Photo Shoot Styling Basics: 4 Key Considerations

photo shoot
Image Credit : | Photo Shoot Styling Basics: 4 Key Considerations | Successful photo shoots yield exceptional results, but they don’t happen just because someone waved a magic wand or snapped a finger. 

Although there are a few rare instances when every aspect of an impromptu shoot falls into place, such can hardly be considered the norm. This is where photo shoot styling can make a difference.

As the name suggests, photo shoot styling entails planning the image you would like to capture before the actual shoot itself. For photography professionals, styling is both an art and a science. Moreover, as with all other sciences, it is crucial that you know the rules of photo styling so you can use them to your advantage.

In this article, you will learn about the four crucial considerations in styling a photo shoot to achieve the expected outcome.

4 Key Considerations in Photo Shoot Styling

Whether you’re doing a portrait, formal or informal, outdoor or indoor, and styled or casual shoot, it is important that you know the primary considerations that are vital to your success.

  • Theme and Color Scheme

Choosing a theme for a photo shoot is much like creating an outline for a novel: you have to know what story you would like to tell.

Do you want to showcase your subjects in a vintage light? Or are you after a more contemporary aesthetic? Deciding on the theme of the shoot will help outline what you need for the photo session – from the location and equipment to the props and costumes.

After that, the next thing you need to think about is the color scheme. Color is a key element in photo shoots because it will define the mood of a portrait or scene you want to capture. Because of this, combining the right colors is crucial to get the vibe you would like your output to exude.

For example, if you’re doing a winter photo shoot, adding touches of grey, blue, and cool white tones should do the trick. From there, you may also add a pop of a distinct color that will stand out from the rest.

Spring shoots, on the other hand, call for a mix of pastel hues dominated by greenery while summer should be bursting with warm light and saturation. Meanwhile, a fall themed shoot should have verdant greens, burnt oranges, deep reds, and purple tones.

Another useful technique in choosing a color scheme is color blocking. This nifty trick entails taking two colors from two ends of the color wheel and combining them for a classic high-contrast effect.

  • Location

Deciding on a location before the shoot is essential because it dictates the type of equipment you’ll need. Since the quality of light and your distance from the subject will be affected by your surroundings, you need to adjust in order to get that perfect shot.

If you’re doing a studio shoot, you need lenses that are appropriate for the job. For small studios, 50mm or 35mm lens and studio lighting should be used to achieve a beautiful portrait composition.

For bigger indoor settings (not a photography studio), you should still take advantage of available natural light during the day. To do this, you must time the shoot at just the right moment to achieve the ideal ambiance. You may also need reflectors to create different effects for your photographs.

  • Backdrop

Another crucial consideration in styling a photo shoot is the backdrop. Some indoor backgrounds that work great in pictures are windows, walls, and any other aesthetically pleasing areas.

If you’re doing the shoot at home or a setting other than inside a photography studio, you should plan where to direct your camera before the session proper. This is so that you won’t have to take too much time during the day of the shoot and waste precious natural light.

  • Costumes and Props

When choosing an outfit for a photo shoot, it is important that you think about the textures and how to layer them properly. Unless you’re doing a dance shoot, make sure that your subject isn’t drowning in layers of fabric.

To add dimension to your photo, choose from a variety of fabrics as listed below:

  • Heavy knits
  • Denim
  • Crochet
  • Leather
  • Lace
  • Tweed
  • Ruffles

By mixing up fabrics that reflect or absorb light, you can play with shadows and highlights in the photographs you take. This is particularly useful when taking black-and-white pictures that need to pop even with the absence of color.

Meanwhile, props are not a requisite for a successful photo shoot, but they can help elevate the quality of the image. To do so, you should make sure that your subjects use the props as tools rather than merely posing beside them. Accessories like hats and bags can also be used as props. Alternatively, if you rather get more professional shots taken with lesser prep work, consider engaging the services of experienced photographers on Photobooker.

Style Your Shoots

In order to learn about photography and master the basics, amateur photographers should understand the concept of photo shoot styling. Although the photographer’s main job is to take pictures, they can also ensure that the scenes they point their lenses at are worth capturing in still images.


Stefanie Descheemaecker is the Studio Manager at Stu Williamson Photography at The Palm Jumeirah – Fairmont Hotel in Dubai. She has been with the company for almost 3 years and is the driving force behind the success of the business. A keen amateur photographer, Stef combines her natural creative eye with a strong business acumen to help Stu Williamson Photography become the most trusted and successful photography business in the UAE.