10 Lessons Learned in My First DIY Photoshoot

Does the thought of taking your own photos while out and about in public sound terrifying? I’m there with you girl. That was me. Like . . . hardcore.

Early this month (after several months of telling myself I was going to), I did it!! I bit the bullet! I know how you’re feeling, and I know you can do it!

Looking back on my photoshoot, I want to share a few things with you. These are a few things I did and a few things I should have done and will MAKE SURE to do next time.

1. Know your branding

Before you go out and take photos for your marketing, website, social media, and the latest promotion, you need to know your branding. This is beyond just colors. Your branding affects lighting, clothing choices, poses, accessories, locations . . . 

If your business deals with pet products, then you’re going to want to include different poses, props, locations, and clothing choices than if you sold black tie gowns. 

In your pet branding, you’ll want photos in the park, you’ll want your pets and your friend’s pets around. You’ll be wearing jeans and a t-shirt comfy-chic style rather than a gown on the steps of your local opera house.

2. Mood board 

Take some time, hang out with Pinterest, and braindump ALL your photoshoot ideas, wishes, and dreams. Collect poses, hairstyles, makeup, props, outfits, compositions, accessories, shoes, jewelry . . . I would recommend setting aside a specific amount of time for this (if you are anything like me, you could easily go down this rabbit hole and spend WAY too long gathering ideas and inspiration.

So set a timer, collect your ideas, and then PURGE your board. What underlying threads are there? Did you accidentally pin something multiple times (or is that just me?)

Here’s one I put together before my photoshoot.

3. Pamper yourself the day before

Take some time for YOU!

Photoshoots can get up close and personal, and leave you feeling vulnerable and exposed. To combat this, do the things that make you feel GREAT! (I am the worst actress and my emotions are constantly showing through, so this is essential for me!) Get yourself in a good head space before your photoshoot.

My favorite pre-photoshoot-self-love rituals are: face mask, bubble bath, mani/pedi, a FULL night’s sleep, and a yoga session. The better you treat your body, the better it will treat you! And who doesn’t want fresh nails and bagless eyes?!

** If you’re doing your own makeup, make sure you practice anything new you would like to do. Don’t wait until that morning to try putting on fake lashes for the first time in years . . . it may not work well . . . by the end, I think I had more glue than mascara on my lashes!

Never allow waiting to become a habit. Live your dreams and take risks. Life is happening NOW!

4. Locations

Before you load the car with extra outfits, props, and camera gear, make sure you know where you’re going! Your mood board helps out with this part.

Do you want to be indoors? Outdoors? At your desk? At the coffee shop? Or at the beach?! Do you want a dark or light background? Check your branding; what backgrounds complement your business and your goals?

** This is one spot I needed a bit more prepping for. It ended up working, but I would love to plan a bit more next time. We chose a mustard field (on the side of the highway . . .), a blush/peach side of a shop downtown, and the brick facade of the local library! Get a variety in your locations. That way they don’t all look like they were taken the same day, even though we all know they are . . . but still.

5. Timing and Lighting

Lighting depends on your brand. Are you bright and sunny? Dramatic and moody? Black and white?

You should always use natural lighting when you can. This can be next to an open window if you are inside, or out in the glorious sun. But not RIGHT in the sun, we need your eyes open!

The most even and easy to work with lighting is at sunrise and sunset. Here the light is soft instead of blazing and hot.

Whether you are in the sun or in the shade at any time of day, make sure that your whole composition is in. When you mix shade and sun it gets really hard to edit (unless you’re going for that dramatic look, which for this blog I’m assuming you’re not).

6. Grab a buddy

You can do the tripod set up with an auto timer or a remote, but I have found that I prefer to have someone with me. For my photoshoot, I recruited my sister (aka my Virtual Assistant) to come with me as my photographer.

Whomever you bring, make sure they are familiar with these ten tips and tricks too. They need to be just as prepared as you are and you need to be on the same page. It’s like wedding dress shopping—find someone who will help you find what YOU love, not someone who will loudly express their opinion, thank you Susan, my second cousin twice removed. This is your business and these photos will represent you and your business.

7. Try different angles


Do you know which side of your face you prefer? Do you know how far down or up to tilt your head? Do you know how to get a flattering angle from above and below too (so you don’t look like Ursula taking over the Caspian Sea)?

The key here is to experiment. Take a burst on your iPhone of you moving your head and figure out which one you like best, and then replicate it.

The biggest thing here for me, is to keep your face parallel to the camera so you don’t accentuate the chin or forehead (unless you want to compensate for either).

But PLAY with it, try things out. This can be done before your photoshoot or at the beginning of your shoot. You just want to avoid finding your favorite angle halfway through your photoshoot. Spend some time and find it beforehand.

8. Your iPhone is just fine

Having the quality camera and equipment is the goal, but if you don’t have those yet, your iPhone is just fine.

In our research before our photoshoot, we found out the iPhone can do A LOT more than we thought. Apple even walks you through them with easy-to-follow videos.

The features we used the most were: depth control (controlling the blur of the background), how to shoot with portrait lighting, and how to create a bouncing live photo (perfect for using in Instagram stories).

9. The authentic laugh

We can all spot a forced and fake laugh from a mile away. It’s all about the eyes, right? If you don’t smile from your eyes it can look off putting, not quite what we’re going for here. This is also where having someone else around helps. Putting yourself on the spot to think of or remember something funny when you’re already thinking about head angles, holding your pose, pushing the remote at the right time while holding it nonchalantly . . . AND think of something funny (besides my mental juggling act while relaxing my face to appear effortless and casual . . . ).

Having someone who can take you out of your head, knows your inside jokes and sense of humor, makes it leaps and bounds easier to capture that authentic smile.



In any project, especially in your business created by YOU so you can do what you LOVE, you should ENJOY what you are doing!

One thing we found in our photoshoot is the importance of bringing drinks and snacks, it all goes downhill if someone gets hangry!

Take these tips, do some experimenting, and try things out! 

In our photoshoot, we took over 300 photos and after some basic editing in Lightroom, we have about 60-70 usable photos! I couldn’t be happier with our first photoshoot!

Doing your own photos is just like any new habit or skill—you won’t be as good as you want to be at first, but the more you do it, the better you will get!

FREE 3-Day Photoshoot Challenge

Learn all the tips, tricks, and hacks to get

you back in front of your brand and your business!