One thing that photography hobbyists tend to do better than professional photographers is make time to shoot for themselves. It makes sense why that is, given that pros typically focus all their energy on creating imagery for clients, but photographers of all levels can benefit from setting aside some time to practice new techniques in a low-pressure, “work-free” environment. For those tied to a particular niche, it can also prove helpful to step outside of your comfort zone and take on subjects that you might not otherwise photograph. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of ideas for photo session practice that you can run through in a relaxed setting (most can be done at home), trying new techniques that you can potentially use on paid sessions.

1. Selfie Ideas for Photo Session

We mentioned that a lot of these exercises are meant for you to shoot for yourself, so why not start with a selfie. Selfies have become ubiquitous in modern culture, and we often take them for granted. However, selfies can also serve as a powerful form of self-expression. Also, it helps to get on the other side of the camera once in a while to remind yourself what it’s like to play the role of the subject.

selfie ideas for photo session

It’s important to note that you can go beyond the standard selfie and actually create high-quality self-portraits. Take time to explore different angles, lighting, and compositions to create self-portraits that reflect your personality and style. Experiment with props, backgrounds, and facial expressions to convey different moods and emotions.

Feel free to use your smartphone camera for this exercise, or give your pro camera a go. A number of newer cameras can link to phones via dedicated apps (like this one for Canon shooters) that you can use to check your composition and even trigger the shot remotely, turning the selfie into more of a traditional self-portrait. Whatever you use, focus more on the shot and worry less about what you use to capture.

Check out these other fun selfie poses and ideas for more inspiration.

2. Headshots with Friends and Family

ideas for photo session headshots smiling

One of the best parts about sharing a living space with others is being able to use them to try new photography techniques, right? Now, it’s time to gather your friends or family members for a headshot session. If you live alone, hopefully you’ve made friends with some neighbors.

ideas for photo session headshots

Like before, experiment with poses, compositions, locations, and even lighting setups to create dynamic headshot portraits. One of the added benefits of practicing headshots with those you know is you probably know how to loosen them up and get authentic smiles. If you’re still struggling there, don’t miss these tips on how to get subjects to smile without saying “cheese.”

3. Pet Photography

pet photography dog from holly roa

If you own a pet, then you’re probably no stranger to capturing photos of your furry family member. The challenge here, however, is to elevate your pet photos a notch and capture those playful romps in the park or cozy cuddles (or play fights) at home in pro-quality portraits. So long as you stay relaxed and try to make it fun, it will probably prove easier than you think to get great pet photos, even if that requires the use of bribes.

dog walking

It might not seem obvious up front how photographing your pets will find a way into your professional work, but pro pet photographers aren’t the only ones capturing pet imagery. Because pet ownership is pretty universal, clients from a number of genres will bring pets into their sessions, whether it’s for a family session, an engagement shoot, or even a wedding.

4. Ideas for Photo Session: Fun Kid Photos

3 examples of fun kid photos

For those of you with children, or access to nieces, nephews, or even friends’ kids, this exercise can be fun. Children are natural explorers, adventurers, and dreamers, and capturing their joy can lead to some truly magical moments. Don’t be afraid to get down on their level, engage with their world, and let their boundless energy inspire your creativity. Follow these steps and throw some fun kids photoshoot ideas, and you’ll likely need to make space on the wall to hang the images you capture together.

5. Documenting Daily Activities

ideas for photo session with family cooking

Everyday activities can offer a treasure trove of photographic inspiration. Whether it’s cooking a meal, gardening in the backyard, or embarking on a weekend hike, document the moments that make up your daily life with a photo session that celebrates the beauty of the mundane. Focus on the details—the hands slicing vegetables, the dirt under fingernails, the sweat glistening on foreheads—and capture the rituals and rhythms that define your day-to-day existence. In the images above, you can see how bringing the family together for a pizza-making session turned into a fun story full of candid moments that make for great wall art clusters or album spreads.

6. A Full Day in the Life

This exercise takes the previous idea up a step, from documenting a single activity to tracking a full day’s events. Documenting a day in your life can help you find ways to make ordinary activities look extraordinary, or at least find beauty in the mundane. From sunrise to sunset, capture the moments, big and small, that make up a typical day in your life. Whether it’s sipping coffee in the morning, commuting to work, or unwinding with a book before bed, embrace the “daily routine” and capture the everyday moments that often go unnoticed.

7. Food Photography

rare cooked steak for food photography

In addition to offering a platform for people to connect, social media has provided a means for people to share photos of their food, which they do relentlessly. The problem is, most of the shots aren’t very good. Try your hand at food photography and experiment with lighting, composition, and styling to create mouth-watering images that tantalize the senses and evoke the flavors and textures of your favorite dishes. Check out this roundup of food photography tips we put together for more ideas on how to capture your culinary creations.

8. Car Portraits

Cars are more than just modes of transportation; they’re symbols of freedom, style, and personal identity. Transform your car into a stylish backdrop for a photo session. It doesn’t matter if you don’t own a classic vintage car, a sleek modern ride, or one that barely runs. Depending on your perspective, viewers might not even recognize which type of car you’re photographing. Try to shoot from different angles and capture the sleek lines, dynamic curves, and unique features of your vehicle. You won’t need any special equipment for this session either, just a car and a willing model (again, friends and family make great go-to’s). Check out the video above for more ideas for photo session success.

9. Ideas for Photo Session: Street Photography

street photograph composition
Photo by Felix Irawan

Like the hills, the streets are alive with the sound of…unique photography opportunities. Embrace the spontaneity of urban life with a street photography session. Whether you’re exploring bustling marketplaces, lively street corners, or quiet alleyways, keep your eyes open for fleeting moments, interesting characters, and unexpected scenes.

urban couples engagement photography

In the event that you happen to have a friend or two to take along, turn your street photography session into more of an urban portrait session to work on new creative portrait techniques.

10. Still Life

still life ideas for photo session
Photo of Still Life by Garreth Paul (via Unsplash)

Still life photography offers a unique opportunity to explore composition, lighting, and storytelling in a controlled environment. Arrange objects—whether it’s fruits and flowers, vintage trinkets, or household items—in interesting compositions. Lighting will definitely play a crucial role in making a simple still life setup more dynamic, so it’ll be in your best interest to explore different lighting setups as well, including natural light, studio lighting, or even candlelight to create atmosphere. You might also experiment with different editing techniques in post to give the still life images yet another look.

11. Close-ups with Macro Photography

macro closeup ideas for photo session

Sometimes, a tight crop can drastically change the look of a photo, even redefining the story that the photo tells. This concept goes even further when you “crop” in-camera and move in for closeups. No closeups are closer than those you get with Macro photography. This genre, if you will, allows us to explore the intricate details and textures of small objects up close, revealing a world of beauty and complexity that often goes unnoticed.

12. Storytelling

storytelling angles

Challenge yourself to capture an object or scene using different storytelling techniques. Start with a variety of angles (wide, medium, and tight) to establish your scene, introduce the subjects, and then give a detailed view of the subjects. This is a proven formula used in most television shows and movies, and it works especially well for portrait sessions. In addition to changing the field of view, move around the scene and highlight different perspectives. You can also employ other storytelling techniques like working with light direction and color to make your collection of images more impactful.

13. Time-Lapse Photography

Time-lapse photography allows you to capture the passage of time in a single image, revealing subtle changes and transformations that unfold over minutes, hours, or even days. Set up your camera in a fixed position and capture a series of images at regular intervals, then combine them into a seamless time-lapse sequence using editing software, or just put together a collage of particular moments that show the change unfolding. Whether it’s the changing colors of a sunrise, the movement of clouds across the sky, or the bustling activity of a city street, time-lapse photography offers a mesmerizing glimpse into the dynamic and ever-changing world around us.

14. Fashion Photography

fashion model posing

Whether or not you want to break into fashion photography, it’s a great genre to study for portraiture in general. For example, wedding photographers often focus on particular aspects of the bride and groom’s attire, from the dress to the shoes. A lot of thought and money go into such wardrobe choices, and it’s important to capture them well. Fashion photography is about more than just capturing clothing, however.

Like other genres included in this list of ideas for photo session success, fashion photos tell stories, evoke emotions, and celebrate personal style and expression. Whether you’re working with professional models, friends, or even just yourself, experiment with different poses, expressions, and styling to create dynamic fashion portraits that showcase the model as well as the clothes or accessories he or she is wearing.

Don’t miss these fashion photography tips you’d use on actual fashion campaigns to help guide your session.

15. Ideas for Photo Session: One-Lens Challenge

one lens challenge examples

Challenge yourself to shoot an entire photo session using only one lens, forcing yourself to think creatively and make the most of limited resources. We’ve done a number of these one-lens challenges using different focal lengths for every challenge, and each session yielded incredible results. Whether it’s a wide-angle lens, a telephoto lens, or a macro lens, embrace the constraints and explore the creative possibilities that come with using a single focal length. Experiment with different compositions, perspectives, and techniques to create images that are both visually striking and technically impressive.

16. Reflections

ideas for photo session selfie reflection

Reflections can add depth, symmetry, and visual interest to your images, creating stunning compositions that play with light, color, and texture. Whether it’s puddle, a polished surface, or a glass window, experiment with reflective surfaces to create captivating images that challenge the viewer’s perception and perspective.

puddle reflection ideas for photo session

Check out this creative photography video to see Pye Jirsa use reflections (see the images above) and other techniques to create stunning portraits in a crappy parking lot.

17. Natural Light Photography (Soft)

Natural light is a versatile and beautiful light source that can create soft, flattering portraits with a natural and organic feel. You can use something as simple as natural light and a 5-in-1 reflector to create stunning, or better yet flattering, results. Whether you’re shooting indoors near a window or outdoors on an overcast day, embrace the soft, diffused light to create images that are both timeless and elegant.

18. Natural Light Photography (Hard)

While soft natural light can create beautiful, flattering portraits, “hard” natural light can add drama, intensity, and contrast to your images. Whether you’re shooting outdoors on a sunny day or indoors under harsh artificial light, embrace the challenge of working with hard light to create bold and dynamic images that command attention.

19. Flash Photography

flash photography motorcycle portrait

Understanding flash photography is a must for any photographer, really, even those who consider themselves natural light photographers. Why limit yourself when the possibilities of what you can create grow exponentially with the use of flash? Understanding flash will allow you to control light in any environment. This holds true whether you’re shooting indoors in a studio or outdoors at night.

lighting patterns

To start, try using some basic flash techniques and modifiers and evaluate the results. You don’t need a model to master lighting patterns, and the insight you’ll gain from intentionally playing with light will help you bring your vision to life, even if that means using only natural light.

20. Ideas for Photo Session: Double Exposures

double exposure ideas for photo session
Photo by Boris Untereiner

Double exposures allow you to overlay multiple images to create surreal and dreamlike compositions that challenge the viewer’s perception and imagination. Whether you’re combining portraits with landscapes, or placing your subjects in new environments, experiment with blending techniques and layering effects to create images that are visually striking.

double exposure
Photo by Marlies Hartmann

You can create double exposures in-camera or combine images digitally during post-processing. Either way, double exposures offer endless opportunities for creative expression and experimentation.

21. Composite Photography

photo composite

Composite photography allows you to combine multiple images to create seamless and imaginative compositions that tell stories, evoke emotions, and challenge the viewer’s perception and imagination. Whether you’re blending different elements from the same scene or combining images from different sources, experiment with layering techniques and digital manipulation to create images that are both visually stunning and conceptually rich. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create the composite portrait above to kickstart your composite inspiration. .

22. Ideas for Photo Session: Silhouette Photography

sunset silhouette

Silhouette photography offers a striking and dramatic way to capture a subject by reducing it to its most basic and essential form. The main ingredient requires that your background be brighter than your subject. You can achieve this with natural light (sunsets work especially well) or flash photography.

ideas for photo session silhouette

In addition to dialing in a suitably dark ambient exposure and placing your subject in front of the brighter part of the image, you’ll want to focus on posing. It’s important to ensure that your subject’s shape is clearly defined and not lost in the background, or even in itself. For example, if you’re creating a silhouette with a person, separate the limbs from the body (lift the arms away from the side) by placing their hands on their hips, and so on. Doing so or not doing so can make or break your silhouette portrait.


We hope these 22 innovative ideas for photo session success open up new possibilities for creative expression in your photography. Whether you’re exploring new techniques, experimenting with different subjects, or pushing the boundaries of your creativity, embrace the journey of artistic discovery. Make time to shoot for yourself, grab your camera, and venture into uncharted territory. Taking on this challenge can help unlock your creativity and even take your paid work to a new level.