How to prep for a blog or instagram photoshoot

How to prep for a blog or instagram photoshoot

Today I wanted to talk about how I prep for my photoshoots. After years of blogging and countless shoots, I learned that some of my most successful photoshoots have come from being well organized and prepared before a shoot. While sometimes I do just run out and capture content on a whim, most of the time, a lot of planning goes into my photos. My photos always come out stronger when a concept and planning goes behind it. This is the best and most fun part of my job. Coming up with a concept, researching, prepping and executing. It just fuels my soul!

This post is for those of you who are new bloggers or simply for those trying to figure out how to make their shoots the most successful they can. It may seem like a lot to do, but I promise you, this gets easier, quicker and smoother every single time you do it.

How I Prep for a Blog or Instagram Photoshoot :

Questions I ask myself and things I do to make sure I’m well prepared:

What am I shooting?

Bag? Full outfit with details? Just accessories, Lifestyle, hotel, a location? A sponsored product? Just sharing a moment? Knowing what you will be shooting is always the first step so you can work everything else around it.

What is the purpose/message of the photo I’m trying to create?

Do you want people to book at your hotel you are staying at? Do you want someone to feel inspired by your travels and try all the restaurants/places you’ve stopped at? Do you want someone to feel something when they see this photo? Do you want the person seeing the photo to immediately want to buy what you are wearing? Find your purpose or you may feel lost.

What mood am I going for?

Nostalgic, sad, moody, mysterious, goofy, happy? Try to always keep in mind exactly what mood you are aiming for so that it comes through to the viewer looking at the photo. The mood is almost the most important thing for me when I shoot. For example, If I am shooting with my husband and trying to convey the mood I feel when I am with him, I probably don’t want to come off angry, bored or bummed out. Knowing the mood will also inform you on what kind of location and lighting you will want.

Where will I be during the shoot and at what time?

Will you be traveling? Is it raining? How will the light be at this hour? If you know where you will be and what type of location you are looking for, then it can help you figure out what time of day is best to shoot and what the light will be like at that spot. Do you plan on going at a time where there will be lots of people? Cars? Tourists? Is it going to be empty and perfectly lit? Always good to know ahead of time to avoid any unplanned situations or at least plan for plan B in case something isn’t the way you were planning. Lately, I have been really enjoying shooting at night because there are fewer people, the light can be nice and moody. Plus, I know I won’t have to worry about the sun going down at a certain hour.


Plan Accordingly:

Gather all the info needed:

This is the part I love. This is your mood board time. Create a mood board to figure out exactly the whole vibe, colors, feel you will go for. I find amazing images off of Pinterest, Google, Instagram, Tumblr and create a board on Pinterest from all my faves based on the vibe I am going for.

Shot list.

If it’s an important sponsored shoot, it helps a lot to have a shot list. Sometimes I like to make a separate private Pinterest board with shot list inspiration or will just write it all down on my notepad on my phone. It can be easy to forget the simplest things when you are on a strict schedule, the sun is going down and you are paying a photographer by the hour.

Organize yourself.

Organizing yourself is the MOST important. If you forgot your shoes to an outfit it can ruin the whole shoot. Not to mention if you forget to charge your battery camera or forget your memory cards. I can’t tell you how many times I forgot a memory card when I first started my blog. Then I had no choice but to reschedule the shoot. Make sure you have all props and anything extra you may need well prepared ahead of time! If you are shooting multiple outfits try them on and shoot them on your iPhone just for documentation’s sake. This way, you won’t have to waste time trying to remember what’s next during a shoot.

Pick a date.

Coordinate with your photographer ahead of time and write down a time and date. You should have an idea of how long the shoot will take you after a few photoshoots with that photographer. If you aren’t sure, your photographer may be able to help you with timing questions. Scheduling more time than needed may be a smart choice so you aren’t rushed. I find that if you are calm and have time, the creativity flows better.

Make sure you and your photographer are on the same page.

Let your photographer in on what you are going for. They are the ones shooting the photo so they need to know exactly what you want. Maybe share your mood board with them and let them know what product, item or thing is the most important to focus on during the shoot.


I want to share some examples of the above 3 photos to share how I prepped for each of them:

The first photo was for a client that wanted some images to use on their social media/website. It was a sleepwear shoot for Fall. They created the mood board for me and vibe they wanted so I did some brainstorming to figure out how to make their vision fit with my brand and aesthetic. I made sure the room looked perfect and chose some props that would help me feel more natural and keep the photo more lively.

For the second photo, I wanted to talk about a summer reading list in the caption of the photo on Instagram. A coffee shop and some reading material would be easy and cute.  No mood boards were needed for this one (since I knew exactly what I wanted), but there was a bit of location scouting involved (mostly through Instagram). I googled local coffee shops and was reminded of this one I was already familiar with. This coffee shop gets packed early and is small so I showed up a bit early and made sure we had the magic spot (a.k.a. that “magic light” corner). The outfit was planned to pop against the geometric shapes that would be behind me and brought some flowers to dress up and soften the modern scene a bit. Even this simple shoot had a bit of prep involved.

The third photo was for a 4th of July post.  I mostly spend my 4th of July on the beach and go into the night (as we wait for the fireworks to go off around 9 pm). Even though this was shot about a week in advance, I wanted to make sure it would be very similar to how my actual 4th of July would feel. That way, I could enjoy the 4th with my friends and family and not have to worry about shooting and posting on that same day. Sparklers were my first choice for a prop #pyroFrank. We planned to be there right after sunset so that we would get that perfect light and the sparklers wouldn’t get lost in the photo. It was actually quite hard to find sparklers and luckily I had planned where to get them days in advance before the shoot. For this shoot, I had a big mood board of girls on the beaches on the 4th of July for outfit inspiration. This ended up looking completely different than my mood board and love how original and fun it came out!

To wrap it up, a little bit of prep before a shoot is always helpful! I hope this post helps. Have fun shooting guys! Just remember, this process is one of the best parts about blogging!

For more blogging tips check out my blogging tips section here!

xx F