Great Tips For Walking Into Your First Photoshoot

We all know it can be overwhelming when walking into your first paid photo gigs. You want to look like you know what you're doing and you don't want to disappoint your clients. Here's a helpful short video by Jasmine Star sharing key tips about what to keep in mind when walking into your first portrait photoshoot. Click through to see the rest of the post to learn more tips: I would also add like to add a few tips for new photographers:

  • Never hurts to think of rough concepts the night before. Even better if you try and sketch some setup ideas first (see "storyboarding").


  • Refrain from giving your portrait subjects posing orders or telling them to give an expression (such as "smile" or "frown") right away. Typically people react the opposite of what you ask them to do early on in a shoot because they feel uncomfortable so you must warm them up first. Start the shoot off with casual questions and conversation (example: "where are you going on your  honeymoon?", "have any vacation time coming up?", "where are you from originally?") to help make your subjects feel comfortable (presuming they aren't full-time actors or models) and remove the awkwardness many people feel when in front of a camera.


  • Consider playing music in the background (if the situation is appropriate). My safe bet is always Marvin Gaye's Pandora station. It doesn't hurt to ask what your clients would enjoy. Upbeat music with good energy helps relax everyone on set. I actually travel with a bluetooth speaker set in my camera bag to play music on location from my iPhone.


  • "The night before, make sure all the batteries are charging. The morning of, make sure all the equipment is packed. If this is a paid gig and you're about to try a new technique, make sure to try it ahead of time on a test subject. Don't base your whole photoshoot on a technique you never tried before. It's too risky, and not fair for your client." - Noam Galai


  • "Have a trusted friend/photographer assist you, have a mood board or some concept images in mind to go through with the subject, brief everyone on the team (hair, make up, assistants etc) to be there 30mins before they actually need to be there ahead of the client's arrival time for the inevitable delays/late arrivals. Have some tea/coffee/water/snacks available and out, smile a lot as it helps keep you and your client relaxed, compliment the client on how they look when they walk in even if they look like they are still drunk and been dragged through a hedge backwards from the night before. Have a brief schedule for the team so everyone knows what times they need to work to to minimize stress on your part if time slips away. Sandbag those lights too, don't risk anything falling over and hitting anyone on your first shoot." - Dave Geffin

Have some tips to add? Comment below!

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Spencer Lefevre's picture

I would think that as a creative outlet for many Fstopper's would not post such an article, including the video by Jasmine. I understand her opinion and did read her apology however feel it's wrong for you to be increasing her platform by an article of such nature.

Don't want to be offending, maybe I missed something but what exactly is the problem with her?

Shannon Wimberly's picture

so how long in your opinion should she pay penance? Just shrivel up and do nothing? oh she is so bad!!! .... how perfect are you in this world? I learned something from the "borrowed" blog posts that i might not otherwise who gives a rats anyway.....
i knew there would be someone here to diss her some more.....

This is not about penance or punishment. She violated a cardinal rule of any creative industry... she used someone else' work and claimed credit. That is at the very heart of what creatives do. We are identified with and by our work even when it does not make us money. As a creative, within the creative industry, that is about the worst thing you can do. Her apology was only the first step to her rehabilitation.

For some people, she will never be rehabilitated, and that is their right, but I would think Fstoppers would want to wait at least until the apology is off the front page before associating themselves with (and tacitly endorsing) such a thing.

I don't think the level of hate thrown at her was appropriate, but there are consequences. Her credibility is shot. She has to rebuild that. For some people that would be never. For others, who knows.

I agree with Spencer that this is, at the very least, too soon. I am pretty disappointed that Fstoppers, as a popular industry outlet, does not see this as a problem worthy of consideration.

Spencer Lefevre's picture

She didn't write this article. She was included in it. I am not perfect and in no way said I was. This article is fine but endorsing or promoting a video by a well know figure in the industry who has admitted wrong only a few days after an apology is something I would not agree with as a good business move. Sorry that you may have conflicting opinions.

She didn't "pay penance" for so much as a week.

Sadly you can include yourself with those who see theft as a minor inconvenience.

So, when you find a photograph of yours on someone else's website as their own, you have no right to bitch about theft of your work, you've proven you see no problem with theft.

Noam Galai's picture

Forgiveness... something people need to learn. She made a mistake, apologized, did what people wanted her to do, and now we move on.

Spencer Lefevre's picture

Yes we move on, However several days after an apology to endorse or promote in wrong. Sorry Noam. I think FStoppers should not endorse such acts. I'd advise waiting a few weeks before using content from her.

I have to agree with Spencer. And I am not in the Jasmine Star hate parade, but this at least gives the appearance of endorsement for something that a lot of people take very seriously.

Noam, weren't you the victim in a huge stolen image scandal a while back?

What if instead of that giving you exposure to you (which it did, and good for you) it actually gave exposure for those t-shirt companies that stole your image? What if no one in the industry stood up for you and decided to try to make it right by making sure everyone knew you were behind your image?

You may have forgiven all those people who made money off your work, and I really think that is wonderful, but the truth is if I found out that I was doing business with one of the T-shirt companies that refused to pay you for your image, I would stop doing business with them. I wouldn't hate them. I wouldn't set out to tear apart their business. However, I want to support companies, entities and individuals that stand up for ethics, because that says as much about me as it does about them.

And that is the problem I have with Fstoppers running this article with Jasmine Star's photo across the front and her video inside. It says a lot about Fstoppers, which makes me question whether I feel right for supporting them. That is up for me to decide, and you should not take this as me whining that "Fstoppers sucks". But, because Fstoppers is a fairly large name in the industry, the attitude that this blog and its authors has about industry issues both reflects and effects the industry as a whole.

What I think a lot of people find disturbing amongst those that say we should just forgive someone who has plagiarized or taken credit in another way for someone else' work is that it seems glib; it seems dismissive of real and deep concerns. I am not saying that it is yours or Fstoppers' job to punish Ms. Star, but I don't see how at this point you can promote her. Whatever the results of that is would be the consequences of actions she has taken, not Fstoppers inability to forgive.

So I ask, why not promote someone's videos who have been a leader in ethics instead? Why not promote the articles of people she took work from? Why not use this as an opportunity to say something positive about ethics in the industry? Perhaps over time Ms. Star will not only learn from her mistakes and become an outspoken industry leader on ethics, and Fstoppers can once again post articles by her.

What Fstoppers does right now, though, will say more about where they stand on ethics than if they "forgive" Ms. Star.

I wonder who she ripped this material from.....???

And did not give any credit to!!!

Whoa, ONLY 3 days have passed since Jasmine's "mea culpa (sorta)" and she gets a post featuring her?!

No one is perfect and people make mistakes and sin, but it doesn't dismiss the harm she's done to others by stealing (plagiarism AND copyright violation), but also to herself (integrity and reputation). I'm not sure how long she should do penance for her transgressions, but 3 days for YEARS of stealing and several counts of it is by [almost] anyone's standards too short.

Forgiveness is a key thing in life, but handing it out like free candy -- as Fstoppers appears to be doing -- for celebrity photographers isn't how it should work. Yes, our industry is hard and pressure-driven, but just because someone writes a letter and is famous doesn't place her on a higher plain where the consequences don't apply. If she were a photojournalist, her career would be OVER. DONE. GONE. The ethics about plagiarism and copyright are universal when it comes to photography, writing, and other creative and non-creative fields.

Why is Fstopppers getting such negative feedback on this post? Because you're giving this popular photographer special treatment just as celebrities get, giving her just a slap on the wrist where the rest of us ethical, hard-working, intelligent and talented photographers

Zach Sutton's picture

We feature anyone who submits interesting and valuable information to us. We don't play favorites and don't hold grudges.

Zach, I appreciate your stand, but I think it would be appropriate for Fstoppers to actually make a statement.

This isn't about holding a grudge. It is about ethics and what Fstoppers stands for. Are your editorial guidelines so lax that you really will accept interesting content from *anyone*? Do you not draw the line anywhere? If so, it would be nice to here where that line is drawn.... if for no other reason, so your readers could decide if you actually reflect their values in the industry.

What you do speaks for you if you don't actually say anything. So far, what you and Fstoppers has been saying is that plagiarism isn't your concern. If that is the case, I would actually like to know for sure.

Zach Sutton's picture

Perhaps that is the problem. We're a diverse group of professional photographers, all with a different stance on this issue. We had a conversation that extended well over 100 comments when the Doug Gordon/Jasmine Star story broke just a couple days ago. In no way whatsoever were we all unified on our thoughts concerning it, and sides were drawn on the issue.

I personally wrote a 700 word article on the issue, and we decided it was best not to publish it all together. In the last two days, I've spoke personally with both Jasmine and Doug, and found myself sympathizing with them, regardless of the original stance of my unpublished article.

But as an organization, we don't make public statements on anything, and this is one of the topics included. Our goal, and job, is to provide interesting content from the photography community to the photography community. Regardless of Jasmine's recent developments, she has posted an interesting and informative article on what to expect for a photoshoot. That is the reason, and only reason why this is publish here.

Sorry man, but this is about the closest I can give you to a public statement.

Thank you for your response. I take everything you say at face value.

I would like to correct you on one thing, though. You DO make a public statement on things, if not with words, then by actions. It may not be an intentional statement, but it is a statement all the same.

FS just don't understand your point which is sad... Simply by posting her on the site they are condoning her actions.. If FS were concerned about professionalism they would give her some time out and see how she conducts herself for 12 months before posting anything more from her..

This is the new world, run by children.
Steal from other writers, bloggers and photographers...

Fstoppers says that's just fine by them.
Lips meet ass.

Well said

Michael Comeau's picture

The most interesting content you could possibly produce would be a public statement on these repeated acts of plagiarism, which is a pretty relevant issue. I mean, what do you folks stand for?

I agree Michael. And it is a subject they have covered many times before (see links). I am not sure when big names are involved (Doug Gordon, Jasmine Star), they are suddenly completely silent except for giving the culprit an outlet for their apology (which I have no problem with on its own) and then to promote one of that persons videos the next business day. It reeks of favoritism (that they don't play?) which is entirely their choice. I can't support it though, and I will no longer be a reader of Fstoppers. And, I will warn my students away from it as well. FS has always been a decent aggregation and set voices of the industry as a whole, but I can't support this. They are not only ignoring two of the biggest "theft" stories in the industry when their archive shows they are will call others out, but actively promoting one of the people who stole.

I am done.

Here are examples of them actually talking about the issue.

Zach - this has nothing to do with the diversity of photographers. What JS did was wrong, unlawful and unethical. I'm sure there are people out there besides yourself that sympathize with her but to put this post on this site at this time is completely wrong and sends a message that you agree with what she did and see no harm in it.

Ralph Berrett's picture

Zach, as a photojournalist, I worked for Pulitzer Inc., Lee Enterprises, Scripts League, freelance for AP and many other publications for the last 20 years. There is not a single news organization or publication that would touch or look at anything Jasmine Star has produced let alone print or host it, because of the plagiarism.

She has lost all credibility as an information source. I understand your position, but she is a tainted source. If she was a journalist or photojournalist her career would be over. No one would hire her to write even obits.

Granted I am not a nice person, but there is no excuse for what she did and she has yet to admit what she did. There is no difference from what she did and someone stealing photos claiming those images as their own.

Yes, she stole words, but there is no difference. I might be more sympathetic but her so called apology was for a clerical error not for stealing someones work. If I am wrong please point it out. She has yet to take responsibility for her actions. Her hectic life is not an excuse. Until she comes clean on what she did, she will always be a tainted source.

I understand that you may have sympathy towards her, but publishing her is damaging this sites and your credibility.

Calling someone out on proven and admitted plagiarism and copyright violations isn't a grudge, it's justice. And bringing up such things just 3 DAYS (not months or years) after Fstoppers' publish date of her apology is nowhere near such a thing as a grudge.

Pushing her tips out there in the shadow of these revelations and backlash is a lot like "playing favorites" when many of your readers know that they wouldn't get the same treatment, especially if they stole from Fstoppers.

To me apologising (after days of not saying a word about the whole issue and the actions she did to cover it up) and releasing a video a day later shows that she doesn't think much of the whole deal. She's not just a regular photographer, but she's an industry leader who is supposed to be setting an example to the rest of the community, so whatever happens now and how the whole issue is dealt with will definitely have ripples on the whole community in the future.

Has the issue been blown out of proportion? Maybe, but what would you expect from someone who's seen as an industry's rockstar?

Revolving standards at Fstoppers. There's a surprise.

Fstoppers, a [once] great site, now just a sell out site.


And you don't care who it comes from as long as it brings more readers to your blog - that's real professionalism there...

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