CHECKLIST: 14 steps to a successful photo shoot!

Posted by Jennifer Forrest on August 17, 2018

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You know the feeling. You’re packing for vacation, but you have a gnawing feeling that something is missing. Unfortunately, you won’t find out that your sunglasses are in your glove compartment until you are tiptoeing toward the sand, thousands of miles away.

If you had a standard checklist that you could adhere to every time you traveled, you could save yourself the hassle. The same holds true for photo shoots.

Whether you are an accomplished pro or an amateur photographer, it is safe to assume that at some point in your past, you have missed the shot because you weren’t prepared.

Avoid mishaps at your next photo shoot with this helpful checklist!


  • Charge your batteries. Make sure your batteries are fully charged, and carry back-ups.
  • Make sure you have enough memory. Confirm that your memory card is cleared of old images, or, if your camera shows an estimated number of photos you can take before your card is full, make sure that number is more than sufficient for your needs. Also, bring a back-up card, in case one fills or fails.
  • Clean your lenses. A dirty lens can leave dust spots on images that could ruin the photos. Bring a microfiber cloth, blower brush and lens-safe cleaning liquid with you, as well.
  • Create a photography gear toolkit. Your toolkit should include various lens sizes, filters, lighting equipment, tripod, rain sleeve, paper and pen, necessary event credentials (such as press passes or event tickets), step ladder, flashlight and any accessories you might want for staged shots (i.e. props, stools, backdrops or green screen).
  • Gather personal gear. Wear weather-appropriate clothing. Bring a water bottle, snacks, sunscreen and your cell phone.
  • Research your location. If you’re able, visit the photo shoot location in advance to survey ideal shooting spots and consider poses for the models.
  • Communicate logistical details. Make sure everyone involved in your photo shoot is on the same page about logistical details, including the location address, parking information, the time to arrive and meal plans for the day. Include clothing recommendations for models, such as avoiding busy patterns and clothing with logos. 


  • Consider your camera settings. Choose your camera settings based on how your photos will be utilized later. Be sure to check your white-balance setting, making sure it’s not set on fluorescent light from a previous shoot, for example, before you begin a shoot outdoors.
  • Find optimal lighting. Pay attention to lighting and position your set-up accordingly.
  • Select your lenses. Consider how the photos will be used, and whether you should use a lens that will provide a shallow or long depth of field, if a person’s full body or only head and shoulders should be visible and other needs. Choose the lens that will best capture that area.


  • Recharge your batteries as soon as you return from the shoot. Getting into this habit will ensure you are always prepared for the next photo shoot.
  • Import the images. Import to two devices, such as your computer and external hard drive. Keeping back-ups of the original images will help prevent any losses during the editing process.
  • Reformat memory cards. Formatting cards is often safer to do while the cards are inside the camera, rather than formatting by computer. (Be sure you do this AFTER you have transferred the images to your computer and backed them up!)
  • Clean your equipment. Extend the longevity of your equipment by cleaning off the fingerprints and dust that can get kicked up during photo shoots. For telescoping telephoto lenses (rather than fixed-length telephoto lenses), be sure to dust off the lens extensions, as well.

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While some of the prep work may seem tedious, it will make the experience run more smoothly for both you and your subjects. It will also demonstrate that you are efficient and prepared to capture the moment!

Visit our portfolio for some great photography samples!

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