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  • David

What to expect from a studio photoshoot

Updated: Mar 10, 2022

Photographer taking a photo of a customer

Every photographer has a different way of working, and after having worked with many clients, in many different settings, I have developed my own photoshoot process, which allows me to work effectively and deliver creative and high quality results, within a set timeframe.

I remember some of my customers mentioning that they were very relieved when they found out that I would be talking them through everything and guiding them through the whole photoshoot process, step by step.

Now I am not saying that every photographer will do that, but when you book a shoot with me, there is no need to worry about finding yourself in front of the camera without knowing what to do, as I will help you and guide you through the whole process.

Said that, I thought that writing a quick article on my photoshoot process might give you a bit more of an idea of what to expect when you come for the shoot, and further relieve the pressure.

The photoshoot process

Let’s start from the very beginning, you have arrived at my studio, I have offered you the customary glass of water, and you have comfortably taken a seat in my studio.

Customer arriving at a photographer's studio

The purpose of the photos

When creating a photo, it is very important to keep in mind what the final purpose of the photo will be, as that will help us create images that deliver the results we are after.

For this reason during the first part of the photoshoot we are going to have a quick informal chat, during which I will try to find out a bit more about you and about the purpose of the photos.

Photographer during a studio photoshoot

As an example if you are self-employed and need personal branding photos to use on your website, and across the social media platforms you use to advertise your business, I will try to find out a bit more about your business, your customers, and the way you would like to present yourself.

If you are an actor, I will try to find out a bit more about what kind of roles you normally play, or which roles you would like to play, as that will give me an idea of what mood we are trying to create.

Outfits, backgrounds, and props

Photographer preparing the studio for a photoshoot

We will then go through your outfits, and I will show you a few backgrounds and props that would work well for the type of photos that we want to create.

I will then advise you on what outfits will work best not just in terms of colours and how well they will work with the backgrounds and props we will use, but also in terms of how suitable they are for the mood and image we are trying to create.

Once we have selected the outfits, backgrounds, and props that we are going to work with, we will create a running order, which will allow us to work efficiently and make the best of the time we have.

How I direct you

During the photoshoot I will help you and direct you throughout, but I find it useful to talk you through how I work before we actually start shooting.

I normally start by explaining how perspective, body language, and facial expression need to work seamlessly together to create the image, and explain to you how we are going to achieve that.

In this way, if for instance I ask you to lean forward slightly, you will know that the reason I am asking is because due to perspective, if you lean back too much your head will look too small in the photo.

Knowing why I am directing you in a certain way will help you to work with me in a seamless way and it will give us much better results.

Lighting set-ups

There are plenty of different lighting set-ups, but we need to use the ones that fit with the mood we are trying to create, and/or the message we are trying to convey.

Based on what we discussed during the very first part of the photoshoot process, when we were talking about the purpose of the photos, I will already have in mind a few lighting set-ups that will work well with the mood we want to create.

However, the lighting set-up we use will not only affect the mood of the photo, but it will also affect the way you look. The light source, and how it is used will affect things like contrast, depth, and texture, and depending on your features certain light set-ups might work better than others.

I will start the shoot by fine tuning the lighting set-up, and I will review the photos with you, until we find the perfect mix.

Photographer reviewing photos with a customer

During this part of the shoot you can relax and don’t have to worry about body language or facial expression. Especially if you have never done a photoshoot before, this will give you time to relax and get used to being in front of the camera.

Posture and body language

Portrait photo of a male model

Once we have nailed the lighting, I will move my attention to your posture and body language, which just like in real life, are really important.

As an example, our posture starts from our feet, and we normally tend to shift our wait onto one foot, which makes our posture look natural and relaxed. However, I have noticed that if people do not know what to do in front of the camera, they will tend to stand with their weight equally distributed between their feet, which will make the whole posture look rigid and unnatural. But not to worry, as I will be looking out for that, as well as other factors that affect your posture, and I will help you with tips and pointers that will allow you to relax and assume a more natural posture.

Another thing I often notice is that when in front of the camera people tend to become overly aware of their posture, and often do not know what to do with their hands, which might lead to hands hanging by the sides, or fidgeting in a way that could be misinterpreted as stress, or discomfort in the photo. In real life for instance, you would not really think about it and assume a natural posture without giving it any thought. Your hands would either be in your pockets, holding something, or you’d be using them to communicate and illustrate your point by gesticulating.

Throughout the session I will keep an eye on your body language, and if I notice anything that requires adjusting, I will give you pointers and direct you in a way that will help you assume a posture and body language that is in line with what we are trying to communicate with the photos.

Facial expression

Studio headshot smiling

The last stage of the photoshoot process will focus on your facial expression, which is a crucial part of the photograph. We could have perfect lighting, a fantastic posture, and an amazing set-up, but if the facial expression does not look genuine, the photo will not work.

This can be the part that takes the longest, and some people will find it easier than others.

The main difference between posture and facial expression, is that I can help you to adjust your posture by simply giving you a few tips on where to place your hands, and guide you from behind the camera, but when it comes to facial expression you are the only one in charge of your facial muscles and it won’t be as easy as simply asking you to lean forward slightly, or put one hand in your pocket.

For that reason I have developed a set of techniques, like for instance visualisation, to help you bring out a genuine facial expression that fits with the mood we are trying to create.

How many different set-ups can we do?

The number of different set-ups and outfits that we manage to do will depend on how quickly we are working. There might be times when everything seems to fall into place at once, whereas at other times we will have to spend a bit more time on facial expression or posture in order to nail it, and this will really change from person to person, and depend also on the complexity of what we are trying to create.

As an example, if I notice that the facial expression does not look genuine, I will focus more on that and help you with tips and pointers until we nail it.

Once we are happy with the lighting, posture, and facial expression, we will keep taking photos with that one set-up until we have a good number of photos that we are happy with before moving on to the next set-up and/or outfit.


This process will be repeated with each set-up, but it will become easier each time. That’s because the first time we go through the process I will be explaining things as we go through, but as we get into the swing of things and you start relaxing a bit more in front of the camera we will start getting the results we want much quicker.

At times we might just go for a different outfit, and stick with the same set-up, lighting, and pose, whereas at other times we might want to change everything and create a completely different look.

The end of the shoot

As you can see there are many different parts that need to fit with one another in order to create photos that look genuine and communicate effectively with the viewer. For this reason the photoshoot will go really quickly, but by following my custom made photoshoot process, we will make the best out of the time we have together.

At the end of the shoot we are going to sit down and I will quickly go through the next steps with you, including how to select your favourite photographs from the online viewing gallery. I will also explain about the editing process, and I will answer any questions you might have.

I really hope you have found this article useful, and do not hesitate to get in touch should you have any questions.

My studio is located at 59 Clearbook Way, Stepney Green, London, E1 0SD

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