As a beginner photographer, it is expected that you’d be grasping for straws when it comes to photoshoots. Where do you even start? Imagining the cost, logistics, people you need to hire, location, availability of models or subjects and a lot more details you need to consider are already giving you anxiety. Hold on. Breathe. Think for a moment. Do you really need all of this stuff?
Be honest. Most of them, not at all. You have to remember you are a beginner photographer on your first photoshoots. You are mostly being hired by a relative or friend. I doubt you are charging them a top dollar or being paid at all. So no need to be stressed.
Your first photoshoot ideas must be simple, easy to set-up and cost-effective (no cost on your part is preferable). But you need to have creative photoshoots to attract more customers other than family. The first reason is that you will get paid for your efforts. And secondly, this could turn into a legitimate business.
But your creativity must not be limited by the camera and gear that you have. After all, they are just tools to make your life easier. You are the one creating the image. You dictate what should and shouldn’t be in the photo. The photo composition reflects your innermost thoughts. You are giving out your message.
To help you out on your first photoshoots, try some of the ideas below. Most of them will not cost you much, which is great. They are also easy to follow. You can also improve some of the techniques as you grow in your photography skills.
11 Creative Photoshoot Ideas for Beginners
A. Create a story with your photos
Literally like the adage says, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, your photo doesn’t just show a moment captured in time. But it can and should show a compelling narrative of your subjects or background. Your image conveys meaning.
A good example of these are photos taken by photojournalists. Get a copy of the morning newspaper and look through the pictures. See how a single picture on the front page captures the whole essence of the headline. It delivers the tone, perspective and gravity of the situation.
In order to captivate your audience, draw them in through the stories in your photograph. To achieve this, include the little details. If you are shooting a portrait, include items that pertain to your subject. You can have a bookcase as a background if he/she loves to read. Close-up photos of paint-stained hands if he/she is a painter. Wide-angle portrait of them surrounded by the things they love to collect. The ideas are endless.
One of the photography tips worth knowing is to flip through coffee table books or picture books to serve as great inspirations for you.
B. Take pictures from different angles and perspectives
You need to take pictures from different angles and perspectives to create a sense of depth. This is for your audience to understand the scene in your photos and be able to judge distances. These help your audience feel that they are sharing the moment with you when you captured the image. They can imagine that they are actually there at that moment.
Different perspectives and angles can also show beautiful and fascinating pictures. Your subjects can appear smaller or larger than usual. Leading lines would be great to use. And, you’ll be able to see intriguing perspectives that can add more draw to your photos.
Try taking pictures of your subject when you’re in a standing position, sitting down or even lying down on the ground. Which looks great? How about taking their photo through an object like a fence? Make use of mirrors and reflections? Experiment and see what you can come up with.
C. Experiment with light and shadow
You need the right balance between light and shadow to make a great photo.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that it needs to be of equal intensity all the time. But, more of creating a visual equilibrium that heightens the “drama” in the photo. It adds a more in-depth element that would certainly catch your audience’s attention.
You can use these two elements to add mystery. You can choose to let your audience see only parts of your subject like the face, one of the arms etc., and leave everything in the picture in the dark. This effectively communicates more dramatic moods.
D. Use props to add some extra flair to your shots
A standard photo can still be good but could appear flat or uninteresting. Unless the photo is to be used for your passport or other legal documents, adding a few elements could liven it up.
As discussed before, adding a few things to the photo with your subject would tell a better story than a stark one. A few trinkets and odd things could make the photo more intriguing and would make your subject more appealing.
Turning everyday items into props is one of the photography ideas that I am really on board with. Curtains can be used as clothes, books, and magazines as a backdrop, different colored glasses as filters, the list is endless. You only have to use your creativity.
And if you have a bigger budget for production, have props like furniture, large-scale toys and custom-made props. This would definitely give your photos the added flair.
And if you don’t have the budget, one of the photography tips I found helpful is to ask friends or family to borrow things that you could use for props. Just remember to return them clean and without damage.
E. Capture the moment instead of poses
Photos are also called stills, but this doesn’t mean that your subject will need to hold poses all the time.
Be interactive. Have your subject move. Let them walk, talk and change positions. There is the naturalness of capturing a moment. The subject’s body is not so stiff and carefully placed. If the photo is staged too much, it will be too artificial looking and might lose relatability to your audience.
Poses are sometimes harder because all elements need to be in standstill to be captured. With the technology of modern cameras, there is no need to hold a certain pose for a significant amount of time to be able to capture it. We are also no longer limited to a few rolls of film.
Nowadays, there is a burst mode for rapid-fire shooting in cameras. You can capture tens of pictures in a second. This allows you to choose the best photo and not be constricted by time.
F. Incorporate nature in your photos
Nature gives the best color, the best light and the best props.
You don’t need a photo studio or an expensive production to achieve great photos. Have your photoshoot outside. Not only would you save a lot of money, you’ll also have unlimited places to choose from.Just be mindful of the weather conditions and regulations of your shooting in a public place.
One of the best photoshoot ideas I’ve seen is having it done in a clear field of tall grasses with the gentle wind blowing. Have it on a clear day. You might still need to use filters for your camera and maybe some light diffusers. But the outcome will be fantastic.
Also, add to your photography ideas to take photos focusing on one color like the field to create visual consistency.
G. Try silhouettes
To add to your photoshoot ideas, take silhouettes.
It makes a powerful visual of a black powerful shape on a vivid background. It evokes romanticism in the movement of your subject or accentuates their action. There is no distraction from the details of your subject rendering them nameless or incognito. The message or the story is not the subject but what they represent.
Create the effect by placing a light source behind your subject with little to no light in front of your subject. Make your subject wear tight-fitting clothes. Manually focus the camera on your subject. The aperture must be as small as possible to make the image sharper. The crispier the silhouette is the most powerful the visual will be.
You can also use editing software. Use a background remover to edit out the original background and change it for a more impactful background.
H. Shoot macro images
One of the reasons why photography is popular is because it offers a multitude of perspectives on a wide variety of subjects. You can find new meanings about a subject by looking at it from a different angle or view.
Macro Photography allows the audience to see photos of small things up close that can open up new worlds for them. We often take for granted things that are left unnoticed. Little things like insects, pollen, a drop of water or the lines on your hardwood floors.
The intricate details that we couldn’t see before will be laid before our eyes with the use of technology. Macro lenses and other gears are relatively affordable. Cameras nowadays offer greater magnification with their lenses and sensor.
I. Get creative with colors
At this point in your photography journey, you must realize that colors play a great role in your photos. It adds life and vibrancy to your photos. It creates a mood and tone. It is also one of the most important things you have to consider in your composition.
Do not be limited by the usual colors that are frequently used by other photographers. Stand out and use bold color combinations. See how the color combinations affect your composition. Use colors to emphasize and heighten certain elements. It will draw the audience’s eyes to your work.
J. Play around with reflections
Another one to add to your photoshoot ideas is to add reflections to your photos.
This effect is more of an abstract and artistic take for your photography. It is also called mirror photography. You take a photo of an image that has a reflective surface that is the “mirror image” of the surrounding scenery. The reflective surfaces are usually bodies of water like a lake, a puddle or a raindrop. But other reflective surfaces like windows, tiles and metal could be used.
This effect is often found in landscape photography. Great mountain landscapes look unbelievable when they cast a reflection on a lake or a big body of water.
Street photography also likes reflections. It conveys the duality of a subject and offers introspection on life and other things.
K. Take advantage of symmetry
Symmetry is important in photography. Parts of your composition must mirror other parts. There is a need for equal weight or value on each side. This makes your photos balanced and therefore more pleasing to the eyes. There is cohesion and structure in your composition. There is a sense of order. Our brains like symmetrical objects, so we usually associate them with beauty.
In your photo shoot ideas, always consider making your subject stand in the middle of a photo. This is the best way to have symmetry in your photos.
You can also use leading lines or edges as a guide in your composition. This is a great practice as it makes you unconsciously balance out the image by using the lines.
The photoshoot ideas previously discussed are all about composition, lighting, tone, mood and logistics. All of these you need to learn and master to be able to improve your skills. The love for the art of photography is all well and good. The passion is what drives you to learn more about the art. But you have to keep in mind that there is still hard work and a lot of time and effort to be considered.
When it comes to creativity, again, do not be limited by your camera gear. They do not make you more creative compared to others. At most, these gears could even hinder you. There is a learning curve to be able to effectively use this gear. And, that time could be instead used in actively taking photos and working on your composition.
Improve your skills by being inspired by other photographers. Study their techniques and understand their process. What do they see when they take a photo? Incorporate these in your process and see what fits you. I would emphasize that you should not copy other photographers. Be inspired by their work and learn from them.
Try the photoshoot ideas we have discussed. They are easy enough to follow and the preparations are not very complicated. You can have them as your springboard of sorts and fine-tune them to your specification. Then, you can move forward and produce your own photo shoot with the ideas you’d come up with.
Photography is all about offering your audience a perspective different from their own. Your photos are your interpretation of the world that you see. So offer them a glimpse and see how their worldview changes.