A successful engagement or wedding photography and videography assignment comes with preparation. That said, preparation can take some work, but discipline and some handy tips can help you set up for a successful assignment. From preparing a list of pose ideas to shoot during the day, to bringing your gear, there’s much to do before the day of your assignment. If you’re looking for a way to make your assignments a success, some tips will go a long way. Here are some practical ideas and ways to prepare for a photography session or a videography assignment:

The Checklist

Before we get into how to prepare yourself for a photo shoot, let’s discuss how to manage your videography or photography equipment. Creating a checklist of the things you need to remember about the client, a list of equipment to carry and additional materials you’ll need for the day of the photoshoot will help you be prepared for the day. Apart from this, add snacks and water to the list as well, and this will serve as a last-minute reminder to grab something to munch on. A nifty way to make use of the prep checklist is to make two copies. Out of the two lists, paste one of them on a wall, next to a mirror, or paste it to a place you spend most of your time at. This will serve as a reminder for you to prepare for the upcoming photography assignment. The second copy of the checklist can be used when you’re about to leave on the day of the assignment. You can use the second list to cross-check the materials you need to pack and cross off the equipment you’ve packed, and also pack the things you’ve left out.

Creating the Checklist

Now, let’s talk about what goes on the photo shoot preparation checklist. The first thing to note is that there’s no hard and fast rule to creating a checklist. Although there are some common things that you’d find on every photographer and videographer’s checklist, your checklist should be tweaked for your use. You can use some ideas available online to create a checklist, but remember to add things that you don’t see on the ready-to-use lists and think you will need. Here’s a list of things you should add to the checklist:

  • Camera bodies
  • Different lenses that you’d use
  • CF or SD cards
  • Recharging your batteries the night before
  • Battery chargers, just in case you need it.
  • Power banks for your smartphones (just in case)
  • Tripod (or tripods)
  • Reflector
  • OCF lighting equipment. (and don’t forget your batteries!)
  • OFC (off-camera) kit along with the batteries
  • LED lighting (and batteries)
  • Multipurpose tool kit
  • Camera cleaning supplies
  • Towels (if the weather is hot)

That said, make sure that you consider the environment and the nitty-gritty details of the photo shoot venue when you create a checklist. You know what they say, being prepared for any opportunity is the key to success. So, sit down, gather your thoughts, visualize the day and imagine the different things you’d do as you take photos, and then make a list of the things you’d need. This will help you to create the just-right photographer prep kit.

Location Scouting

The term location scouting refers to scouting the area of your scheduled assignment. This includes understanding the layout of a venue, if you’re shooting indoors, and looking out for shady spots to shoot your photos and videos, if you’re shooting outdoors. When it comes to handling an assignment, be it for a photo or video shoot, you should be adept at finding the spots that give you complete control over the composition of the photo. To get this right, you’ll need to practice in different locations. Practice will help you make quick decisions when you’re in an indoor space. Furthermore, it will also help you streamline your shots when you’re outdoors, as well as indoors, since you’ll be accustomed to making a note of the areas that give you a perfect view of the area with the right lighting the moment you get there.

On the day of your assignment, take note of the weather conditions, and keep an eye out for changes in the weather. For a wedding assignment, before you begin setting up your camera and tripods, quickly scan the venue and look for the spots with good lighting. Look for light sources as well. If you want to stage a space for better shots, you can use the venue’s furniture and other elements of the venue to stage the space to shoot photos or videos. Also, if it’s possible for you to visit the location and check the facilities before the assignment, go for it. If not, you can look up the location online, check websites and observe the details to create a strategy for your photo or video shoot.

Photo Shoot Ideas

Being a professional photographer, you probably have a list of poses for the client to be pictured in. Also, you probably know how to ease your subjects into poses. However, before the assignment day, try to come up with certain poses you’d want to click photos in. Your clients can have different inhibitions, or may simply be camera shy, which is why you should throw in some beginner poses to your list of ideas for your clients to try. Visualizing the day and considering different aspects of the day, even the challenges you may face will help you execute a perfect photo shoot! Always remember, good photography is a product of preparedness. If you’re not sure of the mood your client will want from you, speak to them if you can! Talking to the client you’re shooting for will help you understand what they’re looking for from you, and what their idea of the shoot is. This will help you explain the process to them, create a sequence of photoshoot poses and photo shoot styling ideas to help your client find what they’re looking for.

The Hour Before the Assignment

Now, for the last step in assignment prep, be early and be prepared. Apart from the steps listed above, there are certain parts of a photoshoot assignment that can spring out of nowhere. As a professional photographer, be prepared for anything during the day! Take a few minutes to go through the day in your mind, and think of the different ideas you’ve decided on for the photo shoot. On the day of your assignment, try to reach the venue 15-20 minutes before the slated time. This will help you refresh your ideas of the venue and its elements, which will help you come up with some great ideas your clients will love. Also, this will help you craft a plan for the day. For example, if you’re preparing for an engagement photo shoot assignment, you can make use of this time to consider which areas of the venue will be perfect for the shots and to find some inspiration for your photo ideas. And, if you’re preparing for a wedding video or photo shoot assignment, then scouting the venue will give you the time to create a timeline of events, help you figure out when you’d take wedding detail shots, and the areas that will be perfect for the wedding photos.

Prepping Tips: Other Things to Keep in Mind Before the Photo Shoot Assignment Day

  • When you create a videography or photography kit for your assignments, remember to carry your chargers along as well. Be it your camera battery chargers, or your phone chargers. Along with that, carry a power strip as well.
  • Always pack your bag, with camera equipment, power strips, and batteries, along with snacks and water, the night before your assignment day. This will help you to take your time with your equipment, and pack all the necessities, without missing a thing.
  • Cleaning your camera equipment before the day of the shoot is necessary. However, apart from cleaning your camera equipment before your assignment day, you should pack the cleaning supplies as well. Sometimes, the cleaning supplies come in handy. The same goes for a multipurpose tool kit. You never know when you’d need these, so keep them close!
  • Last but not least, before you prepare to get behind the camera and capture beautiful pictures, quickly look up the weather forecast for the day of the assignment. This will help you to create a timeline for the photoshoot assignment or for a video assignment. Also, remember to not put your videography or photography kit in the car just yet. If the weather is too cold or too hot, the camera lenses may get damaged, along with causing camera fog.

No matter what photography or videography assignment you are heading out for, all you need is a clear mind and a clear idea of the day ahead of you. Prepare for the day by looking over your checklist, going through the equipment, cleaning your equipment, and scouting the venue of your assignment. Remember to take a breather during the photo shoot or in-between taking shots for your video. A golden tip to leave you with is to talk to your subjects as you go about capturing their tender moments and smiles. Creating a rapport with the clients, as you ask them to go through different poses, will help them become more comfortable, and bring out their best for the photos.

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