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How To Plan For a Product Photo Shoot (+ PDF Checklist)

Are you getting ready for your next product photo shoot? 

Whether you’re just starting out in product photography, or you’ve been doing it for a while, it’s important to plan a product photo shoot well in advance so that you can get the best results.

In this post, I’ll give you some tips on how to plan for a product photo shoot, plus I’ve created a very handy PDF checklist that you can use (at the end of this article).

Let’s get started.

Photo shoot moodboard

Why Is Planning Important for a Product Photo Shoot?

Just as you invest a considerable amount of time in strategy and preparation for a business presentation, it is equally important to invest time in preparing and planning for a product photo shoot. 

As a result of this photo shoot you are hoping to acquire high-quality visual content for your website, social media outlets, or e-commerce platform which you want to present to your existing and potential customers – they need to be convinced, right?

Planning and preparation for the photoshoot will lead to the chance for these interactions – therefore, planning is crucial. Take time to work on the idea and prepare your products – it will allow you to save valuable time later, acquire better quality content and perform consistently well. 

Also, if you’re still on the lookout for the product photography equipment best suitable to your needs, have a look at our article “What Product Photography Equipment Do You Really Need?“.

7 Tips on How to Plan For Your Next Product Photo Shoot

Tip 1: Do the Research on Existing Photos to Get Inspiration From Other Photographers 

Pinterest

I’m sure you’ve seen many product photos on social media, websites, or in magazines that have caught your attention. Maybe there are even some product photos that you absolutely love and would like to recreate?

When it comes to product photography, it’s important to be inspired by other photographers’ work. This will help give you ideas for how you want your photos to look.

To get started, create a Pinterest board or folder on your computer where you can save all of the product photos that inspire you. This will be a great reference for when you’re planning your own product photo shoot.

Pinterest moodboard for leather wallet project

Instagram

Instagram is a great source of inspiration when planning for your next product photoshoot.

In order to find inspiring and useful product photos by other product photographers, use product photography-related hashtags or product-specific hashtags like #candle or #leatherwallet – whatever is relevant to you for the photoshoot you are planning.

You can use the hashtags of your choice or also have a look at the best product photography hashtags, which you can later use in your own social media presence in order to grow your audience. Find out about it in our article “24 Best Product Photography Hashtags to Grow Your Audience“.

Likewise, for specific product photography tips, which will help you boost product sales, have a look at our article “7 Candle Product Photography Ideas & Tips to Boost Sales“.

Instagram feeds

Google

Google too is a great tool that you can use to find inspiration for your next product photo shoot.

When you search for product photos on Google, you’ll see a bunch of different results – some from websites, some from blogs, and some from social media.

Try typing “product photos + “keyword””, like, “product photography candle”, or “product photography leather wallet”.

This will give you a variety of different product photos to look at and get inspired by.

Google image search results for "product photography leather wallet"

500px.com

Get product photo inspiration on the platform 500px.com, which shares incredible photos from diverse styles and genres around the world. 

It is also a platform where you can share and even sell your own work.

Why Share Your Product Photos on 500px.com?

  • It allows you to grow as a photographer. Get immediate exposure with your first upload. New photographs and photographers are surfaced, ensuring photos are seen by the community.
  • You get help in building your career. Market yourself as a professional photographer. Show that you’re available for hire on your Profile and get discovered in Search results, showcase your articles, presents, videos, and more with Resources, and create a Portfolio website to showcase your work.
  • You can earn by selling your work. You can earn substantial royalty rates when you distribute your photography through 500px to a global marketplace, where buyers can view and purchase your work for commercial use.
Product photography inspiration from 500px.com

Tip 2: Create a Moodboard for Your Product Photo Shoot 

When you’ve gathered inspiration from other product photographers, it’s time to start putting together your own mood board.

A mood board is a great way to visualize the overall feel and aesthetic that you want for your product photos.

To create a mood board, you can use Pinterest, Canva, or more specific services, such as Milanote that allow you to create beautiful mood boards as well as many other important features that will help you stay on track with all of your product photography projects.

Start by adding in all of the product photos that you gathered when you were doing your research.

Then, add in any other elements that you think will help create the mood and feel that you’re going for – this could be things like colors, textures, or even just a certain feeling

For example, if you’re planning on doing a photo shoot for a leather wallet, you might want to add some photos of leather texture, as well as some colors that you want to use.

You can also add in things like quotes or even song lyrics that capture the feeling that you’re going for.

Milanote software for organizing photo shoots
Milanote is an easy-to-use tool to organize your ideas and projects into visual boards

Tip 3: Prepare a List of the Photos and Any Specific Details They Need to Have

Now that you have an idea of the overall feel and aesthetic of your product photo shoot, it’s time to start planning out the individual photos.

Start by making a list of all of the different photos that you want to take.

For each photo, make sure to include any specific details that need to be in the photo.

For example, if you’re planning on taking a photo of a leather wallet, you might want to include details like “showing the front and back of the wallet”, or “showing how the wallet looks when it’s open”.

Maybe even add some sketches of how you see the photo or attach a photo reference that you would like to copy.

Photo shoot sketches in a notebook

If you’re unsure what specific details to include, think about how you want to use the photos.

Are you going to be using them on your website? On social media? In an email campaign?

Knowing how you’re going to use the photos will help you to determine what details need to be in each photo. 

Tip: If you’re planning on selling the product that you’re going to be photographing, make sure to include photos that show all of the important details.

For example, if you’re selling a leather wallet on your website, you’ll want to make sure to include at least one photo that shows all of the card slots and compartments.

People will want to see what they’re getting before they make a purchase, so including photos that show all of the details is important.

Tip: If you’re going to be using photos on social media, make sure to include at least one photo that is square-shaped.

This will help you to avoid having your photos get cut off when people are viewing them on mobile devices.

Tip: If you’re going to be using the photos in an email campaign, make sure to include at least one photo that is horizontal.

This will help to avoid having your photos get cut off when people are viewing them in their email inboxes. 

Leather accessories photo shoot

Next to the List of Photos Write Down a List of Props. 

Now that you know what photos you need and what details each photo should include, it’s time to start thinking about props.

Photography props are any objects that you use in your product photos to help show off the product.

For example, if you’re going to be photographing a leather wallet, some props that you might want to use could be a pen, a key, or even some cash.

Props help to show off the product in use and can really help to tell a story

Think about what props you might need for each photo on your list, and then make a note of them next to the corresponding photo.

If it is a lifestyle photo, consider what other elements you will need to make the photo complete.

For example, if you’re planning on taking a photo of someone using your leather wallet, you might need to find a model, as well as some clothes and accessories that they can wear. 

Tip: If you’re going to be using props in your product photos, make sure to choose props that are neutral in color. This will help to ensure that the focus is on the product and not on the props. 

Product photography props for beauty products

Tip 4: Prepare Your Products for the Photo Shoot 

Now that you have an idea of the overall feel and aesthetic of your product photo shoot, it’s time to start preparing your products.

If you’re going to be photographing multiple products, make sure to choose a color scheme that will work well together.

You don’t want your photos to look too busy or cluttered, so choosing a cohesive color scheme is important. 

If you’re going to be photographing products that are delicate or require special care, make sure to handle them with care and take the time to prepare them properly.

The last thing you want is for your product photos to turn out poorly because you didn’t take the time to prepare your products properly.

Color paletter - pantone 691

Don’t Forget to Clean Your Products!

Having clean and prepared products will save a lot of time during the post-production (photo retouching) process.

If the product has a lot of dust, dirt, scratches, and other imperfections, it will take a lot of time to fix those in post-production, and time = money.

Clean the products with a special cloth and also buy compressed air to remove small dust before the photo shoot.

cleaning product
Photo by JESHOOTS

Tip 5: Prepare a List of Products Which Can Be Helpful During a Photoshoot

There are products/items which can become very useful and save a lot of time during your product photoshoot, and you don’t want to be running to the shop during the process.

It’s better to arrive prepared for various scenarios than find yourself lacking something!

Here Are Products Which Can Be Useful in Your Product Photoshoot

  • Superglue
  • Blue tack or White tack (to hold things in place)
  • Yellow paint tape
  • Cotton (or other) gloves to prevent leaving fingerprint marks on products
  • Compressed air or Air blaster
  • Paintbrush
  • Lint roller
Air blaster for photography

Tip 6: List All the Necessary Gear That Is Required for the Product Photo Shoot

If you’re planning on doing a product photo shoot, you’re going to need to make sure that you have all the necessary photo gear.

This includes things like a camera, lenses, tripods, lights, reflectors, and more.

Making a list of all the gear that you’ll need for the shoot is a good way to make sure that you don’t forget anything.

And, if you can, it’s always a good idea to set up everything the night before the shoot so that you’re not rushed on the day of. 

Check and double-check that everything is working properly and that you have all the batteries and memory cards that you need.

The last thing you want is to get to the shoot and realize that you forgot something important!

Tip: Renting gear can be a great way to save money, especially if you’re just starting out in product photography. There are a number of companies that rent out gear, so do some research to see if there’s a rental company in your area. 

Essential product photography equipment

Tip 7: Have a Calendar Set to Send Out Reminders for All Involved in the Shoot

Once you have everything planned out and you’re getting ready for the big day, it’s important to make sure that everyone involved in the shoot is on the same page.

Set your calendar to send out timely reminders to everyone involved in the shoot, so that there would be no unpleasant last-moment surprises.

Sticky note with "don't forget" reminder
Photo by Kelly Sikkema

Tips on How to Prepare Clothes for a Product Photo Shoot

Wash, dry & iron

Wash, dry & iron all the garments a couple of days before the shoot, and use a steamer to get rid of the final creases – if necessary also on the day of the shoot.

Check for imperfections

Before the photoshoot check all products for potential imperfections – holes, poor stitching, bad coloring, spots, and so on.

These things tend to happen and you don’t want to find out at the last possible moment when there will be no time and opportunity to fix the problem properly.

Each piece of clothing is to become a representative of you and your business – you can’t afford to have even one faulty piece on the shoot.

Arrange Items of Clothing in the Right Order

When at the studio on the day of the photoshoot, classify products and line them up in order of the shoot. This will make the process much smoother and quicker.

Make Sure Items Are Tried On Before

If your shooting involves models, make sure all items are tried on beforehand, to ensure they are a good fit and get a replacement in case it is needed.

Again, an ill-fitting item is not a problem you want to come across in the middle of the shoot.

Use Comb for Fur

If your photoshoot includes fur items, make sure you have a comb with you, and use it to arrange fur so that it’s facing in the same direction.

Use Lint Roller on Dark Items of Clothing

If your photoshoot features dark items of clothing make sure you’re equipped with a lint roller and use it on them before photos are taken to make sure there are no specks.

They are much more clearly visible on dark clothing, and you don’t want the additional time and money wasted on it during post-production.

Adjust Clothing Before Photos are Taken

In a photo you want each piece of clothing positioned as aesthetically as possible.

This means that there can be no unflattering angles, and you need to make sure all folds are positioned in the shot on the model or mannequin in the best possible way.

Tips on How to Prepare Jewelry for a Product Photo Shoot

Jewelry product photography
Photo by Harper Sunday

First Things First – Check Insurance 

Check your delivery and insurance for the jewelry very carefully to make sure the items arrive at the studio on time and, even more importantly, are safe.

Check the appearance of each item separately and make sure there are no accidental defects or scratches, which you could later be held accountable for.

The last thing you want is an angry customer coming back to you with a damaged product.

Safe Transportation and Safety on Site

Ensure proper security during the transportation of the jewelry and on the shooting spot. Choose a studio that is prepared to guarantee safety on site.

This is extremely important because you will be working with very valuable and fragile items.

You don’t want anything bad to happen to them, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Prepare Your Items in Advance

Prepare and polish the jewelry and the boxes when they are still in the safe of your company before the shoot.

This will save you a lot of time on the day of the shoot, and you will be able to focus on other things.

You will want to dust and polish the jewelry just before it goes into the spotlight also. Use gloves at all times to avoid leaving visible fingerprints from oily hands.

Tips on How to Prepare Food for a Product Photo Shoot

Cream soup

Know What Makes the Look

We’ve all heard about the tricks like using glue instead of milk for a photo of an appetizing cereal bowl or beer froth that’s actually made out of soap froth.

You know what products or foods you’re photographing so find out in advance how to make them look their best in the photographs.

Remember that it’s a photograph – they don’t have to be edible!

Prepare to Be Fast!

When planning for a food photoshoot, never forget that you only have a limited window of opportunity to take the shot! 

For food to look fresh in a picture, it must be fresh. Therefore, when you are planning a photoshoot you need to plan your prepping schedule around it.

If it’s dishes that need to be cooked, you need to get all the props and styling ready while the food is being prepared, so that you get to take the photo at the right time.

Follow the Right Order!

There is a lot of staging going on in a food photoshoot, and the order of the decision-making when it comes to styling matters a lot.

First, take a look at what is being served, then what it is being served on (a special plate, a serving platter, or a slate?), and then finally decide what else needs to be added into the picture to give it context and the right atmosphere.

Tips on How to Prepare Shoes for a Product Photo Shoot

A Couple of Things to Do Ahead of Time

When you’re choosing your items before the shoot, take the selected shoes out of the inventory, and make sure it reflects the high quality you want to present in the photos in real life too.

Clean the shoes, stuff them with shape-holding materials and box them – this way you’ll make sure they’re in their best possible shape once it’s time to shoot.

Don’t Forget About the Final Clean 

Give the shoes a final polish before the shoot and remove everything that’s only there to hold them in position – these items mustn’t be visible in the photos.

Tie the Laces!

Tie shoelaces and adjust whatever else needs to look like it would during actual use.

You want to inspire the potential buyer’s imagination and not make them feel like they’re in a warehouse looking at shoes on shelves.

Bonus: Software To Help You Plan for A Product Photo Shoot

It’s a lot of information to absorb, and planning for a product photoshoot can be time-consuming. To help make things easier I want to share with you some of the software which I’ve found helpful for planning a product photoshoot.

Milanote

Milanote software for organizing product photo shoots
Milanote is an easy-to-use tool to organize your ideas and projects into visual boards

Milanote is an easy-to-use tool for creatives to organize ideas and projects into visual boards.

It allows you to upload images and files, save text, images, and links from the internet, add notes and photos from your phone, and, of course, write notes and to-do lists to facilitate your planning.

Notion

Notion software for organization
Notion is a workspace that adapts to your needs.

Notion is one workspace for team collaboration, personal milestones, and everything in between.

Notion can be customized to make it work the way you want it to. Just drag and drop to craft the dashboard, website, doc, or system you need.

Mindmeister

Mindmeister
Mindmeister is a collaborative mind mapping tool

Mindmeister allows you to create unlimited subtopics and explore your thoughts, color coding for clarity and style.

As your map takes shape, you can add context to topics with attachments, embedded media, and more.

MindMeister’s features will guide you through your first mind maps to maximum creativity, which allows for a timely and as close to imagined result as possible.

Conclusion

Planning for a product photo shoot doesn’t have to be complicated. By following these simple tips and using the right software, you’ll be able to plan ahead and make sure that your next photoshoot goes smoothly.

If you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends or colleagues! And if you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to get in touch with me via the Contact form. Thanks for reading!

P.S Don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly product photography newsletter where we share useful tips on how to improve your product photography skills and get a steady stream of new clients!

Disclosure: OHMYCAMERA.com is a participant in several affiliate programs and may be compensated for referring traffic and business to companies from affiliate programs at no additional cost to you.

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Aleksandrs Karevs OHMYCAMERA Founder & Author

Hi, my name is Aleksandr and I am a full-stack digital marketer from Riga, Latvia. In 2018 I became obsessed with photography and decided to create this blog to share my knowledge about both photography and marketing. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V.

Aleksandrs Karevs OHMYCAMERA Founder & Author

Hi, my name is Aleksandr and I am a full-stack digital marketer from Riga, Latvia. In 2018 I became obsessed with photography and decided to create this blog to share my knowledge about both photography and marketing. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V.

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Disclosure: OHMYCAMERA.com is a participant in several affiliate programs and may be compensated for referring traffic and business to companies from affiliate programs at no additional cost to you.