Showing up to a photo shoot unprepared is like going on a blind date and realizing after the meal (to your horror) that you forgot your wallet. Your ability to make the best first impression and take charge of your situation will determine whether or not your client calls you back for a second ‘date’. Or, third…fourth…well, you get it.


As all photographers quickly learn, things rarely, if ever, go exactly as planned on a shoot. So, being thoroughly prepared is the best way to confidently deal with unpredictable surprises and unexpected turns.


Inspired by an insane photography challenge that he accepted and completed, Benjamin Von Wong followed-up his first article with a second one where he offers 7 tips to succeed in an unplanned photo shoot and describes step-by-step his mental process in preparing for a photo shoot.

One of Von Wong’s tips that I especially liked talked about how to multitask effectively. It’s true that there are so many details photographers must think of during a shoot – lighting, concept, pose, style, etc. – and when one detail changes, it creates a domino effect of changes in the other elements, as well. As I am quite the visual learner, I got inspired to create my own flowcharts as a mental checklist to help me in future shoots.

On a last note, I was also reminded that above all, be confident…or at least, fake it ’til you make it. As the photographer, it can sometimes be a daunting responsibility to lead your crew through the difficulties and keep team morale high. However, it is also a wonderful opportunity to rise up to the challenge and call out the best in everyone involved (including yourself!) on the project.

Photographer: Jo Gorsky

So, the next time you get the nervous jitters and all hell breaks loose, take a deep breath and remember that you’re totally prepared and you’ve got your mental check lists and backup plan B, and C, and D, and…just go with the flow. Also, be sure to read Benjamin Von Wong’s article on 7 Tips to Succeed in an Unplanned Shoot.