How I Plan My Photoshoots

A lot of things have changed since launching The Darling Niki over 5 years ago including how I approach my photography.  In the beginning it was me, an iPhone 4S, a willing buddy at any random spot we found (haphazardly snapping photos), and the Instagram Valencia filter (I shudder…).  Today my photography is a careful mix of random and planned, iPhone and professional, and edited very carefully and very consistently.  I have shot with photographers and had Chris act as my Instagram boyfriend probably more than he would like (just kidding, he mostly enjoys the creativity) and at this point in my blogging career I have a few rules to ensure a smooth process.

Keep a running list of locations to shoot

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I am still working on being better about this rule, everything is a work in progress.  I can’t tell you how many times I have asked Chris to take a photo (or even worse, a photographer I am paying) in a location that I am not thrilled with because I am crunched for time or feel frustration mounting while I hunt for THE SPOT.  I always end up disappointed with the photo, a lot of times don’t bother posting it, and basically wasted an outfit and time for nothing.  Not ideal.  I have now started a note on my phone and will update it anytime I see a location I want to use in the future.  Not only does this help the in the moment frustration but it’s also so much easier to select outfits to shoot.

Create a vision board 

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This is something new I am trying and I have to say, it’s super helpful!  Last month Chris and I were going through other blogger’s Instagram accounts when he said “we are doing the same thing everyone else is doing.” He was beyond right!  How many bloggers have you seen do the flowers in the sink photo or the coffee cup held out in front photo (guilty)?  I decided to create a private Pinterest board of images I liked and could pull inspiration from without copying and have started sharing images with Chris to show him what I am looking for as we shoot together.  It’s also so helpful if you are choosing to shoot with a photographer so they have an idea of what you like and want in the photos they take.

Try everything on ahead of time


I cannot begin to tell you how many times I come up with an outfit in my  head, don’t bother to try it, put it on to shoot and HATE IT!  Do yourself a favor and try the entire outfit on ahead of time with all the accessories you plan to wear for the shoot.  If you love it take a quick mirror selfie so you can remember exactly what you put together.

Pack like a pro

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Once you try on your looks and snap quick reference photos pack it all up!  I have played with a lot of different ways to keeping myself organized for big shoots and have found a system that works great for me.  I have a bunch of identical bags and will place all the items for each look inside of the bag.  Depending on what I am shooting and where I will either hang my actual outfit and hang the accessory bag over the hanger or fold the clothes inside the bag.  For really long shoots I will staple numbers to the outside of the bag so I know what order to shoot in.

Know what you want

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This one has come with years of taking photos.  In the beginning my photos were dumb luck.  I would ask a friend or Chris to snap something without telling them what I was hoping for.  Same happened with photographers which is even worse because let me tell you, there were a few times I spend a lot of money and did not love what I had to work with.  My best advice is to know what you want the image to look like.  When I am shooting with a photographer I know what detail shots I want and what my “hero” piece is (the focal point of the outfit) so I can have my photog highlight.  When I am shooting with Chris I will take a photo from the exact angle I want, show it to him and then jump into the shot.

Don’t be afraid to ask

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Okay, my final piece of advice is to ask.  Ask for a specific detail shot, ask if your posture looks good on camera, ask if you should adjust angles, ask if your necklace is twisted, ask if you are squinting, ask about shadows, and when shooting with a professional ask for suggestions to make your image more unique.  Most important, take a quick moment after shooting the look to review what was captured, if you aren’t happy with enough images ask for a few more, it’s okay!

I hope this helps you during your next shooting adventure!

XO, Niki

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