The Key to a Successful Photo Shoot

Success Is All In The Planning

Its always wonderful when a photo shoot goes according to plan. Its even better when the shoot exceeds your expectations. That moment when you download your images to the PC and realise you have captured something special. More often than not, the success or failure of a photo shoot comes down to the planning and preparation that you’ve invested in the shoot. You can improve the success rate of your photo shoots by following a few, but key, planning tips that will take the guess work out of the session.


Visualise The Photo Shoot

One of the best places to start in organising your shoot is to pre-visualise what you are hoping to accomplish from the shoot. What kind of images are you hoping to capture, the overall look and feel of what you are aiming to capture. For this particular shoot I was approached by Alternative Model Sara Vicious who approached me after seeing the results of previous shoots that I had recently collaborated on with other Alternative and Goth models. Sara had a very particular image in mind that she wanted to incorporate with specific a wardrobe that she had recently purchased.  Over the following weeks we continued to communicate and collaborate on the direction we wanted the shoot to take and it became obvious that this was going to be a bit more comprehensive than the usual photo shoot.


Creating The Mood Board

The next step in the collaboration was for me to create a mood board that included a number of drawings and images that we felt captured the overall look and tone of the images we wanted to create. We decided that we wanted to tell the dark story of one woman’s journey from a dark, evil lust that burned within her, to the insanity that eventually consumes her. We shared ideas, planned sets and collected the props and wardrobe required to bring the shoot together. Not only did this help us both to understand exactly what we need to do on the day of the shoot, it also allowed me to begin to develop a lighting plan that would be essential to the success of the shoot.


Developing the Run Sheet 

In order to give us the best chance of the shoot running smoothly on the day, the last element of the planning was to create a run sheet. The run sheet broke down the seven scenes we were hoping to shoot, taking into consideration the backdrops, the lighting, wardrobe changes and props. Being organised to this level allowed us to build the shoot progressively and ensure we were optimising each of the lighting set-ups and wardrobe changes.



A few words about the equipment used in the Fantasy of the Flesh photo shoot

From a photography point of view, this was a fairly straightforward shoot technically. It was shot in an Aerial Circus School studio that provided us with plenty of space to work with. I used a Westcott Modern Vintage backdrop for a number of scenes and a simple grey paper roll for the remaining scenes.

Lighting for the shoot was accomplished using three Canon 600exRT Speedlites, reflected through a couple of umbrellas. In addition, I had the opportunity to play with the Gobo that I recently purchased that allowed me to project the gothic window into a couple of the scenes and leafy pattern into others. The Gobo was great for adding atmosphere and intrigue where none existed.

A great looking antique chair and a number of simple props and everything was in place for an enjoyable and creative shoot.

Spending a bit of time planning your shoot, visualising what you are hoping to create and collaborating with the other artists involved will greatly improve your chances of having a successful shoot and creating stunning images

The Complete Pixel runs regular Studio and Location shoots to assist you in developing your photography and lighting skills as well as helping you build your confidence in working with portrait subjects and models. For more information and upcoming dates and locations view our Studio and Location Shoot page.

Follow us on Facebook to stay up to date with upcoming sessions, tips and tricks and our informative blogs.[maxbutton id=”7″]

Brian Bird
Follow Me

Other posts you might enjoy


Subscribe to The Complete Pixel Newsletter.

Subscribe Now!

Social media is great for getting the occasional update, but the only way to ensure you never miss any important updates on workshops, photography tips, upcoming photoshoots or promotions is by subscribing to our newsletter & special offers via email. 

You Can Also Follow Us On Social Media

Subscribe to The Complete Pixel Newsletter

Social media is great for getting the occasional update, but the only way to ensure you never miss any important updates on workshops, photography tips, upcoming photoshoots or promotions is by subscribing to our newsletter & special offers via email.


  • Dates of up-coming Workshops
  • Photography Escapes & Day Shoots
  • Adobe Lightroom Updates & New Features
  • Photography Tips & Tricks
Close this popup