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4 Tips for a Spectacular First Client Photoshoot

Some people consider photography as an expensive hobby. While there’s a grain of truth in this, there are ways by which you can reduce the costs, so you can still enjoy your passion without breaking the bank.

In fact, you can even turn your hobby into a business. Assuming you already have a good camera to work with, all you'll need are extra gears, styling supplies, and a location for the photoshoot.

Of course, you don’t have to own everything from the get-go. For example, you can hire a photo studio for images that need to be shot indoors. If you don’t have a good DSLR camera yet, you can always buy a second-hand camera that is still in good working condition.

Ready to take the leap from being a hobbyist to a professional photographer? Here are four tips to help make your first client photoshoot spectacular:

Create a Mood Board With Your Client

As a professional photographer, you must clarify every little detail of the photoshoot with the client to make sure you’re both on the same page. But how do you do that, exactly?

The answer is simple: by using a mood board. A mood board is a collage of images that provides a way for you and the client to visualise the expected outcome of the photoshoot.

Ideally, your client should be the one to create a mood board. But just in case, it would be easier to help them with it. This way, you would be able to clarify any vague visual samples they add to ensure that you understand and agree on the desired result.

Mood boards are very useful in avoiding miscommunication with your client. Since you’re dealing with images, verbal descriptions alone may not be enough to clear things up.

For instance, you may have a different idea about what your client meant by a “dark and moody” as the theme of the photoshoot. And then, there’s the whole matter of naming a colour (e.g., what is teal for you may be seen as green by someone else).

Here are some of the aspects of the shoot that can be defined using the mood board:

  • Lighting style

  • Colour treatment

  • Composition

  • Other crucial elements to achieve the desired final images

Create a Checklist of the Gear You’ll Need

Once you and your client agree on a theme or style of the photoshoot, it is time to make a list of the things you need. Styling-wise, you may need to consult your approved mood board on what costumes and props are needed for the shoot.

Aside from the camera itself and a strap to hold it with, there are several other things you would need to pack in your camera bag, as follows:


Camera tripod

A camera tripod is a useful tool in just about any type of photoshoot. Be it a night, street, landscape, portrait, or even event photography; there’s always a moment when you would need a tripod for your camera.

Plus, using tripods during low light settings can help you capture long-exposure shots minus the blur from the shaking of the camera. The stability it offers is also advantageous for night-time selfies and images of the night sky.


Remote shutter release

When shooting for a client, there are times when you would need to take an almost-impossible shot without you physically touching your camera. When this happens, you would be very thankful to have a remote shutter release.

This nifty tool also removes the chances of accidental blurring and camera shake, especially when used with a tripod.


External flash

An external flash is every photographer’s friend, even if you’re not shooting in low light. While there’s a built-in flash in your camera, your shots will be better if you use an external flash.


Extra batteries and a battery charger

When you use external flash units, chances are that you’ll be burning through your batteries very quickly. Be prepared and bring extra sets of rechargeable batteries as well as a battery charger.


Extra SD memory cards

Like batteries, another indispensable “extra” you should always have is SD memory cards. But instead of buying two big SD cards, you should opt for a handful of smaller ones. These will serve as your contingency just in case a card gets damaged or corrupted.

Scout for a Location

Location is very important to get an excellent picture, so you have to make sure that you choose the best one for your first client photoshoot. However, you must understand that scouting for a photoshoot location entails more than just doing an ocular inspection and checking the cost of hiring a photo studio.

What you need to do is perform a technical scout to check whether the venue is (or has) the perfect spot to snap the images your client wants for the shoot. When doing a technical scout, make sure that you:

  • Have enough space to work in.

  • Determine whether an outdoor location has the right lighting, the perfect terrain, and minimal traffic at the time you schedule the shoot.

  • Check for possible obstructions in the angle you plan to take the picture from.

Be Prepared and Learn to Think on Your Feet

The best and most useful tip you should heed when starting as a professional photographer is to be prepared and learn to think on your feet.

Try to anticipate any possible problems that may occur, so that you can prepare a contingency plan. In doing so, here are some examples of pre-photoshoot tasks you need to undertake:


Check the weather forecast

Checking the weather forecast for the date of your shoot is crucial, especially if you’re doing it in an outdoor location. Not only will it help you avoid getting drenched, but it also gives you a chance to plan for lighting conditions and determine what other things you need to bring.


Research about poses

While some subjects may already be experts in posing, others may need your help. To direct them properly, you should look up some poses before the photoshoot.


Visualise your shots

Mood boards aside, professional photographers can also add their personal touch to a photoshoot. To do this, visualise your shots before the actual day of the shoot, ideally during a technical scout.

Doing so will help you avoid wasting precious time and natural light. It can also give you a direction for the shoot.


Lights, Camera, Capture

Snapping spectacular pictures as a professional photographer for the very first time can seem daunting if you have no idea where to begin. Make sure that you come prepared by researching what you need to do and bring. Arriving early on the photoshoot location would also be helpful.



Adam Jacobs is the owner of Windsor Photo Studios in Melbourne, Australia and Managing Director of Bubblegum Casting, the country's longest operating modelling, talent and casting agency for babies, children and teens. Adam is a creative digital marketer focused on growing companies' online presence and performance using both tried and true as well as cutting-edge growth marketing and growth hacking tactics.