7 Tips to Organizing a Fashion Shoot | Behind The Scenes

Editorial shoots can be glamorous, artistic, and challenging! Whether you’re a client, stylist or photographer, an organized photoshoot starts behind the scenes and rides straight through shoot day. For each stage of the photoshoot, incorporating a planned workflow helps to save you time and money. Fashion photography, organization behind the scenes to shoot day will take your brand, product and photography to the next level!


Editorial or high fashion, a roof top or garbage dump, high noon sun or street light, fashion photography ideas are endless! So how do we take so many ideas and form cohesion? Create a strong story line, such as who are these characters you are photographing, and what is their scenario? A story will help your team with filling in the details of the shoot. Details may include hair and makeup, lighting and time of day.

If story telling is new to you, or you’re just looking for fresh inspiration, research can be a friend:

  • Educate yourself with your client’s brand
  • Breeze through fashion magazines
  • Review leading couture fashion houses on-line from around the world
  • Take a walk through an art gallery
  • Check out risky creatives who have an “out of the box” view

There are many ways to refresh your “creative” and drive you in a new direction.

Mood Board

Creatives who use mood boards range from the international publishing company, “Elle Italia” to visual consultant, Inga Brege’s of the famous Netflix’s series “Russian Doll”. In my opinion, mood boards are a great resource to describe the narrative. 

Fashion organization, behind the scenes to shoot day, fashion photography, photographer, Suzanne Carroll Photography, industrial fashion, on location, industrial, woman wearing hat, model, high fashion, editorial

A board created on-line or cut and paste pulls various elements of your story together to create mood. Nothing needs to be exact; It is the “feel” that is significant. With a glance, team members can quickly grasp the whole picture. Also, understanding the direction the shoot needs to go – that’s a HUGE time saver! Considerations to look at before you build the board may be location access, equipment, and budget resources. 

Components that fit into a Fashion Shoot mood board include: client branding, hair, makeup, lighting, location, models, posing, even a quote or a poem!


In my experience, a team can be very few people wearing many hats, a crew already assembled or a hand-picked team, selected by the photographer, after the stories conception. With luck and experience, each scenario can be a success. 

Fashion organization, behind the scenes to shoot day, fashion photography, photographer, Suzanne Carroll Photography, makeup, red lips, blush brush, model

Team members, besides the photographer, may include: fashion stylist, props designers, hair and makeup artist, set designer, photographer assistant, and the models! If you’re budget is tight, try to find a talent that can fit into many roles. An example is a hair and makeup artist, or a set designer and fashion stylist. 

As the team develops, send each member a shoot brief, mood board, and a portfolio of your style of photography. You may have choose to work with a creative team member on their merit, but remember, they still need to choose you. 


Whether you have arrived at your location through a concept, or your concept through location, your fashion’s background is the glue that holds a story together. When sourcing a location, pick somewhere that has distinction. A place that will support your concept. When you have narrowed it down, scout the location. 

Create a question checklist of what to consider for shoot day:

  1. Is there enough variety to shoot the models?
  2. Where will the light be at what time?
  3. Is there a suitable place for hair, makeup, and model changes?
  4. Do I need permits?
  5. Will the time of day have other noise/visual distractions in this location?
  6. What other equipment will I need?
  7. Do I have a contingency plan in place?
  8. How will everyone get here and where do they park?
Fashion organization, behind the scenes to shoot day, fashion photography, photographer, Suzanne Carroll Photography, train bridge, pink, suitcase, on location, model, high fashion, editorial

With a plan in mind and a location scout, there is less pressure on shoot day, the team can work at a relaxed pace and you have may have more time to generate extra shots. 

Organize Everything

The devil is in the details. Equipment, team member roles, models, and outfits – timing and coordination can make or break a budget!

Equipment, especially when going on location, needs to be planned, prepped, and backed up. Team members should wear clothing in layers, neutral colours (bright colours can spill on a model’s complexion – not fun in post!) and dress as comfortable as possible. Team creatives also need surfaces to work on, models may require robes in between takes and outfits need to be hung up.

Call Sheet

One tool that can help with the organized mayhem of an on location fashion shoot is a call sheet. A call sheet is a list of who everyone is, how to get a hold of them, location details, what each member’s role is and where folks need to be and when. You can add as much or as little as you would like, but the idea is basically the same.

Take a peak at an example I created for this blog: Suzanne Carroll Photography | Call Sheet

Working on a personal creative shoot for your portfolio? Below are tips on how to organize your outfits:

  • Devise a master shot list and display it on a large board
  • Create a write up for each outfit: model, shot #, props needed, clothing features, and a checklist of each item in outfit
  • Design separators between outfits that fit onto the wardrobe bar(see link below)
  • Keep accessories and shoes in a bag attached to a hanger
  • Attach a picture of each outfit – close ups of shoes and accessories
  • Fasten the write up on the bag of accessories

Would you like more budget friendly, highly effective tips and techniques? Very relatable to fashion photography organization, check out Kerry Hishon’s blog post on”8 Quick Tips for Organizing Costumes Backstage, For Community & School Productions“.

Shoot Day

You are FINALLY here! You’ve done the work, talent is everywhere and your team is ready to go…

Everyone… eyes on the prize. Before ground zero, post the mood board in a highly visible location, keep multiple copies of the shot list on hand, and have your model releases ready to sign. During the shoot, assign creatives to attend to the details. Model’s makeup and hair will need touchups. Props and wardrobe should be ready for the next shot and put away cleanly and quickly.

Fashion organization, behind the scenes to shoot day, fashion photography, photographer, Suzanne Carroll Photography, blue socks, theatre, on location, model, high fashion, editorial

Have a snack and drink station set up. You don’t have to be modelling fur coats in the desert to need substance and hydration. Fashion is hard work for everyone. Fruit and water, along with chips and pop, will appeal to most appetites. Keep your crew happily sustained from beginning to end.

There is no better time to bond with your crew like the present. Although you have done everything in your power to make this session go off without a hitch, keep an open dialogue with the team. Trust the talented creatives to do what they do best. There is an opportunity to grow when we are receptive to other’s opinions and collaboration!

Fashion photography, organization behind the scenes to shoot day will take your brand, product and photography to the next level …