Preparing for Your First Shoot: Designer Edition

Tilly Grace Photography

Tilly Grace Photography

The creative industries talk a lot about how models, actors, and brands can prepare themselves for a shoot. But what about the person behind the lens? Many designers want to step out and create, produce, and publish their own material – but often aren’t sure where to start or what is involved. Getting an idea to paper is one thing; getting it to print is another.

Fortunately, there are just three steps you need to take to bring your vision to life.

  1. Understand it

  2. Prepare it

  3. Shoot it

These three things are fundamental to any creative project and act as the cornerstone for all endeavors you may have as a designer.


Understand It

This step may seem very simple, but it is often the hardest to truly master. Say you want to photograph a concept, it is easy for you to visualize it since it is your concept. However, the team helping you will need to understand it as well. Lay your idea out in simple terms, and explore the elements necessary to bring it to life. This includes textures, mood boards, colour schemes, wording, inspirational ideas, drafts, samples, and more. This stage is about expression and exploration. Find what it is that you want to create and start to give it shape here.

Keep it simple. Focus on one concept or theme at a time. Many designers juggle multiple ideas at once and can accidentally mix them. There is time to bring it all to life! Step by step, you can travel far. Pick one thing and do it properly and give it your full creative expression. Share your ideas, collaborate, create, and have fun with the exploration of this process. Really ask what you are shooting, why, and for what purpose then build from there.

Prepare it

This is the element many get tripped up on. Preparation for a shoot involves more than just a camera and a model. Once you understand what you are shooting, you can then move onto the how. If you have human models, as opposed to shooting art, products, landscapes, etc.… do you need a makeup artist? A hair stylist? If you are shooting clothes, what kind of models do you need, what environment is suitable? You also need to ensure that you have permission to shoot on specific locations, and are obligated to care for your team. Do they have food and water? Do you have batteries for the camera? Electrics for the lights? Do you have transport and a poor weather plan? It can be a lot! Regardless of what you are shooting, be sure to focus on:

Keeping your team safe: Even if it is just you and a model, or you and a landscape, or you and a piece of art. Ensure that no one’s well-being is compromised.

Keeping everyone compliant: Make sure you have permission to photograph models and brands, design certain things, and shoot specific brands. This might be as simple as drawing up a waiver to use a model’s face or involve checking government regulations to particular locations and the requirements laid down for work there.

Keeping on Time: Time can slip away from you! Remember your vision, remember what you are doing and why and keep focused!

Be Prepared: Ensure that you have all of your props, your hair and makeup artists, your models, transport, food, water, lights, camera, batteries, backups, and other equipment long before you shoot. Pull up a checklist and lay it all out. Shot lists, time schedules. All of it. It might help to lend a hand on another shoot to get an idea about what might be useful for you as you prepare for your own.

Have fun: As you begin your journey into design, you are also beginning to learn more about it. Enjoy the process and enjoy discovering your themes, moods, brands, and skills. Every artist evolves along their journey, so appreciate how you grow in this early stage – and remember that you are going to keep evolving throughout your career.

Shoot It

The day has come. You have everything in place, the team is there, and you are ready to go. Remember that this is part of your journey. Have your mood boards, your goals, your vision in mind and go ahead and get it done.

Here’s the thing – things are going to go wrong. Sometimes models get sick or don’t show. Sometimes things break. Sometimes people get stuck in traffic. Sometimes, if it is just you and your design, batteries die, or emergencies occur. Accept that the creative process is not smooth sailing. It is hectic and wild and 100% worth it. Embrace everything you have prepared, but be prepared to be agile too.

Start shooting, start creating, and bring your vision to life. Once everyone has gone home, you can examine your work and begin any post-production you may want to include, such as re-touching photos, contacting collaborators, or simply taking a moment to decompress.

You now have your finished product – and you can do with it what you will! Create canvas prints, submit to magazines, put your look-book together, post to social media, add it to the collection… whatever it looks like to you, do it.

You can now begin the process again for your next project.

And the next one.

Get a Team to Help You!

If you are feeling like this all may be a bit much; then you aren’t alone. Preparing for a shoot is intimidating, but you aren’t doing it solo. There are some fantastic teams out there who facilitate collaboration and creativity. Not only is this an excellent way for those starting out to get hands-on experience with their creative ventures, but it acts as an opportunity to learn and evolve in a safe, effective manner.

The right people can help guide you toward the right target market, teach you about lighting, props, communication, collaboration, and much more. There are great teams out there, and some great deals on offer.

If you are ready to launch your brand / label and don't know where to start or if you can afford what you have in mind it’s time to reach out to us. We have teamed up with Sky Model Management and Wilde Collaborative to ensure we at A Fitting Connection can organise a photo-shoot package to meet everyone’s budget. Feel free to drop us a line and lets see if we can find an avenue that can help you grow in a productive and meaningful manner. Photo-shoots packages that include photography, models, styling, HMUA (hair, make up artist), fitting advice and advertising copy may cost less than you think with our creative business partnerships.

Katrina & Team x

Author’s Bio

Star de Corday-Long - with 12 years experience in the industry both in London and Australia, she knows her way around a photo-shoot to ensure your portfolio or brand is given the exposure required.