It doesn’t matter if your shoot centers around people or products, or if it takes place in a studio or on location. The key to achieving the final results you want all comes down to meticulous planning. 

Even the world’s most talented photographer can only go so far with improvisation. Planning for a successful shoot should start weeks, or even months, before the production day. Our essential checklist will make sure you don’t lose sight of props, wardrobe, shot lists or contracts.

Tips for booking talent and services for a photoshoot

The following list relates specifically to people and vendors you may need to execute and support the photoshoot:


This one is, hopefully, obvious. Do expect that your photographer may require an assistant for complex or lengthy shoots. If your shoot requires specialized or advanced equipment, you may also be charged a rental or equipment use fee.


Talent agencies will provide availability based on your desired shoot date. You will typically pay an hourly rate for the model’s time, plus an agency fee. Be sure to take into account the model’s total time on set, which includes makeup, wardrobe and sometimes even travel and meals.

Hair & makeup artists

Whether or not you are working with models, we strongly recommend bringing in hair and makeup specialists. Even if you are striving for a natural look, an experienced makeup artist can achieve a make-up free aesthetic while still smoothing over blemishes and lines that the camera can enhance. Look for hair and makeup artists with production experience, as they tend to understand the fast-paced environment of a photoshoot and can jump in between takes to make adjustments.


Even for a half-day shoot, you will be responsible for factoring in meal breaks. It is customary to provide coffee, bottled water and light refreshments for people on set, and you may consider bringing in a catered breakfast or lunch for longer shoots. The majority of venues will prohibit any alcoholic beverages, so it’s best to avoid these altogether.

Tips for booking a studio or production set

There are many easy online booking tools available today for finding and reserving spaces for your shoot, from studios, cycloramas  and production sets to entire homes and events centers. They include Peerspace, Giggster and many other local options. 

Here are key features to consider when renting your space:

On-site equipment and backdrops

Many professional rentals will include extra camera stands, C-stands, sandbags and more. Many others may have various backdrops and props on site as well. Some equipment, such as lighting, may come with an additional fee

Elevator availability

 If you don’t check for an elevator in a multi-story location, it will be the last time you make that mistake. Make sure your rental space has an elevator to make unloading and breaking down equipment easier and faster – with less risk of injury to any team members. If you need to bring in large props, furniture or equipment, be sure to check if there is a freight elevator, which tends to be larger.

Off-street parking

Many urban locations lack any on-site parking, such as a garage or lot. If your team will require a van or truck, make sure you know ahead of time where you can unload and park it. Look into availability of off-street parking and parking rates, which you can share with your team, models and other vendors ahead of time to prevent any late arrivals.


Many spaces will require that your business carry an insurance policy that will cover any damages. In most cases, your business insurance policy should work just fine. 

Rental duration

Many rental spaces will offer half or full-day bookings, with the option to add on hours. It is always advisable to reserve your space with a buffer, to account for any troubleshooting, delays or hiccups on set. When you reserve, make sure to factor in a minimum of 1-2 hours for loading and setting up. Your photography team may require even more time to prepare in certain lighting situations. When you consider the breakdown time at the end, you may find that you need more than one day to adequately capture everything on your shot list.

What to buy for your photoshoot

Making a photoshoot feel authentic and credible means capturing a moment, a feeling or an action. That requires more than people and products for the right context. Here’s a quick list of what you may need to buy to furnish your photoshoot.


 If you are using models, you need to provide their clothes. While you may ask that models bring a basic item, like a pair of jeans, it is your responsibility to obtain their sizes and provide wardrobe items on set. Many production teams will also have fittings to make sure clothing items look just right. (Bonus tip: Make sure you have a professional-grade steamer on set for getting rid of any unsightly wrinkles).

Room props and furniture

 If you need to create a set – such as a nursery or a kitchen – you need to provide the furniture, accessories and props needed to bring that space to life. Even if you have a kitchen on set, you may want to adapt the space to your desired aesthetic with a curated set of props.

Product photo props

 If you are planning a product photography session, you may need specialized props to complement your product, such as ingredients, accent items or risers.

Product prototypes

 If you are shooting a product, don’t bring just one or two. Make sure you have a full set of the product, in all variations (color, size, etc.). The product will get smudgy and you will want the ability to swap in new ones during the day. You also want to avoid any breakage or malfunctions that could halt the shoot.

Photoshoot contracts you should have in place

When you are capturing images of people and products for distribution and marketing, you need to have your legal paperwork in order to protect you and the team members involved. Here’s a guide to the standard agreements you should have in place:

Vendor contracts

Make sure you have contracts in place with every vendor stating the date and time of the shoot and outlining the services in detail.  A verbal promise to appear on the day of shoot is not adequate confirmation.

Business insurance

If you are booking a studio or production set, you will likely need to  show proof of business insurance that protects you in case of any damages or injuries on set. 

Model contracts and releases

The model contract is typically made with the modeling agency to confirm the pricing and shoot date and mdoel details. You should also create a model release form that grants you permission to use the model’s image for stated purposes, such as advertising and promotion. You will especially want a model release form for youth models, which should be signed by the youth’s parent or guardian.

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