Just like any other strenuous activity, with photography, it’s always good to get a little “warm-up” in before you jump in feet first! This is especially true in cases that you may be photographing something very active that requires you to keep up (such as photographing those energetic little ones!) or if you are going to be on your feet all day long. Here are ten ways to prepare your mind and body for a photo shoot.
1. Make a checklist – Create a list of all the equipment you will need for your shoot. This way, you can go over your list on the day of as you pack your things up to go (or as you set them up in your studio) to make sure you actually have everything. Nothing is worse than getting everyone and everything ready to go only to realize you’re missing something small like your memory cards! This list can also include things like your client contract and any other important forms that you don’t want to forget.
2. Prepare equipment and camera – Charge your batteries, get extra bulbs for your lights if needed, and change whatever settings you may need to in your camera. I find that it is always good to clear up any memory cards I am using to allow the full amount of space to be available for the photo shoot. Another thing you can do is to go through and make sure all your equipment is clean. Clean your lenses and also make sure your lens caps are clean. I also go through and “neutralize” the settings on my camera to make sure that nothing is set to where I wouldn’t want it (such as ISO to 32000, exposure compensation of +2, etc.). To me, it’s always important to start your camera out with a clean slate!
3. Stretch and work your body out – See our post, Funny Behind the Camera Photographer Poses + Tips on How to Avoid that Cramp! for awesome stretching ideas to avoid any cramps. We also recommend checking out pilates, yoga, etc. to strengthen your back, arms, core, and more to avoid any injuries while shooting.
4. Dress accordingly – We all know to follow a dress code for a wedding event, but it is also important to not only think about the occasion, but the temperature and your comfort level as well. For instance, if you are going to be photographing a 10-hour wedding event, you wouldn’t want to be wearing stilettos. It would make much more sense to wear something dressy but also comfortable that you can take photos in without the distraction of the pain in your back and feet! Another thing to think about is the practicality of your outfit. If you have a long skirt or pants that drag on the floor, chances are likely that you could trip while taking a photo, and this is a big safety hazard! If you have a low-cut shirt, you might end up self-conscious the entire time and end up worried about your shirt rather than which angle is best to shoot from. Think about all the positions you may be putting yourself into with the clothes you are in and think, “Will this cause any malfunctions if I wear this?”
5. Check directions and plan ahead – No matter the physical form of directions (MapQuest, a hand-held GPS, etc.) you are using, make sure that it is all prepared and ready to go the next day. This may seem silly and monotonous, but so many things can come up the day of a shoot that it’s best to be prepared with all the little things to try and avoid any surprises if possible! Plan ahead, know how much time it will take to get to your destination, make sure you are set on gas or leave earlier if you know you will need to stop for some.
6. Arrive early – It is wise to plan to arrive at least 15-30 minutes prior to a shoot to allow for setup of equipment based on the lighting and surroundings of the location. You should allow even more time if you need to park or if the location is new and you need to have a quick run-through.
7. Run through your mental checklist – When driving to your location to meet your client (or waiting for them to arrive to your studio), do a run-through in your head of all your clients’ notes and details (names, ages, hobbies and interests, etc.). These can all be important and useful things to remember while on a shoot, and remembering them can help things to run much more efficiently. Don’t be afraid to make a physical list if you need to!
8. Listen to some music – When listening to music before a shoot, I like to also keep in mind the type of shoot I am doing and listen to music that helps me get into the right mood for that type of scenario. For instance, if I am photographing an engagement or a wedding, I may listen to something more calm and romantic to help my mind stay focused and feel inspired. If I am doing some senior portraits or a crazy fashion shoot, I may listen to something more fast-paced and upbeat to get me pumped and energetic! Music can really help clear your head, and spark your creativity.
9. Eat and stay hydrated – We’ve all done it before: went on a shoot without eating anything and then ended up going through the entire shoot without a bite. The next thing you know, your stomach is growling like crazy and you remember that you didn’t eat all day! Our bodies run on food for energy, so it’s no wonder that when you don’t have any, you start to get weak and tired. I find that it really helps to have some snacks that are higher in protein and/or vitamins to keep your body fueled and energized throughout the shoot. A couple of my favorites are granola bars, mixed nuts, trail mix, wasabi peas, dried fruit pieces and beef jerky. It is also very important to stay hydrated on a photo shoot! If you want to avoid constant bathroom trips, drink a jug of water the night before your shoot. Then, make sure to drink at least one big cup before your shoot and always make sure to have a water bottle, or an available source of water at the location. Drinking up the day before instead of guzzling down like crazy the day of helps to hydrate the body without resulting in constant bathroom trips.
10. Mental preparation – Do whatever it is that YOU need to do in order to get yourself into a creative mindset! Whether it’s dancing, painting, baking, following step 8, watching your favorite TV show or talking to a good friend, GO DO IT! If it makes you feel confident and it gets those creative juices flowing, then go for it! Just make sure you allow enough time for your actual shoot, of course, and that everything else is prepared and ready.
These are all some ways to help you get prepared and pumped for your next photo shoot! If you are looking for some more ways to get refreshed and inspired in the mornings (or any time of day, really), check out the article, “6 ways for Photographers to Be Awake and Inspired by 10AM.”
What are some ways that you use to get yourself ready before a photo shoot? We’d love to hear your ideas!