Photoshoots: Do's and Don'ts" there is a tip on how not to get scammed as a participant.

All in all...

My experience with styled shoots brings me to publishing this because I want to help others avoid making mistakes and also make awesome choices that people will say were unforgettable.

I, myself learn do's and don'ts every time I host an event. There will ALWAYS be something you want to improve to make your next one better.

Have another tip you don't see here? Reach out and let me know!

Feedback is also much appreciated.

With love,


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