Steven Brokaw Photography

Welcome to my portfolio site including photos, my blog, contact information and social media links

Photoshoot Preparation - The Business Side

Elayna Wright - SEEN Open Shoot-87.jpg

I believe a successful photoshoot has 3 primary phases. They are:

  • Preparation

  • Photoshoot

  • Post processing

There is more work involved in a photoshoot like setup, delivering promised images, etc., etc. but they can fit under these three phases. In my opinion none of the 3 are more important than the other unless you are just shooting for fun.

We could discuss each all day, but I want to talk about Preparation. If you don’t prepare correctly the chances of a successful shoot diminish. Let’s talk about some of the things you can do to make this phase easier, and as a model / makeup artist / stylist you can do to help.

But Steve, “I’m a creative I’m no good at the business end”. Or, “I can’t let all the preparation affect my creativity. I just want to let it flow.” OK, just stop. Like I said, unless you are just shooting for fun then you owe it to your client and others on the team to do a bit of prep work. It’s really not that hard.


  1. Unless it’s a client or another creative person who is coming up with the concept of the shoot, it’s important to determine the theme or concept of the photoshoot. What are you trying to accomplish? Are you doing an editorial vibe, commercial, lifestyle, implied, etc. Many of the subsequent decisions are based on this.

  2. Once you have a concept in mind create a mood board. This isn’t critical but it helps everyone on the creative team or simply your model / subject know what you hope to accomplish. Lots of smiles, specific clothing, what is the makeup style. Your mood board sets the tone.

  3. Schedule the team, date & time. This often takes the most time in my experience. Coordinating schedules can be frustrating and challenging unless everyone follows up promptly and effectively. It’s important in my book to followup effectively yourself. If you’ve asked 2-3 makeup artists to check rates and see who might be available then after you select one, followup with the others to say thanks. Once you have everyone locked down I recommend you followup with a confirming message. Also, I sequence the team in the following order based on the mood board: a) makeup artist, b) hair stylist, c) fashion stylist (if one is used), & lastly d) the model / models.

  4. Create and send a call sheet. The call sheet confirms all the important details. Ask everyone to confirm the call sheet. I send the mood board with the call sheet.

  5. Unless the shoot is just around the corner I recommend you reconfirm with everyone a few days before the photoshoot. I’ve had occasions where a shoot is organized but one of the team members forgot to make it on their calendar (or they don’t use a calendar) and they didn’t show. After that I’ve always try to reconfirm time & date a few days before the shoot.

Honestly, that’s about it. I always try to get everyone’s cell phone number when setting things up so I can text or call if anything changes at the last minute or I need to reach out on the shoot day. This is especially important if most of your communications have taken place through DM’s or email.

Sounds easy, and trust me, after you’ve done it a few times it is. If you are lucky (or this is a reasonable sized business for you) then you may have an assistant, business manager or intern do this work for you. However, I don’t so I do this for every shoot even if it’s a test shoot myself.

Now, what can you do to help? Glad/ you asked, here are some tips and recommendation:

  1. Respond to requests & followup quickly.

  2. Quote your rates if asked. If the photographer says “this is my budget” then quickly let them know if that works.

  3. If it’s a TFP request or you are the one asking to collaborate, be VERY clear if you are willing to work TFP or that you are looking for a TFP shoot. Don’t leave it until the shoot day that you expected to be paid, but the photographer thought it was TFP….or the other way around.

  4. Read the call sheet and mood board in advance. I CAN NOT tell you the number of people who show up to a photoshoot who haven’t looked at the mood board or read the call sheet. It’s frustrating.

  5. If your schedule changes for any reason provide as much notice as possible. I know last minute things happen, but that’s the exception versus the rule.

Basic stuff, I know but like they say “if you can’t do the basics then you can’t be expected to do the hard stuff”.

Look, this won’t work for everyone and much of these processes can be done in a number of ways. Some people just want to shoot, and that’s groovy, but if you are being a professional, then you need to do these types of things.

Plastic In Pink - The Setup

Working With A Model Agency - From the Agency's Position