4 Things to Include in a Photoshoot Timeline

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We're professional photographers, Mr + Mrs and Mom + Dad. We like to share insights into our industry and empower other photographers to build their biz.



Whenever we photograph a personal brand or a business, we always feel the responsibility to make sure we fulfill the confidence our clients have in us. In our career, confidence is an area we can proudly say we have grown significantly in! Our confidence has helped drive the growth of our business and given us the belief to take on any obstacle that comes our way.

Confidence wasn’t just something that happened overnight. We like to view confidence just like the muscles in our bodies – the more we use it in our everyday lives, the stronger it gets!

That’s why we put so much emphasis and work into our pre-production planning services. These services not only provide a well-structured plan, but they give us the confidence to know we are coming into each shoot prepared to be fully present for our clients. This allows us to deliver the confidence and trust our clients deserve in choosing us as their brand photographers. Unless a new client is already working with a marketing agency, any new client working with us to capture brand imagery needs to utilize our pre-production planning services. 

Our pre-production services include location sourcing, timeline creation, and shot list creation.

We are currently in our three week series of unpacking each one of our pre-production services and last week we talked about location sourcing. We highly suggest you take the time to check out Three Things to Look for in a Photoshoot Location on our blog. Our goal is to really unpack these three services to help you understand why we require them and give you an idea of what we look at when we put the planning elements together. With that, let’s dive into part two of the series!

This week we’re focusing on photo timelines and why they are so important for your brand photography shoot. As the photographers, we’re going to know the best flow for the day. With a photographer’s perspective, we will already know how to operate the shoot with the time of day and how to be the most efficient for our clients. For example, if some photos have to be taken outside, we are going to know how to structure those photos into the photo timeline in order to set up and get the best lighting for those photos, then still be able to capture any indoor pictures in a controlled lighting environment. 

We are also experienced in realistically knowing how long things will take throughout the photoshoot. To be pretty straightforward – some things will take longer than people think and some things go a lot faster than people think. Our experience in creating shoots of all kinds gives us the insight into how long different shoot elements will take to execute – so trust us on this one!

Lastly, having a photo timeline keeps everything on pace. The goal for everything we do is to provide variety for personal brands. Your personal brands can’t use 100 pictures in one outfit at one location! #amiright!? Once we grab the idea and message of the scene, we need to move on to the next idea. Creating a photo timeline helps us to force that variety to happen, and keeps us on track and accountable to meeting our clients expectations. The truth is that without a photo timeline, we can get lost in loving what we’re doing and end up running out of time!

Timeline Creation

One of the most difficult parts of planning a brand photography shoot, or any type of photoshoot, is creating a timeline! The timeline is a fundamental part of planning your photoshoot that ensures the day stays on schedule and every important element of the session is captured for the client. Once the shoot begins, it is so easy to get lost in creativity and let the excitement of experimenting pull away from making sure we provide a variety of photos for brands that work with us. We want our clients to not only feel their best during the photoshoot, but also receive every piece of content they are hoping for.

The secret for us is sticking to the photo timeline we spend time planning out before the shoot. There are multiple components that go into creating a photo timeline, and we want to share 4 Important Things to Include in your Photo Timeline. These are all things that can be easily overlooked, but have the ability to cause so much clutter and chaos if they are not planned for.  

Outfit Changes

We can’t stress enough how important it is to create variety in your brand photography sessions. If you have read our blog on How to Plan a Successful Branding Photoshoot, you’ll understand that planning for variety is an essential part of your shoot. Although, keep in mind transitions involving creating variety in the shoot can take up a good amount of time! When creating our photo timeline, we do our best to plan for and include our client’s outfit changes at each location in our shoot time. Outfit changes can have a wide range of length time depending on the difficulty of the wardrobe change and the speed and efficiency of your client. As a rule of thumb, we always suggest allowing at least 5 minutes for an outfit change, and more if makeup or hair changes are needed. 

Styling Time

The majority of the brands and businesses we work with also promote a product or elements associated with their brand which need to be photographed and captured in an engaging way! In order to create variety, we have to make sure we allow time for styling. Creativity is important when it comes to styling, but the biggest key for captivating and detailed styling is– time! Even a simple and basic lay or style piece can take up at least 10 minutes plus, so make sure to account styling into your photo timeline. Allow yourself time to really let the creative mind take over! Even with two of us on shoots, we always add in time for styling.

Travel Time

Some shoots will take place in one location, while other shoots you will need to plan for multiple locations. Utilizing multiple locations falls under an important word we like to use a lot (drum roll, please)….variety! While planning, one of our main goals is to choose locations that are in close proximity. Yes, it is easier on the client, but this also makes sure our session time is not eaten up due to traveling to each location.

Regardless of where your locations are, including time for travel is a must. This can sometimes be easy to forget, but if forgotten can easily destroy plans and the effectiveness of the client shoot. Even if the locations are close in proximity, make sure to plan more time than you think. In our experience, even a simple 5 minute drive turns into 10 minutes by the time everyone arrives, unloads, and is ready to go, so be generous on the amount of time given to yourself because it’s always better than not having enough time.

Lunch / Snack Break

This is an important one because to most people, this is the first thing to go in an attempt to save on time. The truth is we all need a break once in a while and we all need to eat. Shoots can be very lengthy and in order to keep putting the best foot forward for clients, a break may be necessary to keep everyone’s energy levels up. Creativity doesn’t just happen without nourishing the body and allowing time to gather. Sometimes a light snack will be sufficient, but other times an actual lunch break is needed to regroup and finish the day off strong! Based on the length of the session, we determine what will be the best for our clients and us for the most productive and efficient shoot. This is a must to include in the photo timeline because being “hangry” can be well….no bueno!!

And just like that, those are our best steps for creating a photo timeline! Which one is your favorite? Was there one you may have not used or possibly missed in the past? We want to hear from you in the comments below! 

Stay tuned with us through the series next week! We will jump into the why and how of putting together a killer shot list for your next shoot!

Comments +

  1. […] the last two weeks we have unpacked two of our pre-production services, location sourcing and timeline creation. This week we will cover the last part of the three week series – the all important Shot […]

  2. […] to match the brand and where lighting will be best, while also helping in creating a shot list and timeline for the shoot. All of these pre-production services are in place to accomplish the goal of ensuring […]

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