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Having some photo shoot ideas in your back pocket will help you when it comes to sparking your creativity. If you’re a portrait photographer (or aspiring to become one!), you certainly know that posed photo sessions require careful planning and styling in order to yield superior results. What’s great about posed photo shoots is the fact that you can get really creative with your ideas and make them as elaborate as you want.
Unlike candid portraiture, such sessions allow both you and your models to get fully prepared. Because of this, posed and styled photo sessions are always a great occasion for engaging collaborations between photographers, models and other professionals such as stylists.
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The following 12 photo shoot ideas are here to help you become a more creative and better-organized portrait photographer. We’ll cover these themes:
- Environmental Portraits
- Conceptual Portraits
1. Couples Photo Shoot Ideas
When it comes to photographing couples, bear in mind that their facial expressions and gestures are much more important than the choice of location. Depending on the wishes of your clients, you can go classic or go unconventional. In case your clients want a luxury photoshoot, you can ask a stylist to help them with clothing choice.
Wild And Free
This kind of photo shoot is suitable for clients who aren’t thrilled by typically posed sessions. Ask your subjects to express their playful side and let them have fun like children. You can also suggest some quirky poses which will make them laugh! This type of photo shoot is ideal for wide open spaces, parks, meadows, and gardens.
For clients who like a classy and elegant atmosphere, you can try to capture the vibe of their romance with a dark and moody theme. In this case, you should suggest classic poses for couples such as one behind the other, holding hands, standing back to back, sitting on the ground together and so on. You should definitely make sure to convert a few images to b&w for couples who cherish vintage aesthetics.
2. Wedding Photo Shoot Ideas
Wedding photography is a huge and rather competitive industry. In addition to top-notch gear and advanced shooting and editing skills, you need to have many great ideas in order to become a sought-after photographer in this genre. Make sure to surprise your clients by offering them more than those typical wedding shots!
Reflections And Symmetry
Engaging compositions matter in any genre of photography. Wedding photography is a perfect occasion to use your knowledge of composition – you can play around with reflections (look for bodies of water, windows, and mirrors) and create wonderful symmetric compositions such as the one below.
If you like drone photography, you should definitely try to use your drone for wedding shots and create stunning aerial views that your clients will cherish a lot. In order to avoid cluttered aerial photographs, you should bring your clients to a secluded area, such as a small island or a mountain top. This type of photo session has to be arranged well before the wedding since it can be quite demanding.
3. Maternity Photo Shoot Ideas
Maternity photo shoots are getting more and more popular these days. Many couples want to have beautiful memories of these fleeting moments and they can do it only with the help of a skillful photographer. Since the female body changes rapidly in the span of a few months, photographers need to get creative with the growing belly but also make sure that the mother-to-be feels comfortable and relaxed during the shoot.
In case your client wants to try something entirely different yet fun, you can shoot her maternity session in a bathtub full of flowers. This kind of shot looks very artistic and it feels calming and pure. Bathtub sessions can be shot either indoors or outdoors, but if you have a portable vintage bathtub, you should definitely photograph it outdoors in natural light!
Make It Sensual
Maternity photo shoots don't have to be all about the mother-to-be and her belly! If you include the father-to-be, the images will feel more complete and they will also have more storytelling potential. You can also make the atmosphere sensual, with a certain boudoir vibe, for couples who feel comfortable in front of the camera.
4. Newborn Photo Shoot Ideas
Organizing a photo session for babies can be very difficult and demanding, especially when you need to work with newborns. Your photo ideas for this kind of session should include different props and outfits, as well as group photos with siblings. You should also make sure that everything is safe and clean since babies can be extremely sensitive. Photo shoots with newborns should be done in studio or at home, while babies (3 to 6 months) can be shot outdoors as well.
Newborn photographs typically show babies that look almost like dolls – perfectly styled and wrapped up in beautiful pastel-colored blankets. You should offer your clients more spontaneous photos as well, which show the interaction between the mom and her baby. Such scenes are usually much more emotional than regular posed portraits of babies.
Never underestimate the power of humor and playfulness! If the baby was born in summer, you can make a mock-up beach in your studio, and the same goes for those born during winter – you can make a winter-themed setup. You will need a couple of props for this kind of session – you can buy them yourself or ask the parents to bring their own.
5. Kids Photo Shoot Ideas
Taking photos of kids is easier than photographing babies, especially when it comes to kids who love to pose for the camera. Your main task is to capture the unique personality of a child and in order to achieve that, it's best to shoot the combination of posed and candid shots. Don't give too many posing directions to kids – they are usually very photogenic but at the same time too impatient for complicated poses.
Kids enjoy being active – it doesn't matter if it means running around in the backyard or doing something creative, such as painting or helping the mom bake their favorite cookies. Try to capture those laid-back candid portraits of siblings doing something together – such photos tend to be really adorable, just like the one below!
All Dolled Up
For this type of photoshoot, the choice of the outfit really matters – you need to make sure that kids have matching outfits (if you shoot siblings) and that there are no distracting elements in the background. The idea is to create a truly stylish photograph that your client will want to print and frame.
6. Family Photo Shoot Ideas
Since every family is different, there are countless ways to organize family photoshoots. What really matters for this type of photoshoot are posing ideas – you need to know how to pose more than two people, which requires a certain preparation. You should also make sure that everyone is wearing matching outfits – too much randomness can make family portraits look unbalanced.
We usually associate silhouettes with romantic shots of couples, but it can be truly interesting to use them in dynamic family photo shoots, such as the one below. Silhouettes give a cinematic feel to images and they can definitely enhance the emotional impact of your family photo shoot.
Pets are important members of the family and they should be part of family photo shoots. When you photograph pets, go outside if you can because animals prefer natural light. Always avoid using flash when shooting animals because they are afraid of it and it can damage their eyesight.
7. Friends Photo Shoot Ideas
When you're about to photograph a group of friends, bear in mind that such photoshoots look great if they are being either adventurous or humorous. Instead of doing a typical posed session in the studio, go to an interesting location, give your friends props or come up with a theme.
A truly memorable photo shoot of a group of friends can take place at a beautiful scenic location. Something like a mountain top, riverside or deep forest is a perfect choice – people feel good when surrounded by nature and that can make images more magical as well. Feel free to experiment with unusual angles and shoot the group of people from above or from below.
You don't need to use typical studio props when shooting a group of people – something like a bicycle in the photo below can work perfectly! Props should enhance your composition and make it easier for you to depict the idea of friendship.
8. Band Photo Shoot Ideas
Musicians need great promotional pictures that can represent their work in the best light. For this reason, band photo shoots should rely on creative collaborations. Before you decide to collaborate with musicians, you should listen to their music so that you can get some ideas about possible locations and styling.
Band photoshoots can be as creative and as unusual as it gets. You can experiment with special effects and use a smoke machine or lasers. The choice of lighting really matters when it comes to such photo shoots so make sure that you have available both continuous and flash lighting as well as flash diffusers.
It might happen that members of the band you plan to shoot don't like posed sessions and prefer more spontaneous scenes. In such a case, the best option is to shoot a rehearsal and capture everyone playing their instruments in a relaxed setting. Such sessions can be shot outdoors as well.
9. Fashion Photo Shoot Ideas
Fashion photography is a rather complex genre which combines makeup, art and clothing into a coherent visual representation of fashion style. These photo shoots can be anything from rural to glamorous – it's up to you and your client to decide what kind of setup will match promotional needs.
Proper Color Combinations
Fashion photography has to be eye-catching in terms of colors and you'll probably need to collaborate with stylists and interior designers in order to achieve a perfect setup. Backgrounds of your fashion shots should matter as much as models and their clothing since fashion photography has different requirements from standard portraiture.
Urbex And Fashion
If you need to shoot streetwear, rather than hitting the crowded streets you should pick various abandoned locations with dramatic urban decay. Such locations are great for fashion shoots because they allow you to work without any typical distractions like traffic, passersby and so on.
10. Boudoir Photo Shoot Ideas
It can be challenging to come up with a truly unique boudoir session, but it's definitely worth efforts. It's useful to know that boudoir posing doesn't have to be over the top like a high fashion set – it can be much more subtle and relaxed. Since boudoir clients aren't necessarily experienced in modeling, you have to be able to help them with posing and find out what works best and what to avoid.
Inspired By Classic Art
Boudoir shots can be sensual in a classy way if you try to mimic lighting and composition found in various famous paintings. The shot below looks like an old Greek statue thanks to dreamy lighting and skillful editing.
Make It Mysterious
Boudoir photos can be quite subtle, even mysterious if shot from unusual angles and in low light. The photo below is a good example of such style – warm lighting and film-like grain give a certain vintage elegance to this boudoir shot.
11. Environmental Portrait Ideas
Environmental portraits depict people in situations and places that should say something about who they are. Such portraits are very common in photojournalism and you can often see them in magazines such as National Geographic. A successful environmental portrait can tell a compelling story about its subject.
Keep It Minimal
You don't have to include too many visual elements in order to tell a story about your subject. Sometimes, keeping it minimal can have much more impact on the viewer, just like the example below.
Environmental portraits can be more effective when loosely framed, because the main point of such portraits is to show both the subject and their surroundings. Because of this, it can be quite useful to shoot them with wide-angle lenses or with a 35mm prime lens.
12. Conceptual Portrait Ideas
Conceptual photography is meant to illustrate an idea which should be preconceived and understandable in the completed image. Bear in mind that conceptual photography isn't related to any specific subject – portraits, landscapes, product and abstract photography can be used to illustrate a certain concept.
Using makeup and similar techniques such as professional face painting can be a powerful way to express certain ideas and emotions. In such a case, closeup images of your model's face can get the message across in a rather dramatic way.
Enhance It In Post-Production
If you have an interesting concept that is too challenging or too expensive to be shot in a conventional way (in a studio or on location), you can still rely on skillful post-production. It can be really exciting to create a seamless composite image (such as the one below) that can help you express a certain idea.
To sum up, all these photo shoot ideas can lead to truly exciting projects and new collaborations. In addition to working with models, styled photo shoots will create opportunities for interaction with people from other creative industries. This can definitely help you enjoy your work and grow your business!
If you want to learn more about planning photo shoots, feel free to check out the following links!
- Take These 5 Steps To Ensure Successful Portrait Sessions
- 5 Pieces Of Advice That Every New Photographer Should Know
- Got a Photo Shoot Booked? Don’t Leave Without These Things!
- 25 Photoshoot Ideas to Inspire Your Next Editorial
- 5 Photoshoot Ideas Worth Stealing
- 52 Photography Projects: A Great Technique To Try Every Week Of The Year
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