Run a photoshoot

A successful photoshoot is dependent on many factors – and not just our Glasgow weather. Here’s a helpful guide to steer you through the process of running an effective photoshoot.


Think carefully about

  • what message you are trying to convey
  • who your audience is and what will attract them
  • how you will use the photos. Will it be online, in email, in print, large banners or adverts, or across several channels.


Think carefully about

  • how you can best tell the story or convey the message you need to - think creatively
  • how the image will be used and the technical or design requirement for that
  • who you need to appear in the picture and what will they be doing
  • what the best location and timing is for achieving the above
  • which of the three University photographic styles will work best for your needs
  • what props you will need, if any.


Book the photographer

  • Book a time and date with the photographer well in advance of your photoshoot
  • Let them know roughly what you’re planning and make sure you give them a fuller brief before the shoot

Find your locations

  • Go out and take a look at potential locations. If required, ask for permission and access to photograph in your location and let them know what to expect

Find your model/s

  • Find the right models for your photoshoot whether that be our students, staff or alumni. If you’ve thought careful about your purpose, this will help with identifying suitable models
  • You may wish to contact staff or alumni directly, or put out a call through student clubs and societies or groups for volunteers
  • Ensure that you have a method in place for collecting and storing your models' signed consent for the use of their images


  • Pull together any other items you may need to set the scene in your photoshoot
  • For some settings, you could ask the student, staff member or graduate to bring or organise equipment relevant to their work, such as notepads, course books, etc.
  • You can also bring back up items such as colourful scarves and coffee cups to dress the scene or to add colour and interest to the photo


Talk to the photographer, and be as specific as you can

  • A briefing helps them plan their equipment and lighting, but also to discuss any particular challenges they foresee. They may also have additional ideas to help you get what you need

Let the photographer know

  • Location, date and time
  • The message you are trying to convey and the focus of the photo
  • Where the photos are going to be used ie brochure cover, website, exhibition banners. If you have any designed layout you can show them, then do
  • If you need landscape, extreme landscape or portrait images
  • If you need space to put text or a text box over the photo – we call this negative space
  • If there’s a person in the photo what do you want them doing ie working, looking to camera, smiling
  • Any lighting issues you foresee.

Let your model/s know

  • Where and when to meet
  • What to expect
  • What to bring ie their study books
  • What to wear.

Art directing

As an art director your role is to work with the photographer to make sure you get the required shot.

  • Briefing: Talk with the photographer about what you need and the plan for the day.
  • Communication: Work with the photographer to make sure you get what you need. Ask to see some of the photos on the camera screen to check you’re getting the required shot and discuss changes or options.
  • Setting: Work with the photographer to make sure your model in the right place in the shot and doing what you need eg smiling, talking, working. And pay attention to negative space, backdrop or framing in your shot.
  • Timing: Keep an eye on the time and your plan. Make decisions on where to focus your time, and adapt if needed. Let the photographer know if you feel anything isn’t working and discuss moving on or trying something else.
  • Motivation: Keep an eye on your models in the shoot and whether they are tired and need a break, or to be changed over. Tiredness can show in photos.


  • Colour: Ask your models to avoid too much wearing black or navy. Colourful clothes will help them stand out.
  • Help: For larger photoshoots, with several models, get a colleague to come along and help manage the people and location. This will free you up to focus your attention on art directing.
  • Focus: Don’t cram too many locations or ideas into one shoot. It’s better to spend two hours getting one or two images right, than two hours rushing from shot to shot and getting lots of mediocre images.
  • Reminders: People can forget or not turn up. Send reminders to in the lead up.
  • Energy: Try to keep your photoshoots to a maximum of two hours. People’s energy and enthusiasm can flag. And their tiredness (or boredom) will show.
  • Refreshments: Suggest the models bring refreshments or provide some. In particular, provide water if it’s very warm in the location, or hot drinks if it’s cold.
  • Background spoilers: Keep a look out for items in the background which could accidentally spoil your scene. Are there messy poster on the walls? Check if anything appears to grow out of your subject’s head, such as lighting or trees.
  • Weather: If your photoshoot is outdoors, have a back-up plan. It’s Glasgow after all.
  • Adapt: Don’t be afraid to change your plans. Despite all of your planning, things can not work as you thought on the day. A location can be more crowded than expected, or a model isn’t as comfortable smiling to camera as you thought.
  • Fun: It’s a chance to be creative – enjoy!

Apply our photographic style