Local Photo Shoots: Everything You Need to be Prepared and Successful!

Let’s talk about photo shoots! This fun topic has become increasingly more relevant as influencer marketing and blogger campaigns become more popular.

Today I am sharing tips for local photo shoots. Everything you need to be prepared and successful at an influencer photo shoot.

A little disclaimer:

This guide isn’t for fancy high-fashion photo shoots. You know, the ones where they pick you up in a town car and drive you to a fancy location where a team of hair, makeup, and wardrobe assistants await your arrival (think behind the scenes for fashion week or the VS fashion show).

Instead, these are tips for smaller and more local micro-influencer type of photo shoots. Often, these photo shoots are for a small business or a boutique clothing company with a more modest budget.

These photo shoots sometimes offer hair and makeup. Often, it’s a friend of the owner who ‘likes to do makeup’ or who ‘also does hair’. Think of it as a new BFF showing you tips and tricks to look great.

Sometimes, companies hire a mobile beauty team for the day of the photoshoot. Think glam squad or a beauty on-demand service. It could also be someone from the company who is great at makeup who ends up in charge of your ‘look’. You usually don’t know until the day of the photoshoot.

So, after several trial and error photoshoots with varying and occasional cringe-worthy results, I am passing along what I wish I had known! My tips for a stress-free photo shoot!

First things first:

If you are asked to be in a photo shoot, you will likely get a “photo brief” once you’ve confirmed and the date is set.

The brief is crucial! Flag the email and read it carefully, because it is usually quite detailed and covers expectations and guidelines. It also lists your call time to arrive.

Pinterest mood board:

Depending on the guidelines for the shoot, and if the office has sent over a ‘mood board‘ with the briefing, you’ll want to check that out too. It usually gives you a visual guide for what the theme and vibe of the end product will be. This can help you mentally prepare and give you a feel for what the shoot will be about.

Pay careful attention to the following:

Outfits

Are they providing wardrobe? If so, it’s still always a good idea to pack a couple of your own pieces that would match the overall look of the shoot. Reference the mood board.

Pick items that accompany the vibe that fit you well and you feel great in. The idea is that you will still have something to wear if clothing rips, gets stained, or if your planned outfit doesn’t fit. If a zipper breaks or if a designer sends over the wrong sizes (which is not uncommon) it’s nice to have a backup option.

Things to pack that work with almost any outfit:

  • Nude underwear (a thong works for nearly every type of outfit)
  • A nude bra (strapless or with removable straps is most versatile)
  • A set of small gel petals to cover your nipples. These are perfect for outfits where you can’t wear a bra, but they will minimize headlights.

These can be in your bag as backups, in case!

Makeup

What’s the makeup situation? Sometimes full makeup is provided, other times, the artist wants you to put on your normal foundation and they provide touch-ups and add eyes and lips.

I’ve also been to shoots where you bring your own makeup and someone professionally applies it, so this can be all over the place.

Often, it’s hard to get a straight answer about makeup beforehand.

In that case, I recommend packing your bare basic makeup items in a small pouch. The 4 or 5 products you would feel comfortable putting on in a dimly lit bathroom in a random place if you had to.

Let’s say the makeup artist gets stuck in traffic or doesn’t show up at all. You want something in your bag for a little coverage if you need it.

I’ve also been to photo shoots where they have run out of time for makeup and are ‘losing the light’ so there is a huge rush and some people end up without any makeup. You’ll be glad you brought a few items if this happens.

Pro tip: throw a couple of q-tips and safety pins in your makeup bag. You never know when you’ll need ’em.

Again, this can all stay in your bag as a backup, but if you end up needing any of the above items, you’ll be glad you have it.

Hair

If they are providing hair styling, it’s a good idea to come with it freshly washed (either wash it that day or the day prior) and blown out. Don’t use heat (so don’t straighten or curl) as the stylist will add hot tools for the desired look.

A very important tip: Clue the stylist into your hair. They likely haven’t worked with you previously, so they aren’t familiar with your hair. If you know your hair doesn’t hold a curl without a lot of ‘grit’ or texturizing spray, tell them. They want to help you look great so give them the deets!

Nails

In the brief, you will likely find suggestions about nail polish colors for both fingers and toes. However, if that’s not specifically mentioned, most shoots want either a natural colored nail or a nude polish.  Sometimes a light baby pink is also ok.

Photographers and designers can photoshop nail color afterward, but it does add time to the editing process. If the company is on a strict budget, it’s ideal to avoid the nail color issue. Double check if you are unsure about the polish rules.

If you are in a pinch, and you currently have a manicure you can’t easily remove at home, like a dip or a gel polish, all is not lost!

My suggestion (and I’ve had to do this a few times) is to head to your local drug store and buy temporary glue-on nails. Both CVS and Walgreens have an amazing selection of pink and nude colors to choose from.

Simply add the glue and press the nails on over the existing manicure. It takes about 10 minutes, and will completely transform your nails!

Up close, the nails may look a little “interesting”, but the fake nails photograph surprisingly well! See my pictures below!

Side note, this ends up ruining your base polish under the fake nail, but nothing another manicure can’t fix.

Food

Does the brief mention food? Or catering? If there is no mention of food, please pack yourself an emergency hangry bar.

If there is catered food for the photo shoot, it’s always a good idea to bring a snack in case you can’t eat what is provided. Or in case someone forgets to order (or pick up) the food.

People have so many food sensitivities these days, so it’s best to always be prepared. You want to have something on hand to keep your energy up and keep you from getting hangry.

What to wear to the shoot:

I aim to be as comfortable as possible on the morning of a photoshoot. Most call times are bright and early so I like to stay comfy for as long as possible.

The goal is to wear items that are easy to take off, without taking them up and over your head. Going up and over your head can mess up your makeup or your hair, so definitely try to avoid as much as possible.

I typically wear a bralette with stretchy straps and I take it off by sliding it down my body. That may be more than you want to know, but hopefully it helps someone.

I also wear a tank top with stretchy straps (see above) or a button front shirt.

If I am at a fitness shoot and I know what my first outfit is going to be, I usually put the sports bra on before getting hair and makeup done.  A lot of shoots will let you do this, so just ask that morning.

If you are going to be in a sports bra before hair and makeup, it’s a good idea to bring a jacket.  I like to bring either a zip-front hoodie or a zip-front track jacket. This will keep you warm while you are getting glam!

I also wear either cozy joggers or leggings. Try not to pick anything with ribbing or designs in the fabric, as you don’t want it to make an imprint on your skin for when you change into shorts or a skirt.

Slip-on sneakers or loafers are a great choice for shoes!

Another great tip: put a straw in your bag.

Once your makeup is done, if you want to drink water or coffee, you’ll want to be careful to avoid messing up your lipstick.

Straws are a great answer, but with the shocking amounts of plastic pollution in our oceans, there are better options. If you are sipping with a straw be sure it’s either a paper one, a compostable bamboo straw, or a stainless steel re-usable one. This one HERE is what I use.

I fit all this easily in a very small gym bag, which is discreet enough to take to a shoot. You may never need an item in there, but if you do, you’ll be glad you have it.

That’s it! Those are my tips and tricks for a stress-free local photo shoot!

There’s no right or wrong way to prep for an event! Every shoot is different, but hopefully, these tips help you prepare for your next influencer event or shoot.

Just remember, as long as you are open minded, have a positive attitude and good energy, it will turn out fabulous!

What do you have in your ‘go bag’ for a photo shoot? Let me know if I left anything out!

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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