How to Manage a Photo Shoot

By Sophie Southern ; Updated September 15, 2017

Photo shoots can seem fun, exciting and glamorous -- but they require a lot of work, preparation and organization. It is essential to properly manage a photo shoot in order to keep the team on task, fulfill client requirements and help everything run smoothly. The photographer or production assistant -- or both -- may be responsible for managing the photo shoot and keeping track of models, makeup artists, hairstylists, clothing or product stylists, assistants and studio time. With a little advanced planning, you can manage your photo shoot smoothly and effectively to get the job done.

Create a call sheet with important information. A call sheet should list the name of the client or shoot project, the photographer, all team members, where the shoot is taking place, the general schedule of the shoot, what time all team members need to arrive -- this may be different for different people -- and what needs to be accomplished. All participants in a photo shoot generally expect to receive a call sheet several days prior to the actual shoot.

Confirm with each member of the team the night before. This is imperative for avoiding -- or fixing -- last-minute cancellations and problems. If you sense any hesitation from a team member the night before, ask directly if they intend to show up to the shoot. Missing an essential member of the team can often prevent a photo shoot from taking place.

Call the studio to confirm space and equipment. If the shoot is taking place at the photographer’s personal studio, verify that all of the necessary equipment is available, including clothing racks or product shelves, accessories or set components.

Make a list of each look or set-up with all of the components and put them in order. If you are shooting clothing, products or food, it is essential to know what goes with what before you get to the studio. Create visuals on your computer grouping items together for each shot to make managing even easier.

Give your team time checks. It is essential to keep the entire team on track and make sure nobody spends too much time on one single shot. Let team members know when they are approaching the time limit for a shot or if you think they are running late.

Make it clear how payment is being handled. Many clients, particularly in the fashion and advertising industries, do not pay for photography jobs until 30 to 90 days after the shoot. However, models usually expect to be paid the same day unless you have made prior arrangements with the agent. Make sure you go over each team member’s payment expectations before the day of the shoot to prevent any problems from arising.

About the Author

Sophie Southern has been a freelance writer since 2004. Her writing has been featured in "JPG" magazine and on Zlio.com. Southern holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from the School of Visual Arts.