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Concept and Pre-Production for a Photoshoot

Pre-production before conducting a photoshoot is very important. It is the first stage of planning any photoshoot. Pre-production includes conceptualising, planning and budgeting after which the photographer starts shooting and produces the imagery. The photographer needs to spend time planning and getting these things in place before undertaking a shoot.

One can make a checklist and follow it.

Photography Pre-Production Checklist-


One of the first things is to come up with a concept for the shoot. What is the purpose of the shoot? The message? What is the story? What is the overall image you are trying to project? These questions need to be discussed to have a clear concept and decide on one or a few themes or ideas to start planning!


The budget has to be decided for the shoot and the other decisions will be made accordingly. Such as, booking a make-up artist, stylist, the number of images required, location of the shoot, props to be used, size of the crew etc.

Location Scouting-

The location could be indoors or outdoors. Either way one has to go to location scouting, check out the different options for the shoot and decide where and how the photograph will be shot. It is a good idea to visit the location at the same time as when the shoot needs to be conducted. This will help the photographer in deciding what kind of lighting will be required to shoot and how many lights/reflectors would be needed. There are a few more things to take into consideration. Such as, if any permission is required and will the weather conditions affect your shoot.


The photographer can provide a portfolio with his previous work and also give the client a storyboard to understand what kind of imagery will be achieved. The client could also provide the photographer with a few reference images – helping the photographer in understanding what look the client wishes to have.

You can have a look at our photography work here.

Mood board-

Researching and developing a mood board is essential. It helps the photographer and client conceptualise and get an idea of how to go about the shoot. It is also very useful for gaining inspiration and planning your photoshoot.


The lighting is one of the most important factors. The photographer should decide which soft boxes will be required, number of reflectors and other accessories to get the best results. One should always try and do a trial run of the lighting. Specially, if you are shooting indoors at your studio you can always set up the lighting a day before the shoot and do some test shots with your assistant.


If you are undertaking a product or fashion or other related commercial work, you would need to get the props and backdrops in place. Undoubtedly, it is better to use the mood board as a guide and arrange the props and backdrops beforehand in serial order according to each shot.


The size of the crew will completely depend on the scale of the shoot and what kind of shoot it is. For example, for a fashion shoot you would definitely need a stylist and make-up artist.

Test Shoot-

If the photographer has time, they should definitely try and do a test shoot beforehand to check the lighting and also the frame of the image. For headshots and portraits one can also do some test shots with their assistants.

Discussing Post Production-

Additionally, you can always discuss the post production of the shoot. Whether the client would be requiring any editing or retouching for the images and the final number of images to be given.


Personally, we feel the pre-production stage of any photoshoot is quite important. Developing mood boards, location scouting, arranging the props and making bookings is key. This preparation is very helpful for the next steps of your photoshoot. One should definitely put in the time and energy to plan and make these decisions beforehand. It makes the entire process much simpler and makes your shoot move smoothly.

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