5 Pro Tips on Putting Together a Creative for a Photoshoot

Want to explore your favorite ideas on-set and build your best portfolio? Try these five effective tips for putting together a creative before your next photoshoot.

When you are working for a client, it’s your job to interpret their creative ideas and bring them to life. However, as an artist yourself, it’s equally important that you exercise your own personal ideas as well! This is what many artists have coined as a creative. Putting together a creative is a great way to start any creative process.

A creative is a personal project meant for you to experiment with new ideas to help expand and diversify your portfolio. Putting together a creative helps you push yourself to try new things, whether that be a new style of lighting, shooting in different locations, or new propping techniques. Not only does putting together a creative benefit your portfolio, but it also can help show future clients that your skills are versatile and that you demonstrate your own creativity!

There are a couple things to consider when putting together a creative, so keep these things in mind before your next photoshoot for Shutterstock. Here are 5 tips to consider when putting together a creative for a photoshoot.

5 Pro Tips on Putting Together a Creative
Tip #1: Start with a mood board

Mood boards are one of the greatest tools you can utilize when pursuing any creative project. Typically made up of an arrangement of images, materials, colors, or text, a mood board serves as the backbone for your project. In addition, it will help you relay your creative vision to any other members of your production team.

An easy way to start is by compiling images on your computer or phone, sketching or writing out ideas, as well as creating a color palette. Instagram and Pinterest are popular for creating mood boards, as they both have save photo and pin-to-board features that are handy tools when collecting and compartmentalizing images.

Once you are satisfied with the content you’ve gathered, start organizing images into a PDF or digital board. Then, curate images by idea or color. The more detailed and organized your board is, the easier it will be to follow! Creating a mood board will help you define a clear vision of what you want to make when you’re putting together a creative, as well as how you want it to look. We advise creating a digital board is because digital is always easier for sharing. It isn’t limited the way print is. This board will serve as a reference point during your shoot.

Tip #2: Preparation is key, so plan ahead

Scrambling to pull something together within a week’s time is never easy. It’s always beneficial to allow yourself some buffer time to knead out all your details well in advance. Try and choose a date in advance (we recommend a two week minimum), so you can effectively schedule your team, book your studio, scout your locations, and pull together your equipment and props. If you are using a team, ensure that you keep everyone in the loop with dates and locations as you go along. That way, you know that everyone is completely aware of the plan.

Last minute problems or scheduling conflicts are very common. However, if you leave yourself enough space to tackle those issues you will help alleviate any unnecessary stress.

Tip #3: Source a team of collaborators

Putting together a creative isn’t just a great way to build your portfolio. It’s also the perfect opportunity to collaborate with other talented artists, building your network!

Doing a fashion or portrait creative? Don’t hesitate to reach out to makeup artists and wardrobe stylists with your concept and/or portfolio. If there are any modeling agencies in your city, contact them and request a new-face package. Newly signed models always need images for their portfolio, and usually you can trade TFP (time for photos). If there are no agencies around, interesting looking people exist everywhere. Don’t hesitate to reach out via Instagram or within your circle!

Doing a food or still life creative? Try and contact a food or prop stylist. Even if they don’t have much experience, it’s a great opportunity to experiment your craft with each other while you’re putting together a creative.

Having other members you trust on your team will help you focus on the photography and creative direction, all while they provide their own set of skills and knowledge to help make your creative a success!

Tip #4: Choosing a location: on-location or in studio

It’s important to ensure that the space your shooting has what you need to make putting together a creative as successful as possible.

Shooting in a studio

If you’re shooting in studio, there are a few things you should consider first before booking. Does it come with equipment, or do you need your own? Will you need a studio with natural light? How much space will you and your team need? There are other base necessities you might want to see if the studio includes such as wifi, a kitchen, a bathroom (you’d be surprised), steamer, tables, V flats, continuous lighting, and many other fine details. Do your research and compare spaces prior to booking. Even a living room with a lot of space and beautiful natural light can do the trick.

Shooting on location

If you decide to shoot on-location a pro tip would be to do a location scout prior to shooting! Familiarize yourself with the areas you’d like to shoot in, pay attention to where the light hits and when, and ensure whether or not the location your shooting at requires a permit. Take pictures on your phone of the angles and areas you’d like to shoot that way you can go back and reference them before you go out and shoot. If you are putting together a creative outside, don’t forget to keep an eye on the weather and plan accordingly.

Tip #5: Plan out your shots and create a shoot schedule

Creating a schedule when you are putting together a creative is a massive help. A schedule will keep you and your team organized and ensure you stay on track. However, not every photographer likes to over-plan their creatives. Some like to go with the flow and find inspiration as they shoot, whereas others like to ensure that they have every detail covered. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to have your ideas and concepts ready to ensure that the shoot runs smoothly. A schedule is especially key if you’ve only booked a certain amount of hours in studio, or need to keep up with the daylight opportunities your space allows.

Try and have your schedule and mood board printed or digitally readily available for everyone on the team to see. Consider sending it in advance to ensure everyone is aware of how much time they have to perform any tasks or responsibilities.

And definitely don’t forget to have fun

Don’t forget that putting together a creative is meant to be a fun and experimental way to build your portfolio. There will be times when you have a successful session and create lots of fantastic content, and other times it may not work out the way you planned. Regardless of the outcome, every shoot teaches you something new and helps you grow as a photographer. We can’t wait to see what you create next.

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