Making The Most Of Your Professional Photoshoot, a 3-part series

Do you enjoy things that are stale? Neither do I, but that’s exactly how my website/blog was feeling as signs of the fall season (however subtle they may be in Los Angeles) began to descend upon my beach town last year. I decided that a major facelift was in order and promptly hired Cliff, my friend and web designer extraordinaire, to lead the site’s redesign. Afterall, what good is a lifestyle blog if it’s not depicting your most current experiences and goals?

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So, while Cliff kept his plate full with Wordpress, page categories, and code, my mind was already fantasizing about the second crucial stage of this re-boot: photography. I desperately needed updated photos. Pinterest became my friend, a treasure box of poses and sentiments, and soon enough I was ready to enlist a photographer…but who?

 

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The first name that came to mind was local talent Lauren Pressey*, whose classic, never forced look I had always been attracted to. Her and I had collaborated for magazine editorials on numerous occasions yet had never had the pleasure of working directly with one another. That all changed over the course of dirty chai lattes and a brainstorming session at Gumtree Cafe. I hired her right on the spot—which sounds way more dramatic than it was—and we scheduled a tentative photoshoot day for two weeks out. That’s when it started to feel real. When I checked my e-mails later that evening, Lauren had already created a private Pinterest board as a way to share looks and get on the same page visually.

Although it was easy to get distracted by the “glam” of a brewing photoshoot, I knew that I still had to perform the heavy-lifting. What is my overall concept? How many looks do I want to capture? How will the images be incorporated into the layout of my website? To sort through all these ideas and expectations, you really have to focus on asking the simple questions, and it REALLY helps to have an older sister who is willing to help navigate. 

I’m going to share with you the prompts that she sent me, along with my answers, because I think that they were extremely helpful in solidifying a focused and purposeful game plan. Whether your goal is to capture a single shot to post on Instagram or a series of images to complement a feature story, you’ll find this to be a useful exercise. 

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Close your eyes and imagine you’re opening your web page…

What are you doing in the pic?

I’m smiling directly at the camera or off to the side, I’m still and look comfortable, casual. I’m cradling a cup of coffee or leaning against a wall.

How do you want it to make people feel?

I want people to feel relaxed, inspired. I want the photos to make people think, “She looks like she’d be a pleasure to work with!”

Where are you?

I am outside or near/in one of my favorite neighborhood spots.

What time of day is it?

Morning/afternoon

Are you beachy? Professional?

I am not dressed in workout girl, nor am I wearing an “interview” outfit…I look like I’m going on a date, or am about to hunker down in a cafe and write for hours.

Front and center or off to the side?

Off to the side.

A series of images or each communicating something different?

Images that can stand alone but no single shot seems too far from the pack

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Congratulations—you’ve tackled the “big picture” items and are making major strides towards honing in on your vision. Now it’s time to focus on the next step: location and wardrobe. Stay tuned for Part II of my Photoshoot Series where I breakdown how to develop your shot list.

*Feel free to view her work here