First time setting up a professional photo shoot for yourself, family, or business? Don’t worry! With these 5 tips, you’ll get the best bang for your buck.


Let’s get right to it:


1. What emotion do you want to convey to your audience in your photo shoot?


Although I appreciate spontaneity during a photo shoot, there needs to be preparation before the shoot. The key to great photos is knowing what emotion you want your viewers to feel and see, and then preparing to create that emotion. Some important details I’ll address in this paragraph are location, dress, time of day, posing.


As an example, what if I wanted my audience to be excited that I graduated from Arizona State University? Ideal locations may be the college itself or a place that viewers can generally associate with the college. With ASU, I would choose a desert landscape with cactus as Arizona is well known for both of those. Or even take a trip out to the Grand Canyon! For time of day, I would choose sunrise. I feel this conveys the sun is rising on a new day and the light is softer at both sunrise and sunset. As a plus, the morning will be a cooler temperature than the evening in Arizona. When selecting what to wear, I would bring a few sets of clothing. This would include graduation garb, clothes that I feel reflects how I typically dress in public at college, and something pertaining to my major. And finally, posing. Starting with a general idea for emotion or event is critical for posing. Ideas for posing will flow more naturally with an emotional goal in mind.


As a photographer, I start with offering general posing tips and guidelines. As I see how the individual naturally poses their self, I’ll make specific suggestions (chin slightly up, look to the left, now look at me etc).  To keep things moving, I may create an entire pose from feet to head. I try to avoid doing this however as it’s time consuming, it slows down the flow of photos, and it tends to make people more self-conscious. For posing with the graduation theme, I would try jumping off a small ledge with a fist in the air, or perhaps arms crossed showing accomplishment. For posing ideas specific to your shoot, feel free to message me on my website.


man appears homeless, laying on rock at night

Brian Cahill at photo shoot in Scottsdale, AZ. ©Andrew Millett Photography


2. Allow yourself more time than expected for the shoot


Feeling rushed during a photo shoot is rough. During a photo shoot, it’s important to have control over the emotions you want to convey. When low on time, especially when something unexpected or unplanned happens, feeling tense and stressed can result . Generally, we don’t intend for these emotions to appear in a photo shoot. “Warming up” in front of the camera is something people don’t usually plan for, but I feel is totally necessary. I consider the first 15-20 minutes the warm up of a shoot. Usually, anyone who doesn’t model regularly spends this time overcoming a feeling of vulnerability, self-conscious thoughts,  and experimenting with poses that convey the intended feeling and energy.


After the warm up, I typically see people fall into a rhythm of poses for shooting and the shoot moves along more quickly. They realize, we’re going to take a 100+ photos, and some will be bad and won’t make the final cut. Also, if you want to have multiple outfits, you need to allow time for changing and moving to different areas of a location. Give yourself time to explore an area as well as time to the photographer to review his work to make sure there isn’t an odd un-tucked part of your shirt, or necklace that got twisted for some key shots. When you have more time rather than less, you’ll feel encouraged to experiment and tryout various ideas. My best images come from having the flexibility to explore ideas I wouldn’t have gotten to with a time-pressed shoot.


Model Cameo Rose at a photo shoot smelling a white flower. The image overall is dark aside from the flower petals and model.

Example of a candid, dark and moody image. Model Cameo Rose. ©Andrew Millett Photography


3. Find the photography style that resonates best with you


Do you like traditional portraits, where the subject is looking straight into the camera, or do you prefer candid, where the photo was taken more in the moment of a particular action? Professional photographers have a style they can quickly describe. This is to create an expectation for their customers of how their images will appear after the shoot.


Additionally, the relatively recent boom of digital photography has turned photography editing as it was known completely on its heels. Photos can be edited again and again in dramatically different ways to create or accentuate an emotion or mood. With programs such as Photoshop, entire backgrounds, people and objects can be replaced and moved within a composite of completely different photos. The editing style is a very important component of photography, yet largely overlooked by the common consumer. If you’re the person that likes dark, moody and dramatic images, but you choose to use a photographer who edits light, airy, and cute, you may be in for a disappointing surprise, even if the photographer does great work by every standard.

Make sure to review photographer’s work and identify a consistent theme to know what to expect.



man and woman kiss under a small light hanging from a tree

Engagement photo shoot at Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, AZ. ©Andrew Millett Photography


4. Bring a trusted friend/family member, hire a makeup arist… or both!


Having another set of eyes to help spot small details is important. Makeup artists are great for taking care of sweat, upkeeping hair and makeup, and keeping you looking comfortable and great throughout the shoot. I’ve worked with Lauren Edmondsen and Katie’s Cosmeotology for makeup and they’re both great! Sometimes there’s just the odd phone or wallet appearing in the picture, or some hair that just needs touching up. It’s great to have another perspective to be on the lookout for small these kinds of small details, or to have someone that can help you bring out smiling and laughing for your photos.

girl trying to blow glitter

5. Embrace a bit of chaos on a shoot


With couples and families, there’s various moods, personalities, and stages of life that can cause a shoot to not go as intended. Weather may start to suddenly change. But embrace it, and use it to your advantage to get unique photos. You can’t force another person out of a bad mood, or to cheer up, and usually threats and coercion just make it worse. But maybe you can take it from a family of entirely happy kids, to a time to catch candid shots of consolation and pure love. It’s not nearly as common! If it rains, dance in the rain! Hopefully you or the photographer brought an umbrella, but if not, find some cover, and find interesting ways to make use of the rain. Have fun, because the unexpected will make your photo shoot unique and stand out.

Comment with additional questions or tips below. Are you ready for your shoot? Contact me on my website at to schedule a shoot!


February 27, 2018

5 Photo Shoot Tips to Get Unique, Interesting and Impactful Images

Model at photo shoot looking at camera at the Lost Dutchman National Park