7 Steps to Planning a Successful Shoot

7 Steps to Planning a Successful Shoot

Out of the Jaws of Failure!

Edited using one of the “Painting Pastels” Lightroom Presets available to members in the downloads area. Nikon Z6 + 105mm f2.8 1/160s ISO250. A speedlight was placed in a small soft box to the model’s left providing a small amount of fill light to her back and giving a subtle highlight on her skirt.

Long ago my approach to shooting was very much one of “make it up on the fly”.  Using the excuse that too much planning stifled my creativity.  But after years of shooting this way, one day I had a shoot that failed completely. I had a vague idea of shooting some fetish style pictures to update my Mighty Aphrodite galleries so I set up a shoot with my favourite model of the time (Sam who is now my image editor). I didn’t plan the shoot, I just told Sam to bring along some latex outfits and high heels. For some reason on that particular day, inspiration was not forthcoming. We tried several ideas that didn’t work out – I did manage to get a couple of decent shots but most of the latex shots were just boring. It probably didn’t help that we were both trying to manage hangovers as we had downed a couple of bottles of wine with dinner the previous evening. We ended up abandoning the shoot  and I had a major crisis of confidence – I’d never had performance issues before – had I used up all my creative juices?

Thankfully not – but this was the point where I started to put more effort into planning shoots . When I started asking myself questions about forthcoming shoots it helped to motivate me and inspire ideas.  But that’s just me – far be it from me to dictate how people should approach their work.  Others will have a different attitude, preferring to shoot in a more ad-hoc manner and let fate lend a hand.  I will however hark back to my days of corporate life and even further back to my days in education…”fail to plan…plan to fail.”  I know, I know it’s a proper cliché but my ever increasing years has given me experience enough to know how true that particular piece of corporate speak is.  

I now use a seven point plan to prepare for my shoots.  Each point forces me to answer a question which then goes towards both creating a plan and eliminating most unforeseen problems.  The resulting plan proves invaluable in creating the images I am striving for.  Of course it’s not infallible, things will always come along to kick you in the rear and destroy even the best laid plans but at least you’ve given yourself more than a fighting chance of success if you’ve done some preparation.  So let’s take a look at my seven steps to success…that is such a terrible line ?…and see how I put them into practice on an outdoor shoot.


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