Being a blogger or content creator is all fun and games until you actually do need to create the content and get up early in order to do so. I was not always a fashion blogger and therefore did not have to wake up with the sun to meet up with my photographers at various locations around the city. And while rising early at the weekend can be tedious, I have found ways to prepare for a photoshoot that make the whole process more enjoyable and a lot smoother.
Step 1: I scout locations
Not to say that I never have a last minute or spontaneous photoshoot, but I do overall tend to prepare photoshoots ahead of time with locations in mind. I create seasonal content, which often means that locations will be dependent on seasons, celebrations, holidays. Some are ephemeral (i.e., cherry trees, wisteria, etc), others are in areas of high footfall (i.e., Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, Hudson Yards, etc), a few are one-day-a-year type of places (i.e., Chelsea in Bloom).
Those specific locations are the main reason why I prepare for a photoshoot ahead of time. In addition, where I go will determine the day of week and time of the photoshoot. Let’s look back at Christmas as an example. I wanted content with each major holiday display. Fortunately, some are away in the Upper East Side and therefore pretty available. On the other hand, others are very popular and always attracting crowds.
While I have learnt to be more comfortable shooting and posing in front of curious strangers, I have to say, I’d rather not have an audience. That’s why I tend to shoot very early in the morning. I have had photoshoots starting as early as 7am so that I could avoid being surrounded by crowds or having to rush each location to let other people get their own pictures.
Some other locations are so ephemeral and sometimes even weather dependent that I have to have an impeccable timing. Let’s look at cherry blossom season in New York City. The best time to see Yoshino trees is beginning to mid-April. I know that because Google makes this information pretty available. And while it is mostly accurate, it may still change from one year to the next. For example, early spring 2023 was very warm, which may have helped blossoms to bloom earlier. In 2022, the rain prevented wisteria in Central Park to properly blossom and reach peak.
By researching and selecting locations, I am better able to schedule photoshoots ahead of time and secure dates during popular times. Photographers get busier and more in-demand during the Holidays and cherry blossom seasons for example, and may not be available for a last minute shoot! Once I know where I want to go, I share those locations with my photographer so she can get an idea of our surroundings and how to work on compositions.
Step 2: I search for inspo
Once I have selected locations for a photoshoot, I look for inspiration. This can be anything from outfits, props, accessories, angles, composition, etc. A regular photoshoot is two hours, up to four hours during the holiday season. In that time, I am usually able to fit at least six outfits. Because I search for inspo as I prepare for a photoshoot, I know exactly what I want and need. This in turn makes directing the shoot so much easier.
Side note, I also have a changing cape, which makes changing into another outfit incredibly fast. No longer do I need to haphazardly change in front of everyone or find a public restroom somewhere. I purchased a portable changing room two years ago and this is probably the best purchase I ever made!
I look for inspo on Pinterest and on Instagram. Seeing how other content creators have shot certain locations, the angles they have used, the composition they have chosen, really helps. Sometimes, when selecting a totally new location, it can be difficult to actually know what to do there. It also happens that I forget to make full use of my surroundings and may have ignored an angle that would have looked amazing.
In addition, not being an English native myself, sometimes I do struggle to share my vision with words. This makes it difficult for my photographer to understand what I am looking for. Having searched for inspo and being able to directly show what I want makes the process easier. Now, I am not saying I replicate those poses or angles. They are more of an indication of what I’d like to do or could try to do. At the end of the day, the outfit I will choose and circumstances will totally change the original vision.
Step 3: I pick outfits for each location
When I work with a brand on a collaboration, it is the outfit that determines the location. However, most of the time, I pick my locations first and then the outfits to match. In general however, I am a big fan of bright colors, bold patterns and strong contrast. You’ll never see me blend in the background in a photo. If you’ve been reading this blog a while or following me on Instagram, you probably already know that anyways!
By scouting locations ahead of time, I am able to sort of know what dominant colors will be in the background. And while it is never a given that my choice of outfits will go well with the location, it stills increases the odds. However, at the end of the day, I can only know if I indeed chose wisely on the day, while on location.
For example, when I prepared outfits for my photoshoot in Central Park during cherry blossom season, I tried to figure out which dominant colors would be in the background. Being in a park with lawns, trees, foliage and blooms, my not-so-wild guess settled on pink, purple, green and brown. Stroke of genius, grass and foliage are indeed green, tree trunks brown and blossoms pink or purple. Wow.
All joking aside, this helped choose complimentary colors such as yellow, turquoise, lilac, pink, etc that helped create a nice contrast with each background. This, even as we shot the same outfit in different locations, thus thwarting my plans a bit. The photos I got were amazing so I am not complaining. The background will also help determine what type of dress or skirts I will wear.
Yes, I very rarely wear pants or trousers, just so you know.
In locations with wide angles, I usually go for a midi or maxi dress to create volume and movement or to take up space. In locations where I expect to sit, i.e. stairs, fountain, etc, I also tend to pick a long dress so that it can spread all around me for a princess effect. Looking at some of the Holiday displays, I picked some fluffy short dresses to match the playfulness of the background.
Even when I travel, I try to scout locations ahead of time and to bring some outfits so that they would look cool on such backgrounds. However, most of the time, I simply clean forget or just take a quick snap to share on stories without really doing much more.
Step 4: I pack the night before
This one seems so obvious. However, up until recently, I really was not very organized when planning photoshoots and packed at the last minute. This has changed since I started working with my own photographer and getting up really early to do so. As I have to wake up at dawn to get on photoshoot locations before anyone else does, nights before tend to be shorter. Unfortunately for me, I am a big sleeper and need seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
And so when I have to get up early, I always try to actually get up as late as I can. If packing the night before helps me get ten to fifteen minutes of extra sleep, then I will pack the night before. In all fairness, it also makes the whole process a lot smoother and less stressful. If everything is packed the night before, I am less likely to rush into it and forget the things I need.
When I prepare for a photoshoot, I also get to lay out my first outfit nicely with all the accessories and shoes ready to go. The only thing I have to do in the morning besides taking a shower is putting on my makeup. And getting dressed of course. But since everything is ready and waiting for me, it is all very straightforward and I am ready to get out the door, jump in an Uber and drive to the first location.
Packing for a photoshoot is like packing for a weekend trip. You don’t need that much with you but it’s always better to have everything sorted the night before so that you avoid the stress of last minute actions and changes.
Bonus step: Transportation
One last thing I also do when I prepare for a photoshoot is to map my way to the first location. Will I need an Uber, can I get there using the Subway or would a bike ride do? Could I actually walk there? How long would each method take me and how convenient would they be?
Obviously the size of my bag or suitcase will determine which method of transportation I pick. As well as the time and distance. Most of the time, it is an Uber. Knowing that also helps allocating time in the morning to get ready and knowing when to actually set up my alarm for.
What do you prepare for a photoshoot? Do you do it the night before or the morning of? When planning a photoshoot, what is the first thing you do? What do you think of my process?
Thanks for stopping by. I hope you liked this post.
See you soon,