5 Things Not to Do on Your Next Photoshoot

5 Things Not To Do on a Photoshoot - Quartz & Leisure

Ok, I am going to start off by saying the photoshoot for these pictures did not go exactly as planned. And that’s putting it lightly. And since it did not go exactly as planned, the quality of the photos suffered (again, putting it lightly).

The original plan was to shoot this look in SoHo and get there early, around 8am on a Saturday. Well, due to some unforseen circumstances, we didn’t end up getting there until after NOON. Yes, that’s over 4 hours later. #dontask

I usually try to avoid doing photoshoots on the weekend, but sometimes you have schedule conflicts (aka your other job) that prevent you from shooting during the week.

It also happened to be the warmest day of the year so far, a cool 93 ° degrees. So, it was sweltering.

And if you know anything about SoHo, the streets are anything but empty at 12pm on a Saturday afternoon…it’s pretty much the exact opposite.

So, the streets were packed with people, the traffic was horrendous, it was sweltering hot, my makeup had melted off, my hair was flat yet frizzy, and the sun was blaring straight on creating the most unsightly shadows on my face. Not to mention I’m pretty sure the camera settings were all wrong here. Oh, and I had a pounding migrane.

Also, please take notice of all the trash on the ground around my feet! We were so frazzled by this point and wanted to get the shots done, that I don’t think I even saw it there. But it’s seriously hysterical to have an eaten apple rind (or whatever that thing is?!) next to your foot in a picture. Haha. I’m sure Superga will appreciate that one. #NOTonbrand

What Not To Do on a Photoshoot - Quartz & Leisure

All in all, it was a clusterf*ck nightmare for a blogger and a photoshoot.

But, the photos had to be done, and you gotta do what you gotta do. This was the least crowded street in the area we could find. It unfortunately was not in the shade so we tried all different angles to get the best un-shadowed shots.

I was going to scrap these altogether and redo the shoot, but then I said to myself:

“There is a lesson here. A lesson that can help people and teach them what NOT to do during a photoshoot.”

So, with the help of Lightroom I managed to somewhat salvage what I could and make a few of them look decently presentable. (You may be saying to yourself, “I don’t see anything wrong with them.” And while they aren’t completely terrible right now, these photos were salvaged after hours of editing, bringing up the shadows, decreasing the exposure, etc. in Lightroom. Which is wayyy too much time to be spending on editing!)

The only upside of the day was this adorable wrap dress that I’m wearing from www.tobi.com. It was actually the perfect thing to be wearing on a hot day because the fabric was breezy and actually kept my body cool. Right now Tobi.com is having a sale and the entire site is 50% off, so if you like this dress, hurry on over!

And I can’t forget about these super cool Superga high top sneakers. I am not normally a sneaker kinda gal, but I seriously fell in love with these. They give such an IDGAF vibe to any look, and I love the fact that you can leave the sides unzipped, obviously adding to the IDGAF factor.

So, yeah, now I’m a sneaker convert. One more thing I need to add to my ever expanding closet.

Ok so, back to the photos and what NOT to do on a photoshoot:

Do Not Shoot Shadows

The sun, shadows, and lighting play a huge part in making a successful photo. Please do not go out at high noon and expect to get great pictures because when the sun is directly overhead, this is virtually impossible. If you absolutely must shoot at this time, try to find a spot in the shade, which is ideal on a sunny day to get professional-looking photos without shadows.

Do Not Have Bad Timing

The time of day also plays into getting a decent shot. You should try and aim for early morning before the sun has fully reached it’s peak, OR that time right before sunset, which is what photographers like to call “Magic Hour.” These are the ideal times for photoshoots and when the lighting is best and most even.

What Not To Do When Taking Blog Pics - Quartz & Leisure

Do Not Shoot the People

When at all possible, try and avoid having pedestrians or other objects in the backgrounds of your photos. This can include people, cars, traffic, etc. These all just create distractions that take away from the beautiful shot you’re trying to showcase.

However, if you wish to work within the natural settings, this post is a perfect example of a photoshoot without any background distractions cluttering your vision.

Obviously, at some times this is unpreventable, but another trick is to try and position yourself with a large space between your body and the closest building or structure. For example, instead of shooting the picture straight on while standing with your back against a building, why not step into the sidewalk, turn 90 ° and shoot it the long way down the street. The addition of space behind you will add to the nice blurry background that we’ll hopefully be creating with the next tip.

Do Not Use the Wrong Camera Settings

Ok, I am definitely not a professional photographer, but in order to get a nice clear photo with a blurred background, I do know that you need to have the camera on certain settings. I like to shoot with an aperture of 2.8-3.5 and a shutter speed of 1/200 or above. This will ensure a clear focus on the main image (aka YOU), while still blurring the background. (I am pretty sure these were shot with an aperture of 5.0-6.5 which is why the background isn’t as blurry as it could be.)

Sometimes I will also decrease the exposure a notch if I feel the whites are being overexposed and are too bright.

Do Not Rush

We were so impatient and completely over it by the time we actually got to shoot these pictures, we didn’t take the proper time to “prep” the location.

I’m not talking anything major, but brushing the trash out of the way would’ve been a good start! (aka: the apple rind near the fire hydrant and that crumpled up envelope next to my foot in the above picture, WTF people).

Also, be aware of your surroundings, such as the flow of traffic, which can greatly increase your chances of getting a good photo. If the light is red for a good 2 minutes, use that opportunity to get a clear shot with no background distractions.

Ok, that’s all my advice on what not to do on a photoshoot. I promise, for the next shoot I’ll get there on time, have lots of patience and do much better for you guys so you can enjoy a higher caliber of pictures (and not have to subject your eyes to any more garbage. Literally.)

If you enjoyed this post, or if you even got one laugh out of my unfortunate mishap, why don’t you sign up for my newsletter? I promise I won’t bombard you with multiple daily emails (only about 1-2x a month).

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What Not To Do on a Photoshoot - Quartz & Leisure

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    1. Glad you found it helpful, Brianna! And yes, un-shadowed shots are best!

    2. Thanks, Briana! Yes, try to avoid getting shadows on your face. If it’s really sunny outside shoot in the shade!

  1. Love these tips! I’ve been guilty of shooting mid day before and it is such a struggle. I have had to toss entire photo shoots out! Glad you decided to keep your and post about the struggles!

    1. Thanks, Courtney! I knew someone would appreciate the struggle, ha!

    1. Thanks, Ashley! Yes, SoHo is amazing with so many great buildings, but next time I’m NOT going to plan the shoot for a weekend! LOL

  2. Omg it’s like you described me here. I only shoot photos in the weekend cause that’s the only time I can get someone to help me with. And theoretically I aim to do it very early in the morning so there are not tons of people staring at me but many times it happen to me also, that we got there too late, the sun was too powerful, settings were wrong and not checked and so on.. It can get very frustrating since you stay there for good time hoping you have the right pictures but I guess that’s the fun in blogging hahah


    1. Yes, that is the “fun” alright! Haha. Glad you understand the struggle of getting the best shots!

  3. I’m a photographer and these are so true!! I always try to have my clients stand in the shade so they don’t have weird shadows on their faces, and they’re always confused why I don’t want to shoot in direct sunlight.

    1. Hi Julia! It’s so great to hear the perspective of a professional photographer. What do you think about the settings I mentioned, do you think those are the ideal settings for a clear shot? Would love to hear your feedback! 🙂

  4. Great tips! The do not rush tip is something I need to keep in mind. I’m always on the go 😉

    1. It’s such a struggle to get everything done, I always feel like I’m in a rush too. But thanks for reading, Taryn!

    1. Thanks so much, Cara!

  5. I know the shoot didn’t turn out the way you wanted, but that’s a fabulous dress and you look great!

    1. Thanks so much, Lynn!

  6. So sorry your photo shoot didn’t go as plan! You still look great.

    1. Thanks for reading, Kuleigh!

  7. This was actually so relatable. I gave photo shoots where I think it’s okay and then in editing I’m so disappointed and feel so discourage I want to give up. These tips were so great and I hope your next ones are up to your standard even though these were still quite good.

    1. Thanks Jackie! I tried to be relatable because I’m pretty sure every fashion blogger goes through this from time to time. But don’t give up! Just come back here, read this post, and know you’re definitely not alone! 🙂

  8. Shooting in full sun is the WORST. There’s almost nothing you can do to make it work! Creative use of reflectors help, but it’s so tough.

    1. Yes, so true! Glad you understand the struggle! 🙂

  9. these are great tips! I don’t think the pictures suffered too much from the circumstances. I definitely wouldn’t want t be in NYC when its that hot out though! Sounds like a nightmare

    1. So glad you liked the tips, Kaitlynn!

  10. These are really good tips! You look great, but I’m sorry it didn’t go as planned. Sometimes, life happens…

    1. Thanks, Logan! Yes, sometimes you just gotta roll with it…

    1. Thank you, Merel! 🙂

  11. This was such a great “real blogger life” post! I swear I’ve had all of these photo shoot issues before. Thanks so much for sharing your tips, loved the realness of this post!

    1. Aw thanks Brittany! I tried to keep it as real as possible, especially leaving that trash in there, haha.

    1. Thanks, Lauren! I hope the tips helped! 🙂

  12. These are great tips! Especially about not shooting in shadows – no amount of editing can get rid of them!

    1. Glad you agree, Cameron! Shadows on the face are theee worst to edit!

  13. Thanks for the tips. I’m new to the blog game and haven’t even launched yet so this learning is great! I pinned your post!

    1. Awesome, Selina! Thanks for sharing the love! 🙂