How to organise a photo shoot for your business

organise-photo-shoot-creative-womens-circle-monica-ng By Monica Ng

As an online business owner, it can be difficult to juggle the different roles and responsibilities required to grow the business. We’re expected to not only be the designer, maker, marketer, accountant but also a photographer too. As an online business, it can be said that photographs are the window into your shop’s world, but the subject can sometimes be a scary one. ISO? Aperture? Shutter speed? Huh?

Investing some time and money to create crisp, well-lit and creatively styled photos with a model can really help you to get your shop noticed and lead to more consistent sales. Poor lighting and composition and not showing the scale of your product could be letting your shop down. I’ll admit the the idea of taking some amazing photos for my online jewellery shop, Geometric Skies, paralysed me! But I quickly learned that help is available and I want to share my tips with you.

Before you embark on this scary but exciting adventure of procuring help with your photographs, my first piece of advice is to talk to everyone you know. Yes, everyone! You never know who in your existing network might know someone who may be able to help you revamp your photos.

Find a photographer Look to your network of friends or the creative community (perhaps even CWC's Circle Database?) for a photographer. Peruse their portfolio to ensure their style is complimentary to yours. Usually photographers charge a fixed rate per hour for either a half-day (approx. 4 hours) or a full day ( approx. 7 hours).

There are photographers to suit every budget. While not always the case, photography students or photographers starting out in the industry who want to build a portfolio may be happy to help you for free, trade or at a reduced cost. However, a photographer’s experience can do wonders to elevate your brand, so consider carefully the investment of a professional photographer (and for that matter, stylist, hair and make up artist, model etc) with the outcome you want to achieve for your photos and your business.

Important questions to ask a photographer might be:

  • What is their hourly or day rate, and how many photos will you expect to receive in your final cut?
  • Are there any expenses that might be incurred on top (travel, post-production/image editing etc)?
  • What are the copyright/licensing restrictions that will apply to the final photos you are supplied with (i.e. how, where and for how long can you use them for your business?)
  • Are they professional, flexible and open to ideas to achieving your vision?


Find a Hair & Makeup Artist (HMUA) Beautiful hair and makeup can make the difference between stunning photos or mediocre ones. Some HMUAs, especially those who are starting off in the industry, may be open to a trade too if budget is a concern. Contact your local makeup academy and join online makeup forums and social media groups on your search for a hair and makeup artist.

Make sure to have a look through their portfolio and have a chat about their previous experience and their future aspirations. If you like them and their work, it’ll make the experience of working together much more enjoyable. Other things you should look for are:

  • Does their portfolio demonstrate variety in their styles and experiences?
  • Are there any testimonials from previous people they have worked with?
  • Are they professional, flexible and open to ideas to achieving your vision?

Select a Model Choosing the right model is important because they essentially become the face of your brand (or at least for the current collection!). If you don’t wish to approach a model agency, online forums or social media groups are a fantastic place to scout for a model.

When it comes to choosing your model consider these things:

  • What type and how much experience does he/she have?
  • When you’re communicating with them are they responsive, professional, enthusiastic and flexible?
  • Does your model embody the essence of your brand?
  • Will your target market identify with the model?

Ensure that you or the photographer provide the model with a Model Release to sign before the shoot begins (preferably days before), so that you can be sure he or she is happy for his/her face to be used across your promotional material now and in the future, and all terms are agreed upon.

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5 other tips and tricks

1) Use Pinterest or other shareable online tool to create a mood board for the photo shoot This will serve as inspiration for what you imagine the theme of your photo shoot to look like. This will help everyone involved to see what your vision is and what you’re aiming for.

2) Do some location scouting Brainstorm some possible location backdrops and walk around to snap some pictures to add to your mood board to show your photographer.

Some locations require permission for you to hold your photo shoot. Check with local rules and regulations for further information.

3) Be organised It’s helpful to set up expectations with each person involved prior to the day, so everyone knows what is expected of them on the day of the photo shoot. On the day of the shoot, you might be a little nervous and it’s going to be busy. Print out a copy of a map of the area where you’re shooting and highlight the streets you previously scouted – it’ll come in really handy. And don't forget to ask the photographer to bring a copy of a model release for the model to sign on the day of the shoot, or organise one yourself.

Before the day of the photo shoot, compile a series of ‘looks’. Printing out hard copy photos may help you organise individual items into complementary looks. And while you're at it, why not create a checklist of all the items to be photographed? Sometimes, you may forget that an item belongs in a specific look – if you have the checklist, you can double check and make sure everything gets photographed.

4) Be nice and don’t be afraid to ask! If you have enquired with a photographer, model or stylist but you choose not to work with them, be cordial and nice in your decline of their services. Creative communities are small and you never know when you will cross paths again.

Remember, it’s okay to not know everything – especially if photography or styling is not your field of expertise. If there’s anything you’re unsure of on photo shoot day, just ask and you shall learn!

5) Be social! When the hard work is all done and it’s time to share all the creative work on your social media channels, don’t forget to spread the love and include links to the photographer’s, HMUA’s and model’s websites and social media channels too. Keep nurturing your new professional connections even after the photo shoot. If the photo shoot went well, you never know when there may be more opportunities to collaborate again.

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Have fun and good luck!


Behind the scenes photography: Monica Ng Model photography: Aaron Browning Hair & Makeup Artist: Dianne Murphy Model: Kristine Jensson

Monica Ng left her accounting career at the end of 2013 to run Geometric Skies, her Etsy jewellery business, alongside her jewellery and object design studies at the Design Centre in Sydney. Find Monica on Instagram @geometric_skies or at her blog.