How to Do Your First Professional Photoshoot

We all have to start somewhere. Taking on that first job can be very intimidating, so here are some tips to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible.

Don't Bite off More Than You Can Chew

Sometimes, those booking you do not understand photography. They will ask you to do a shoot that is far above your current skill set. When you are presented with these opportunities and the large financial rewards, it is easy to say yes to them. I have made this mistake so many times, and I ended up falling hard. It's really important to make sure that you are capable of doing the job and that you have work of a similar or higher level before accepting any paid project. 


Make sure you have duplicates of every bit of kit. That means batteries, memory cards, camera bodies, lights, and lenses. You can’t leave anything to chance when you are doing it professionally. It also gives you peace of mind knowing that if something goes wrong, you are covered. 


I took assistants with me to every job for years, even when I didn’t need them. They acted as a bit of a safety blanket for me, and I still often take extra hands when I don't really need them. That way, I knew that if I started getting anxious when things went wrong (and they did go wrong), I had someone to turn to for moral support. 


Don’t wait until the night before to realize that you are missing a battery or that a screw is broken in a key bit of kit. Prep your kit a few days before. Make sure everything is set up correctly, that your hard drives have space on them, and that everything is fully charged and functional.

Test Shoots

If your first job isn’t something that you have done several times before, make sure you do test shoots. There seems to be a misconception that pros turn up to big ad campaigns, pull out the kit, and then take the shot. Most of us don’t work like that: we do days of lighting tests, checking that post-production will work with the shoot protocol, and generally making sure we have all of the variables covered. Take the time to make sure you have everything as perfect as it can be and that you know exactly what you are going to do when the shoot starts. 

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thomas Palmer's picture

A "begginer professional" generally can't afford duplicate kits/assistants, and also the invert is true, you can be underconfident so you need in this case to say yes when you think no.

Scott Choucino's picture

very true, you could borrow kit from mates and ask for a helping hand though. I did that for years (still do sometimes).