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Photography planning Checklist

How many times have you got halfway through a marketing project and thought, “I wish I had taken a shot from that angle”? Photo sets easily become chaotic, and without careful planning, time and money can slip away from the creative team.

We use checklists to keep our photo shoots running smoothly and to maximize our client budgets. We keep them top of mind in most project meetings, so we often have running lists of specific shots we’d like to add to a brand’s asset library. Many times we are able to pool funds from multiple campaigns to finance a large-scale location shoot.

The key to a successful photo shoot is advance preparation. Page 3 of this worksheet covers your overall shoot, and should be a summary of all the individual shots. Pages 4 and 5 are checklists for each shoot. Use them to plan your shots, and also on the day of the shoot to make sure you capture everything you need before breaking set and moving to the next image.


These shots are typically more dramatic and attention-getting images. Your brand should have a persona or messaging guide that directs the style and environment you use for cover photos. Cover shots can be brochure covers, but could also be packaging fronts (think food products with “suggested serving” images).


These shots are informative images of your product for use in catalogs, brochures, instruction manuals, and your web site. While most catalogs use straight-on product shots, you should maximize your shoot day by capturing more than one angle. Include all four sides, or include top and bottom for 6 side views (like Zappos!).


These images should show your product in-use. For consumer goods, usually there is a model using the product. For food products, an application shot may be a prepared recipe.


Photo shoots that take place outside a studio require lots of extra planning. We don’t recommend trying to schedule your photographer to shoot both studio and location shots in one day... there is too much efficiency lost in moving equipment and setting up lighting.

Feel free to print as many copies of this tool as you need. We are happy to share this with you, because good photography resources make our marketing job go so much easier. If you already have a photography plan in place, then these checklists may serve as an extra organizing tool.