What I do before each photo shoot


What I do before each photo shoot is just as important as what I do during the shoot. Preparation! Would you go on a long road trip without

checking how much gas you have in the car? Do you check the level of air in your tires? How about changing your oil? Some people might think,

well no I don't.  There are gas stations along the way, so if something happens I just stop and get it fixed. Sure you can do that, but doesn't that

risk changing the whole experience of the road trip?  Issues that arise during your road trip only delay you getting where you are going. And if

you have passengers in the card with you, they probably won't be happy with any delays. Well the ideas and premise that go into preparing for a

road trip are the same that go into my preparation for a photo shoot. Be prepared, this will ensure that my clients and I have the bet experience

possible during the photo shoot. Here is the checklist that I run through before every event I am photographing: 


  • Check the weather - It is important to know what weather is going to be like the day of the event. Checking the weather helps me determine
  • any specific equipment that might be needed on the shoot. Not the type of equipment to protect my camera from the weather, even thought
  • that is important.  What I want to learn about is the type of lighting equipment that will be needed. Is my soft-box lighting system the right
  • thing to bring or will I need my 5-in-1 reflectors?
  • Cleaning my camera -  What, isn't it clean already? Sure it is, but dust particles are not always visible to the naked eye.  Making sure that not only the outside of my camera is clean is imperative, but the inside is even more important. Checking the sensor to make sure that it is free of dust is the most important task. 
  • Prepare my lenses - Just as important as cleaning the camera is cleaning my lenses. Back to my road trip analogy, do you clean the windshield of your car before you go on a road trip? Enough said. 
  • Charging all batteries - I use rechargeable batteries. My back-up camera battery is fully charged at all times. Rechargeables are the best option for my flashes. I don't like using disposable batteries because if you don't shoot until they are dead, then you need to remember the next time you use them how much life is left. And it is so hard to figure that out, that I just ended up getting rid of them. It is easier to keep track of rechargeables, you just simply recharge before every event. This way you start every shoot with fully charged batteries,. As a side note, once a year I buy new rechargeable batteries. Unfortunately the lifespan of rechargeables is not forever. 
  • Memory cards - Reformating my memory cards three times before every event is important. This ensure that all previous images are deleted off the card. This also prolongs the life of the memory card. Yes, memory cards do have a lifespan and proper care will have them lasting a lot longer. 
  • Back-up equipment - I always make sure that I have in my camera bag, or at the least in my car, a back-up camera. Call me overly cautious, but you never know what is going to go wrong.  Will the camera jam? What if someone bumps into you and the camera slips out of your hands?  You just never know.  Having two flashes in my camera bag at all times is a must, just in case something happens with my main flash. I don't want to ruin anyone's special day because of a problem with my equipment. 
  • Laptop - A laptop is a must have on any shoot. Sometimes, I use it to show the clients their photos during the shoot. This gives me the opportunity to discuss various poses with them and make changes as necessary. I also bring as a backup to my memory card.  My camera has two memory cards, one is a back-up to the other. But the more redundancy in backups the better. 
  • The location - If the event is at a location I haven't shot before, I will want to scout it out before hand. Depending on the type of event, I may go to the location a week before and spend time walking around looking for the best location for the shot I have planned. Even if I have been to the location before, things could have changed. Trees could have moved or less in bloom. I have seen benches added and removed. I will arrive early to the event location, sometimes an hour and a half early. This way I can determine the best spot to take pictures based on present circumstances and make sure nothing has changed since the last time I was there. 
  • Camera settings - Now that all the prep work has been done, I want to make sure that my camera settings are all correct. I may even use my manual presets, as they will allow me to move quickly from one location that has a lot of sun, to a location that has a lot of shade. Having the manual presets already programmed in the camera allows me to adapt to the change of locations quickly. 
  • Additional equipment - Depending on the event, a monopod or a tripod might be needed. If this is so, testing them to make sure they are still in good working order since the last time they were used.  
  • Confirm with the client - Before the event, my client can expect to be contacted by me at least two times the week before. The day before the event I will want to confirm the time and location. During the contact I will send an email to my clients with some helpful tips about the the photo shoot. Whether they are tips about the location, time of day and sun location, or other helpful information. 
  • Confirm with vendors - If necessary, I will have several conversations with any vendors that will be at the event. Anyone from the make-up artist to the wedding planner. It is important to me to have a good working relationship with all vendors. For weddings, if available, speaking to the officiant to make sure they are okay with photos being taken during the ceremony. 
  • Update my "Shot List" - This is the list of those "must have" shots. Sometimes the list includes "must haves" that were requested by my clients.  Most often they are the list of shots based on my walk through of the location prior to the event.  In addition to my list of shots, it is important for me to have written down the schedule for the event. For example, if shooting a wedding, it is important to keep track of the photographs that need to be taken before the ceremony, at the ceremony and then at the reception. 


So this is what I do to prepare before each shot shoot. These steps allow me to maximize my time behind the camera which gives me the best change to get the best pictures.  I hope that you enjoyed my blog post.  If you have any questions, please post them on my Facebook site at www.facebook.com/ralphlovuolophotogray or you can email me directly at ralph@ralphlovuolophotography.com. I look forward to being your photographer. 



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