Prep for Your Shoot Like a Pro


As you well know, capturing good photos of your product has become a must in order to maintain a strong marketing strategy. Not only do you need images for your website, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and other social media platforms—you also need them for digital ads, in-store signage, and other printed materials.

A really important question to ask yourself before you ever start snappin’ is: what type of photos do I need?

How each photo is used will serve a different purpose and requires a different strategy. Meaning: plan ahead and think about the type of images you will be taking before you ever pick up the camera. You’ll end up with more effective imagery and save yourself a lot of time creating content!

I decided to bring in an expert to chat with me a little more about the strategy behind getting “the right” shot.


Meet Kirby!

Kirby Cox is the Stylist at the BHLDN Home Office and spent a few years prior to that as part of the Styling team at Free People Home Office. Before we dive in, here are a few facts about Kirby!

  • Native of Birmingham (That’s how we met!)

  • Now lives in Philly, PA

  • Always loved fashion

  • Unintentionally discovered her love for styling

  • Studied Fashion Merchandising in school

  • Interned at Teen Vogue and Marc Jacobs

  • Got her first styling gig through her blog

  • Has worked in the retail and styling industry for 10+ years

Kirby started in a part-time retail sales position and now spends her days on set directing and styling shoots for BHLDN. She understands what it takes to sell an item and how to then apply that knowledge to the content generation process. She has worked her tail off to get where she is and has had the opportunity to work with some really talented and inspiring people along the way.


After almost two hours of excited chatter about styling, retail, fashion, career dreams and goals, and our mutual appreciation for attention to detail—we had so much valuable information we wanted to share with you. So, this is the first of a three-part series with some key tips and takeaways you can start applying to your content generation process!


What we’ll be covering in this series:

Part 1 • How to prep for your photoshoot like a pro.

Part 2 • The difference between lifestyle and ecommerce images, and where and how you should be using each type.

Part 3 • Everything you need to know about working with models.

Plus a special bonus for all of you newsletter subscribers!


Part 1: Prep for your shoot like a pro.

1 || Get inspired! Pull images and create a mood board for the shoot.

Shoot days can be a little chaotic—trying to capture as much content as possible in an extremely short block of time. Creating a mood board ahead of time allows you to really wrap your head around the concept and purpose of the shoot. This will not only result in a more efficient shoot, it will save you a ton of time and help you gain more clarity around how you will be using the images.

Bring the mood board to the shoot with you so that the whole team, including models/talent, can see what they’re working towards. If you are working with models, don’t forget to pull inspiration for poses you like. This can be such a helpful tool to visually communicate what you want them to do. Don’t hesitate to do the pose yourself to show them.

Remember every shoot can’t be everything. You’re going to have a lot of ideas. Try to focus and don’t cram all of your creative ideas into one shoot.

2 || Scout a location.

Use your mood board to determine the type of environment that will work best for your shoot—indoors, outdoors, studio, etc.

If you’re shooting with natural light, we recommend popping by the location at the time you plan on shooting so you can see what the light does. You may need to adjust the time of your shoot accordingly and it’s better to be overly cautious than scrambling to find another location the day of.

Also, try to pick a location that gives you plenty of options for backgrounds so you don’t have to relocate and waste time. Think about what you’ll be shooting and what kind of background will look best—color, texture, dark, light, etc.

3 || Work out the details and coordinate with your team.

Determine if you need to outsource any help—models, photographer, stylist, hair and makeup, shoot assistant, etc. Depending on how many people you are coordinating with or the size of the shoot, it can be extremely helpful to schedule an  in-person meeting with the whole team ahead of time. For smaller shoots a group text, email, or chat may be sufficient to tie down the date/times.

4 || Think about props and gather them ahead of time.

This is something that can easily get overlooked but make a big impact in your photos. It’s all in the details! Again, refer back to your mood board for some inspiration. We recommend bringing more than you think you need. Grab a couple different versions of a prop—ex. If you need a coffee mug, grab 3-4 different designs. It’s always better to have excess!

5 || Generate a shot list.

The worst thing is spending hours doing a photoshoot only to discover you didn’t actually get a shot you needed. A shot list can be extremely helpful to ensure things don’t slip through the cracks and to help maximize shoot time. Here are some basic things to include: product/item you’re shooting, location, model, props needed, and where the image will be used (website, social media, etc). Knowing how you will use the images will dictate how you shoot the item—portrait, landscape, detail shot, etc.


That’s a wrap for part one of our three-part series!!

Next week we’ll be talking about lifestyle and ecommerce photography: what the difference is, the purpose of each, and how to use them effectively.

I’d love to hear from you on this subject. What are some of your main struggles with generating your own content? Do you have a hard time finding models? Are you struggling with your content looking the same? Leave a comment below.

Shout out to Kirby for sharing all of her expertise and insight with us. You can follow along with Kirby over on Instagram at @kirbyjoanna.

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