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At one point or another, all photographers worry that they are falling into a creative slope. One of the best ways to jumpstart your creativity is to work on a self-starting project. This will not only keep you inspired and challenge you to grow, but creative photoshoots also add value to your license portfolio and help you stand out for image-buyers around the world.

Photo by Jasmin Chew / Unsplash

The best result from such a shoot comes from careful planning and solid communication. That is why we have put together this guide on how to prepare for a creative photoshoot to make the most of it. You can also learn about some important steps that you had not thought of before.

Stage of thought
Every creative photoshoot begins in the Ideation phase. This is where you dream your concept and flesh out your idea.

Photo by Emmanuel gido / Unsplash

It is important to do this before bringing team members on board, or packing their equipment, so that everyone is on the same page during the shoot.

Do your homework
If you plan to sell your images through a share agency, such as the 500px Collection on Visual China Group (VCG) and Getty Images, then you need to research what the buyers want. As the stock photo industry expands, and as more photographers contribute to the world's premier libraries, it is more important than ever to ensure that your customers stand out.

Photo by Clarisse Meyer / Unsplash

Keep an eye out for trending hashtags, and stay up-to-date with Karen Bielman's series What's Trending in Licensing 'right here on the 500px blog. Popular keyword and client searches can also help generate new ideas. While browsing, think about how you can deal with familiar topics in a new and exciting way. Buyers are always looking for work that is different from the rest.

Churn out your vision
Even if the concept is clear in your mind, you will have partners on your shoot who need to be on the same page. If you are working with a model, hair and makeup artist or stylist, then you should clearly state your concept.

Photo by Lexi Christiansen / Unsplash

Start with a mind map, which is an easy visual way to create thoughts and ideas. Mindmaster is a great tool that facilitates free accounts. Or you can use pen and paper to write key phrases and feelings that you want to provoke. These are the notes you want to hold, as you will use these later to add related keywords and metadata.

From there, create a mood board. Pinterest is a great free tool for mood boards because it can help you visually communicate your ideas to everyone involved in the shoot. If you plan to license the images, remember to include ad photos in your mood board. Look out for companies and small businesses that are using unique, eye-catching images to build their brand recognition, and think about how you can incorporate some of that inspiration into your shoot .

Photo by Jon Ly / Unsplash

Create a creative brief
Creating a shot list is valuable as you develop your concept and can help the flow of your shoot. When working with others, sketches can also be an important tool. Drawings can be as simple as stick figures - they just need to give a general idea of ​​what you want to create.

There are also plenty of online tools that allow you to create and share light diagrams, like skylights, which have a desktop and a mobile app version. These help everyone understand the final vision of each image, especially if your process involves incorporating various elements.

When it comes to licensing, diversity is the name of the game. Your shot list should be as detailed as possible; Add different poses, different settings, and different orientations. The more perspectives you can get, the better.

Taking pictures late at night in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Photo by Harold Wijnholds / Unsplash

Action phase
Once you are clear on your concept, final vision and use of the image, it is time to put the plan in place. Ask yourself about who, what, when, and where.

Create a budget
Which of your photoshoots refers to a team of people that you have to follow your concept. And as you approach people for a partnership, it is necessary to know what your budget will be for the shoot.

Think about whether you will pay your colleagues, or if the photoshoot will be a TF (time for prints / digital files) arrangement.

Set expectations and gather documents
As you are looking for the right partner for your creative photoshoot, you will also need to have expectations about how the images will be used. Brands can license photos for almost any purpose, from billboards to packaging to magazine advertisements. These expectations should be discussed individually and in the release you may need models, hair and makeup, etc.

Photo by Samsung Memory / Unsplash

Share your creative brief
Once you have companions who are interested in you, you need to share the creative brief or whats of your photoshoot. In your thinking phase, you developed mood boards, sketches and shot lists to suit the needs of your team members. The more people in your team, the more content and motivation will be required. For example, if you are working with a set designer, they may require different mood board images than your makeup artist.

Save a time and place
When and where your shoot takes place will depend on your concept and team. If your concept demands a specific location, you will need to scout the location, determine its availability, and think about whether you need a permit. The same will go to secure studio space for your shoot. If you are shooting on private property, make sure you discuss a property release with the owner and inquire about any permits and insurance that you must have.

From there, coordinate the time with the availability of your team members. If your photoshoot is seasonal, or revolves around the holiday, you want to get it months in advance, so that shoppers can use your images in their marketing over time.

Photo by Samsung Memory / Unsplash

The day before the shoot
To cut down on any pre-photoshoot jitters, prepare the following the day before:

-Print out any necessary documents. This includes your permits, release forms, and your shot list.
-Print mood board photos to help everyone stay true to the original concept.

Check your equipment:

-Make sure your lights and triggers are firing.
-Format your cards.
-Charge all your batteries.
-Clean your lenses and equipment.

Shoot day
If your location allows, arrive early and survey the space. Turn on the music to help set the mood. If there is a set-up that you can do before others arrive, such as pinning mood board photos for hair and makeup or setting the light, take care of it. This will help make things feel less chaotic as others arrive and will give you a chance to review your shot list and timeline.

Keep communication open throughout the day and allow other team members to see your shots as you work. This will allow him to do touch-ups to help him take the best shots.

Holding a film Camera
Photo by Alex Azabache / Unsplash

After the shoot
Once your shoot is complete, you calm down and perform editing magic. But there are still some organizational matters to attend to:

Send copies of all your team members to the signed release.
Send the final edit and politely remind everyone about the agreed-upon submission policy. Also, tell your partners if you plan to license your photos exclusively so that there is no dispute.

By taking time to prepare for your creative photoshoot, you will help complete the shoot as smoothly as possible. You will have a clear vision of what you want to achieve, everyone involved will be less stressed, and you will all be able to focus your energies on creating your artistic vision and resonating with the buyers.