Tips For A Better Shoot

The below article is part of a series written by Rocket partner studio and team member, Erica Dean Lamb. Be sure to catch the next part of the series in the upcoming Special Edition Viva Las Vegas issue! Model in featured image is Scarlett Addams, photographed by Erica Dean Lamb Photography.


As a photographer who was once a model, I have experience on both sides of the camera. I’ve had successes, and I’ve learned from some mistakes as well. My goal is always to make sure that my clients get the most out of their shoots with me, and I’d love to help you get the most out of all of the shoots you have as well. There are 4 major phases to making sure you get the most bang for your buck. In this article I’m going to explore Planning the Shoot. Future issues will contain 16 Tips for Preparing for Your Shoot, Making the Most of Your Time at the Shoot, and Post-Shoot Considerations.




            One recurring theme you’ll see in my recommendations with every phase of the shoot is COMMUNICATION. If I know what my clients are trying to accomplish with each shoot, I can tailor my planning as the photographer, especially when booking a one-on-one shoot. I frequently offer my clients multiple choices for one-on-one shoots of an hour or more, and I LOVE it when they have an opinion. Frankly, if a client tells me she doesn’t care what direction the shoot takes, I’m more likely to aim for a more expensive option such as booking a reliable studio, recommending a makeup artist and/or hair stylist, and setting a longer shoot. That way, I can be ready for just about anything my client brings as far as wardrobe options and ideas, I can provide more guidance and assistance during the shoot, and I can ensure that we wind up with as many amazing images as possible. This isn’t a bad thing, but if you want to get a little more bang for your buck, talking with your photographer about what you want to accomplish is key.


Frankly, I think planning is one of the most exciting parts of a shoot. You may find inspiration in many places, from putting together a look that you HAVE to capture, to the perfect prop, to a theme offering from a local photographer. One thing I can say for certain, though, is that the more fun you have putting the look together, the more it shows on the day of the shoot.


            If your shoot is based on a particular look or prop that you’ve chosen, you’ll want to work closely with your photographer to ensure the right location is picked to suit your look. For example, if you’re thinking tiki, you really don’t want to shoot outdoors in winter, unless you’re in Florida of course. Having ideas of places you’ve seen that would be fantastic to have your shoot is very handy. Remember, getting the right location scouted and booked could take a considerable amount of time if it’s not a traditional studio, so the earlier you start talking to the photographer about it, the better.


            When your shoot is focused on an event or holiday (Independence Day, Christmas, Halloween, etc.), planning early is even more important. Everyone gets excited about shooting for holidays right before the holiday, and if you wait until a couple of weeks before the holiday to shoot your set, it could mean that your images aren’t edited and ready by the deadline to submit to your favorite magazine (Rocket, of course!). I highly recommend trying to beat the crowd and plan to shoot your holiday sets at least 2 months prior to your submission deadline.


            If you’re shooting with a set put together by the photographer, or at a location picked by the photographer, ask for reference images so that you can get the right feel and complementary colors in your wardrobe choice based on the location.


            Whether shooting for a holiday, or shooting a theme that is being offered by a local photographer, I highly recommend having at least two wardrobe options (unless wardrobe is provided by the photographer/studio). There’s nothing worse than arriving to the shoot and realizing that your outfit doesn’t work in the setting, or that you forgot a mandatory part of the look and don’t have anything else to wear. It really does happen more often than you’d think.


            Though my favorite kind of shoot is the kind where I and the model have time to play and experiment, I do find, however, that most of my shoots with the local groups tend to be 15-30 minute per person mini shoots with a set theme. If you only have 15 minutes, you absolutely should not plan on trying to do two looks. I really don’t recommend it for 30 minutes either, because changing to your second look will take up almost half of your time. That said, if you have a full hour or more, come ready with 3-4 outfits and make the most of the time you booked! You shouldn’t expect to shoot all of the outfits, but rather choosing which best suit your location and the vibe you have with the photographer.


Also, when choosing to work with a particular photographer, pay attention to the type of work they produce. If you’re looking for a dark “gothabilly” look, does the photographer have anything like that in their portfolio? If you’re a curvy beauty trying to find someone to “shop or smooth” parts of you with which you aren’t as happy, does the photographer have curvy ladies featured in their work, and do you like how they did the edits? If you’re looking for full or partial nudes or lingerie, have you seen the photographer feature sexier looks in their portfolio? Don’t get me wrong, I love to do shoots with very different looks or processing, but whenever a prospective or returning client asks me to do a certain “look” that I’ve never shot before, I hesitate to say yes. I love that my clients trust me, and I want to keep that trust by not taking their hard-earned money to do something that I don’t KNOW I can deliver.


Have you talked to other ladies who have worked with the photographer to get their thoughts on working with him/her? References are gold, so if a lady tells you they liked a photographer for X look, but wouldn’t work with them for Y, or they say they wouldn’t be comfortable doing sexier looks with so-and-so, but love another person for that kind of shoot, listen to your sisters! I’ve been in some uncomfortable shoots with photographers and wished I had gotten references before deciding to spend an hour or two alone with the person.


If you have fun with, and are invested in the planning for your shoot, I think you’ll find that your images will go from good to amazing. And remember – communicating with your photographer early on will make your shoot run more smoothly on the day of!


If you have questions on Planning the Shoot, please email me at Your question and my answer may be included in the Rocket Magazine blog.


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