Model. Photographer. Hair and makeup. 

These are the first things that come to mind when you’re preparing for your collection photo shoot, but there is much more to it than that, to truly be able to capture the “essence” of your brand.

These photos are what the whole world will see, so it is so important that they engage your viewer! The photos will need to excite them and entice them to buy your product.

So what do you need to do to prepare for a great photo shoot?


Firstly, what is your collection VOICE and who is the customer you are calling out to?
Go back to the beginning and refer to your customer persona, vision, mood and range boards.

These all tell the visual story of your brand and your collection that you have created.
Use these tools as a starting point and an inspiration to create the theme for your shoot. This will be the anchor point from which all of your other ideas will stem.

Next, you need to compose the THEME of your shoot …
What do you want these photos to say?

Scour the internet, fashion magazines and collate all things that inspire you.

These will help you build your story and collate a vision board that will reveal the look and feel for the shoot.

WHERE it will be – the type of studio settling or location to scout

WHAT it will feel like – the ‘mood’ for the shoot

From here you will be able to start on the fun stuff!



They are the king of your of your shoot. Ensure you engage with someone whose style and quality of work resonates with what you would like to achieve. Photographers are so varied. They all have their own signature style, so this is really important that you choose wisely. Once you have a shortlist of three, contact them and outline your requirements to get a rough quote to see if they are within your budget. Photographer’s costs can vary dramatically depending on experience and clients they represent.

Other questions to ask:

• What will you be shooting?
A campaign, editorial, lookbook, e-commerce, or a combination? You will need to be very clear regarding your requirements so the photographer clearly understands what it is you are after and be able to assist you with creating your vision.

• What lighting do you require?
This is so important as lighting creates drama and sets the mood.

• What will the backdrop be?
These are all important questions that need solutions, before the shoot.

• Also, will you be shooting just in a studio or on location too?
Different equipment will be required, so confirm all these details.
Allocating enough time for the shoot is crucial based on your requirements.

• Will you want the raw files that you will edit or would you require them to edit your photos for you?

• How many and what type of shots do you require?
For example, if you are shooting for your e-commerce images for your online store, you will require a minimum of four images for each garment – front, back, side, close up and possibly a styled shot.

Whatever you decide ensure that you are clear about what you require, so you are not disappointed on the day.

Once the photographer has all this information, they will be able to give you a final quote.
TIPS Ensure you shoot all your tops and bottoms separately as well as the outfit, as you will need these individual shots for your e-commerce store.

Include shots with eye contact directly into the camera – they create powerful and strong images that connect the model with your customer.

Ask your photographer to shoot images in both portrait and landscape so you have a variety of images for different platforms.


These shots take longer to shoot, so make sure that the garment sits perfectly on the model. These images will be shot as high-resolution files so your customer can zoom in, so you need to pay close attention to all the finer details. You may also choose to have a simple background that makes your garment pop for these photos.

Campaign and editorial:
These are all about capturing the mood of your collection. Get creative! Garments can be styled in a more editorial style to really show off your brand, so choose your signature pieces, generally between eight and 10 looks. You can also bring in props to tell the story if you are doing a studio shoot, or choose an amazing location that amplifies your theme. It’s all about creating drama and attention through amazing photos.

The two shoots can be done on the same day, but you have to really be organized with military timing! Most photos shoots run for eight hours, so if you suspect you will not be able to achieve both in one day then you may have to consider two half-day hour shoots, but remember this will come at a cost, so it really depends on your budget.

TIP Your photographer is a great source for model recommendations and they always have their favourites. If your photographer and model work well together, you will definitely see this in the photos they create.

2. Model

Finding the perfect model is key to bring your theme to life. A great model is like a chameleon and should be able to morph into whatever character the client requires. They should know their body and angles, understand lighting and be confident. Using a professional model is highly recommended as this will show in the photos if they’re not. This is where you really need to invest some money. So just spend the time to scout someone that represents your brand. Stalking on Instagram helps too!

TIP Ask your model to come to shoot with clean hair and nails, or organise them to get a manicure and pedicure before the shoot. If a light spray tan is required, make sure you clearly communicate the colour you are after, so there are no surprises on the day. Ask the model to wear nude underwear and to bring any shoes that maybe suitable for the shoot, just ask for them to send photos before the shoot for you to look at. If you have new shoes for the model, you could get them to wear them in before the shoot, as they will be standing in them for long hours, so you want them to be comfortable as possible.



These artists are worth their weight in lipstick and hairspray. That friend that you always compliment on how great her makeup looks just won’t cut it here, you need a pro. Special makeup and skills are required for photography, so investing in a professional artist is crucial. Send them your vision boards before the shoot so they know exactly what look you require. As a rule, you will need to allow an hour and a half for HMUA on the day. It is also recommended that they stay for the day, as touch-ups will be required during the shoot with all the clothing changes going on and also to change looks for different shots. They are also another experienced set of eyes and hands-on set to make sure the model looks perfect in every shot.

They are also a great source for model recommendations. So hit them up!

TIP Get three written quotes for all outsourced resources. Prices can vary drastically so this way you can compare. Also don’t be afraid to negotiate, as most times people are willing to drop their prices for a job and all you need to do is ask.

Costs can quickly blow out when you are employing multiple resources so make sure that you stick to your budget.

Remember, you get what you pay for…so an amateur is not going to give you the same results as a professional.



This part is crucial to achieving the outcome you are looking for. Create visual boards for everything and a to-do list for everyone! You will thank yourself on the day when everything goes to plan.


You will then be able to use these and clearly communicate your vision to each member of your team before the shoot, so they know exactly what you require from them.

TIP I recommend you brief each member of your team before for the photo shoot and also email them the vision boards and your requirements, along with all details for the shoot, so there is no misunderstanding on the day!


There are so many things to prepare when you’re doing a shoot, but remember you’re your Product is the Star!

Now comes the fun part: styling your outfits and creating looks for the shoot. Create looks that are inspirational for your customer and not the obvious choices, as most of us can do this. Your customer wants to be inspired.

It’s also as important to find that perfect shoe or that amazing piece of jewellery that will compliment and elevate your outfits and make them amazing.

At this point, you could invest in the services of a professional stylist to come and curate looks for you or with you. Sometimes it is worth investing in a professional to look at your collection with fresh eyes. The can also be part of your team on the day of the shoot.

By curating amazing looks you will be inspiring and engaging your customer to buy your pieces. Just think of Instagram or your favourite fashion magazines, these images are tools to inspire us to fall in ‘love’ or ‘like’ things that we want to buy!

Now its time to try on these looks (preferably on the model you are using for the shoot), as sometimes what you put together in a flat-lay may not work when they are on a body.

Before the shoot you should also run through with your model your inspiration mood boards and poses you want to achieve. Ask her to show you some, so you are confident that she will be able to execute them on the day.

Try different outfits and accessories until you are truly happy with each look. Once you have it take a photo of the whole outfit. They can then be used for the following:

RUN SHEET – collate all your outfits on one page so you have a visual run sheet for the shoot.

TIP have someone accountable for ticking everything off every shot, so you don’t miss photographing anything, as it will get quite hectic on the day. It also pays to have a written run sheet for each style so you have another form of checking everything off.

OUTFIT – print off a picture of each one and hang with the styles, this way you or your stylist/dresser can visually see each outfit on the day.

TIP If you are using different accessories for each look, then put the photo in a plastic sleeve with all the accessories, so everything is in one place and you are not wasting time on the day looking for things.

Have all your accessories lined up or hanging with each outfit.
Also clearly communicate how you will work with your stylist/dresser so you know who is responsible for what.

The day before the shoot, contact everyone to reconfirm the shoot details. Make sure you’ve got everyone’s number and that everyone’s got yours. If it’s an outdoor shoot, make sure you have a confirmed Plan B in place well before the day if the weather is against you!


It’s the big day. You have done all the hard work preparing for the shoot so it’s time to let the magic happen.

As it’s going to be a long day make sure everyone is excited and primed. It’s up to you to set the right tone as soon as they walk through the door – if you’re stressed everyone else will be too and you don’t want that! Make sure everyone has had his or her morning coffee or drink of choice. Enlist someone to be responsible for this and some morning treats to start the day off on a happy note!

TIP – Before the shoot, prepare or order catering for the day. Make food light, healthy and easy to eat, so a variety of small bites work well. Also have a variety of drinks on hand to last the day and chocolate and lollies are always a good idea especially when it hits 3pm. Be sure to ask your team for their dietary requirements before the shoot.

The day will start with hair and make and if you can get an artist that does both – that’s a win and cost-effective.

Start by confirming your makeup colours and doing a quick mock-up of the hair to make sure they are on the right track. Regularly check in to see how they are going, so you don’t have to backtrack and change things as this wastes a lot of time.

TIP – If it’s in your budget, you could have a hair and makeup trial before the shoot. Be sure to negotiate a good price.

Now chat with your photographer to reconfirm the flow for the day – use your Run Sheet. Get them to set up all the lights and camera and do some test shots while the model is getting ready, so this way you can confirm you are happy with everything before you start.

Make sure the temperature in the room is comfortable and you have some great music playing that resonates with the style of your Collection to get everyone in the mood. When everyone feels good and relaxed, it will show in the photos.

Now let the magic happen and it truly does if you have planned well and have the right crew. This is the first time you will probably see your garments come to life and trust me – it will give you goosebumps! All your hard work and preparation does pay off when you see your Collection come to life right before your eyes.

Most importantly be present and have FUN!

The Blog was written by:
Manuela Castelluzzo
Read more about Manuela below