5 Tips On How to have a successful photo assignment

This year, three aspiring photographers came to me, seeking advice, while expressing their desires to assist and intern with me; so I decided to write this blog post and start sharing my creative process.

Editorial, lifestyle, and portraiture photography is one of the most challenging domains of photography because you are called to visit new places, meet new people, and make compelling images to support the writing piece of an article published in a magazine, on a website, or for other narrative materials.

Therefore, failing to get the shots right during an editorial assignment won’t only spell doom for you, but also for the person being photographed, and for the client who hired you to shoot this assignment, in the matter of time and investments. So to make sure you rock your editorial, lifestyle, or portraiture assignments, I have compiled a list of the top five things I do before each assignment.

Research your subject, not just their company. As it is most often the case, your subject is a very interesting individual and was likely written about on different topics other than their business. This will help you break the ice quickly and establish a rapport with the person you are photographing.

Plan a shots list. Although your Photo Editor will give you a description of the images to get, in addition, you would like to create a shot list for yourself and your subject. Don’t be afraid to share this list with the people you are photographing as this spirit of sharing will build trust and allow for a collaborative photo session. Your subjects are your collaborators, and having them inject their ideas into the images will yield much better results.

Print a guided direction from your location to your photo shoot location, as sometimes, you might get sent to a small town with no cell phone reception. This happened to me once while I did not have enough fuel in the car tank, had a low tire pressure, and driving at night in the mountains of Pennsylvania. Once I found a spot with cell phone reception I realized my phone battery was low. Morale of the story, backup your backups.

Try to arrive at least an hour prior to the scheduled time for your photo shoot, as most editorial assignments will take you to places you have never been while meeting new people.

Finally, check, double check and even triple check your equipment the day before your assignment, but most importantly, show up, be you, and have fun!

Combine these tips and you will be sure to get the best out of your photo shoots. Find below a sample of the final images from a recent photo shoot I did for the Washington Post Magazine, and a look at my lighting set ups.

Would you like me to discuss a specific photography topic in my next blog post for you? Please leave a comment below, and I will make sure to answer your questions. Thank you! Stay tuned for the article in The Washington Post Magazine.