Home » Taking the Plunge - Arranging an Outdoor Photo Shoot.

Taking the Plunge - Arranging an Outdoor Photo Shoot.

By Lightworks, written 1436215148

Living where I do in the South West, the warmer days often leave you yearning to grab your camera and get out into the rugged beauty of the coasts and the moors, but once you do, you often find yourself longing for a model to be there as well – such moments often cry out for a subject to give the image the focus and immediacy – so what is to be done? Well, I’ve often used my Landscape outings, in part at least, as planning opportunities to seek out places and times for when it is possible to go back and work with a model to create something special.


The first thing, then, is to research locations, preferably by visiting and scouting them well, and by gaining as much information about them as possible (if it’s a beach, make sure you know details about tide times, what areas are accessible and best to use). Make sure what you know is current – there’s nothing worse than reaching somewhere and finding you cannot use it because a path is closed or the unforeseen has occurred, so it’s always a good idea to have an alternative location as a possibility, just in case.

Make sure also that the location you plan to use is suited to the type of images you wish to create – some genre’s just aren’t going to be possible in some places, or at the very least, at some periods of the day.

Finding the right people

Once you know where you want to work, the question then becomes who to work with. If you’re new to all this, it might be a good idea to work on your first project with another photographer – the first time I sought to work with a model, I got a bad case of nerves, and it took me half the day to get past them, so to have someone with you who can help is often a good idea, especially if you’re going to somewhere out in the sticks - two pairs of hands are often best when hiking with kit or setting up an image. 

Next, and most important, is going to be the model you’re going to work with. This will depend on the nature of the work you're planning to create (Portraiture, Fashion, Cosplay, Body Art, Glamour or Figure work).  If you have already worked with someone you find has a look you enjoy employing and they fit the theme, that might well be where to start, especially if you enjoy working together. If this is a first time and you don’t know who to work with, it’s usually best to choose a model who has lots of experience who you can see will be comfortable in front of the camera and will thereby help create the desired result. Spending some time using the search and casting features of a good website like Purple Port can certainly help with this part of the project.

Once you’ve selected who is suitable, get in touch and see if there’s availability on a date that is mutually good for everyone concerned (which may include a make-up artist if required).


So, the location(s) and model(s) are selected, and the calendar is telling you the shoot day is fast approaching… what’s next? Well, aside from checking and making sure all your camera gear is ready, there's several other things it’s always good to take along, especially if you’re planning to shoot somewhere fairly remote.  Whilst not wanting to hike miles with a van-load of extras, experience would advise a few essentials. 

These should include:

  • A decent OS Map or useable GPS, just in case
  • A basic first-aid kit (lotions and potions for stings and bites, paracetamol, and a selection of plasters)
  • Towels – especially if working on a beach – and sun lotion
  • A packed lunch if working through the day
  • A thermos containing the model’s choice of beverage (as they’ll be a lot colder or hotter than anyone else)
  • A decent torch if working into the evening
  • A model release form (you don’t officially need to have these, but I’ve often found them useful and some models make it an imperative. It also gives you a record of the day)
  • Payment for the model (and MUA if applicable) 

On Location

Once you’re on location, it’s usually good to begin by talking-through with your model a rough idea of what you’ll be shooting, selecting locations and even having a mock run-though of some of the images before you begin (which will also give you an opportunity to check on what’s viable with regards to lighting and general composition before you start).

The key to any good image once it’s reasonably lit is composition, so seek to glean a range of images of your model in each setting from a range of angles and views so you can select the most interesting and best for your own portfolio or presentation. Work with the model, encouraging variation in poses but also advising when to hold a pose that is good so you can move to different positions to take this. Always be sure to tell the model when things are going well and provide clear guidance when you’re after a particular pose or expression for an image. Keep the creating process fresh – don’t spend too long working on a single pose or in a particular location before introducing a variable in look or mood. If the model comes up with good ideas, don’t be afraid to incorporate these into what you’re doing – such collaboration often results in the most creative images.

If a shoot is going well, it will quickly become a creative and enjoyable experience, and you'll probably find the time rushes past, so make sure you include break periods, especially if working over half or a whole day. 

At the end of the day, make sure you have fulfilled any agreements with the model (i.e. you have contact details for forwarding images if that’s part of the agreement) and that your camera and images are safely put away ready for (probably several hours) of editing when you reach home or the studio.

And there you have it -  an experience you’ll probably want to repeat many times over.