7 Tips to Make Professional Photos Outdoor for Yourself (or "Our Behind the Scenes")
We all want to look great in every single photo, right?
But if you´re not one of those lucky people who look stunning even at 8 a.m. on Monday morning without coffee (and I am not one of those unfortunately), how can you achieve those Instagram worthy and professional looking photos?
Luckily, we live in the age where it is enough to have an iPhone and a friend (or even just a tripod) to do your own professional photoshoot outside.
Learn these simple tips to make your photoshoot successful from the first try!
At first I actually simply wanted to share with you our latest "behind the scenes“ story and show you what goes into the production of our wonderful new campaign.
But then I thought: why not share our experience and tips that you can use to make some profession looking photos for yourself?
So here it goes:
Tip#1: Location is The Key
Choose your location in advance. Think what mood you would like your photos to be and think of a location that fits such mood.
It does not have to be some grand far away location, remember that you just need a 3 x 3 m background for most of your photos.
Do you want to shoot somewhere romantic? The nearest park might have some pretty corners that would look great as a back ground, especially in summer time.
Would you like to show what a city girl you are? One of the cosy cafes definitely will have nice tables and those pretty window awnings.
In our case we went for one of the beautiful gardens on the Montjuic mountain in Barcelona with beautiful Mediterranean gardens and structures. These gardens are full of amazing spots and corners, we had a very hard time to choose.
Pro tip 1: If you want to cover more than one location in one day, you don´t have to waste your time checking out all the places by foot. You can simply use Google Maps Street View to walk the streets and then mark the route using Google Maps List function (on your phone).
Pro tip 2: Search and save the images of potential good backgrounds to a Pinterest board, so that you don´t waste your time on the day of the shoot.
Tip#2: Check the Weather Forecast
I cannot count how many times we had to pospone a photoshoot because of the weather. And here in Barcelona sun usually shines almost all year long!
So to avoid delays wasting your time and efforts in preparations, make sure you check the weather as close as possible to your planned shoot.
Take also into consideration how strong the wind will be on the day of your shoot. I can tell you by experience how hard it is to make a decent shot with the wind stronger than 8-10 m/s. Unless you want to shoot „Gone with the wind“ style, of course...
So for our latest campaign shoot we did not know till the last moment if we will be able to shoot or not, cause the weather forecast kept promising rain till the very last day. But coastal weather can change 5 times a day and so we were extremely lucky in the end and had gorgeous blue skyes all day long.
Pro tip: I have found that AccuWeather makes very decent predictions, but if you know of a good local service – check both (or more) to confirm your plans.
Tip#3: Choose the Right Time
Every professional photographer knows how important is lighting for the good photo. But more light than less does not always mean better.
What I mean is that more light can be as bad as too less light. So I suggest you avoid shooting during midday-early afternoon when the sun is high up.
Usually it is best to start shooting early morning when the sun is still low and the sunlight is not that direct. If you cannot shoot in the morning (or simply don´t want to wake up early, I´m totally on your side if its the case), you can start your shoot in the afternoon, few hours before the sunset.
The exact hours depend of course on the time of the year and your location, but you can try to make couple of test photos at different times to see what time is optimal for your photos.
We did various photoshoots at different times, early mornings and late afternoons. But to my mind, mornings are still better in terms of light, plus it gives you more room in terms of light hours.
So our last shoot we started already at 8 a.m. and we had an ideal lighting for all the shots!
Pro tip: early morning hours are also better for the shoot because less people are out on the streets, especially on weekends and holidays.
Tip#4: Plan Your Look(s)
For professional fashion photoshoots usually several changes of clothing (looks) are planned strategically for every location chosen. It is important to think it all through and plan in advance, so that you don´t lose precious time (of light and of your photographer) and make as many shots as you can for each look.
You don´t have to change your looks of course, but I suggest you still try changing accessories and cover-ups during your shoot – you will see that some combinations work better than others for the composition of the photo.
In our case we have quite a few look changes, but our excellent team worked so well together that we not only managed to shoot everything, but even finished ahead of time. So again, preparation is the key to succcess!
Tip#5: Accentuate Your Make-Up
Now I know, too strong make-up might look tasteless and vulgar. And I don´t mean that you need to do a cake-like make-up either.
But on the photos the features tend to disappear a bit, so for the photoshoot you should definitely do more than your usualy daily make-up routine. You can test different options, but the most important are the eyes – try to accentuate them more, choose darker eye shadows or add a liner, whatever works for you best.
Another very good thing to use is a highlighter on strategic spots (like cheekbones and nose bridge) – it will accentuate nicely your face by reflecting the light. Pair it with good contouring and you will look gorgeous from every angle!
For professional photoshoot like ours, it is important to count in the time for the make-up and hair styling. Usually it takes about an hour to prepare the model for the shoot and often several retouchings are needed throughout the shoot, especially after changes.
Pro tip: in case you have oily skin prone to shine (such as I do, for instance - welcome to the club!), make sure you take a pack of pocket tissues (or special blotting paper) with you and carefully blot your face every 10-15 minutes when shooting.
Tip#6: Choose The Right Composition and Angle
It might be an obvious tip, but you would be surprised how often it is overlooked: you should always try to be in the center of the final photo, it always looks best.
And if you want to make your photos for the social media – it is always better to make them close. Meaning that ideally you should occupy 50-70% of the photo composition.
I see many beautiful photos on Instagram, where the girl is running towards the sunset or something similar, but the girl is so tiny that on the phone its impossible to understand sometimes if it is a girl at all. Such pictures are just getting lost among all others.
Also, don´t forget to try different angles AND hights. Some shots would look better when done from above, for another your poor friend would need to almost lie on the ground.
For all our photoshoots we always try various distances and angles. Usually we do combination of various angles for each of the locations and changes. The last photoshoot was special, as we were shooting on the mountain – it provided a lot of variations, stairs and slopes to shoot on – simply a production paradise!
Pro tip: Try to make the first few shots from different angles and spots - you will quickly identify the most advantageous ones.
Tip#7: Make A LOT of Photos
This is maybe most important tip: don´t be shy making a lot of photos! And I mean A LOT!
Take it from someone who is not naturally photogenic at all – there is no shame in taking hundred(s) of photos to get that one great shot. It is shame to go through all the preparations and not to get any good photos at all.
Now, I know, this approach requires to have a very patient friend (which is best), but if you don´t have one available – you can just as well use a tripod with a bluetooth remote control (they are very cheap now). With a tripod you might even feel more free to make more photos – it will not judge you even after 500 tries on one spot!
Actually we make insane amount of photos for any of our professional photoshoots. Because we always want to make the maximum of all the preparation work and efforts of the whole team.
And I also have to say that even with professional photographers, models and make-up artists – there are good days and there are bad days. Sometimes we all need to warm up at the beginning and only then start getting the results that we need.
So don´t be discouraged if your shoot is not going like you wanted at the beginning. Just keep trying, changing angles, poses and backgrounds – practice makes perfect!
And it is indeed very true (I can confirm it on my own experience).
Pro tip 1: If you´re shooting with a friend, ask him/her to continuously make shots as you move. If you shoot with a tripod, also try to make shots while you move a little. All the best shots are usually made "accidentally", as the model moves, because they always look much more natural than statically posed ones.
Pro tip 2: I also find that photos always look much more natural if you don´t look directly into camera. It is because when you look directly it immediately communicates that the photo is posed.
The overall tip that I would like to give on how to make professional photos of yourself by yourself – is not to wait too long and just start making first photos.
The longer you wait for the perfect moment (perfect weather, day, plans, mood, feeling...), the less likely it will come. And this I can also confirm from my own experience.
Don´t be shy, don´t be afraid to look stupid – the end result will worth all the sweat and leave an awe all your friends (and other people you don´t even know).
Final pro tip: to make your photos even better, you can try using editing and preset filters from apps like VSCO and Lightroom. It will take a little bit to learn how to use them and find the right preset for you, but it will definitely be worth your time!
So do you have any ideas already for your first (or next) photoshoot?
Or maybe you have any questions or doubts? Let me know in the comments below!