Planning a photo shoot? Here’s how to put together a shot list

cincinnati wedding stylist blog

Photo: Annette Navarro

This may seem like a “duh” statement, but I’ll say it anyway:
In order to get what you want, you have to know what you want.

Right. Duh.

But you’d be surprised how often clients go into a photo shoot without a clear plan.

Most people have vague ideas about what they want out of a shoot, but until we can project thoughts into each others’ minds Star Trek-style, a shot list is the best way to communicate exactly what you need to your photographer and team.

So what is a shot list?

A shot list is just what it sounds like: a list of the photos you want to get from a shoot. It’s a a collection of images, ideas, and setups you want to work your way through.

For instance, on an e-commerce shoot, you may want to get silo shots (images of your products on a white background) for product pages, and photos in a variety of lifestyle settings for ads and social media.

Why is it important?

Shot lists are helpful because they force you to think about the images you need, and act as a checklist so you don’t forget anything. They also ensure that the entire team (photographer, stylist, hair & makeup, model, etc.) knows what to expect and how to prepare.

For instance, I recently styled a shoot that went from indoors to outdoors–in freezing temperatures. Had I known our (brave) models would be outside in the cold, I would have pulled coats for them to wear!

As with most other team projects, the more communication, the better.

Ready to get started? Let’s go!

1. Get everyone on the same page

Gather your creative team to discuss everyone’s needs and vision, taking into consideration:

– Image use

Think about the different types of media and how images will be used.

Are they for print? Most magazines and look books are in portrait orientation.
Are they for digital? Websites and social media headers are displayed in landscape orientation, but Pinterest favors vertical images, and Instagram is all about the square.

Be sure to get a variety of options that will work for all of your outlets.


Magazine images are often vertically oriented Photo: Anna Jones/OMS

– “Must haves” vs “nice to haves”

Once you know where the images will be used, determine your must-haves.

For example, a fashion designer’s must-haves might include photos of each garment on a white background for e-commerce and line sheets, necessary for online sales and retailers. Meanwhile, a tight shot of a model’s manicured hand zipping a dress is nice to have for Instagram, but won’t make or break a sale.

– Mood and lighting

Think about the mood you want to convey. Do you want the photos to be fun and colorful or should they be more muted and calming? Soft natural light with minimal contrast works well for a more organic look, while hard bright light with deep shadows plays up the drama.

Take a look at your brand guidelines and make sure everything fits with your overall aesthetic.

– Composition

Composition also affects the “feel” of your images. Do you want products to be organically arranged as if they landed that way by chance, or in a precise grid Things Organized Neatly-style? Will photos be cropped in unusual ways for a trendy attitude, or perfectly centered for a classic feel?

Again, this should reinforce your overall brand.

image composition organic

“Organically arranged” dishes feel fluid and relaxed
Photo: Aaron Conway

2. Make a list of shots

Create a list of your must-have and nice-to-have shots, then put them in order based on importance and general similarity. An ordered list of photos helps keep timing on track and cuts back on downtime.

For example, if you’re photographing product shots and on-figure images for an e-commerce site, you can get the product shots done first, while the models are in hair and makeup.

If you’re working with different sets and backdrops, you can photograph everything on set #1 before tearing down and moving to set #2. Planning the general order prevents having to rebuild.

3. Add visual inspiration

While a written list helps keep the day in order, visual examples help everyone can SEE the objective. You can draw sketches (stick figures count!) or find photos that embody what you want to create.

I like to spend some time gathering 1-2 inspiration images for each shot on the list so there’s a solid starting point for poses, composition and framing. Check out these resources for inspiration, and set up a private Pinterest board and invite your collaborators so everyone can share their thoughts.

[RELATED: 31 Resources for Visual Inspiration]

Compile the inspiration images for lighting, composition, and each shot, add brief descriptions where needed, and voila! Shot list complete!

A word about shoot day:

In reality, very few shoots go exactly the way you plan, and that’s okay! Weather, talent, locations, and collaborators all have a say in how the day turns out, and frankly, some of the most unexpected, unplanned moments are when the magic happens.

There’s nothing wrong with letting things take place organically, just make sure you get what you absolutely need, too. The more details you can work out beforehand, the more time and freedom you’ll have to experiment.

Questions? Need help? Ask away!

Interested in learning more about creating visuals for your brand? Join me for my “Think Like an Art Director” session at Midwest Craft Con on Saturday, February 11th. Register here!

Work // What’s In My Styling Kit

I recently had to re-stock my styling kit for a few photo shoots, so I thought I’d share what I keep in my bag, which is currently a glittery Victoria’s Secret free-gift-with-purchase tote that coats everything in stripper glitter and sorely needs to be replaced. I’m looking at one of these.

photo shoot stylist kit

A few of the things I keep up my sleeve…

Until then, here’s what stays in my kit:

  • Flathead pins and safety pins – have several sizes on hand (long, short, thick, thin) so you’re not poking huge pinholes in delicate materials. 80% of my kit is things that hold other things together.
  • Sewing kit – a basic needle and thread make it easy to replace buttons, baste hems, and tack up sleeves.
  • Portable steamer – handy for on-location shoots.
  • Clear monofilament – for “invisibly” suspending items.
  • Instant Tac – for creating height to prop things up; it’s also useful for making rings smaller and acting as an earring back in an emergency.
  • Zots – clear sticky dots that can be used in countless ways.
  • Lint roller – no photographer wants to clean up tiny specks of lint in post, so roll baby, roll.
  • Clamps and binder clips – to fit clothing, to hold down backdrops, to prop up foam core. Get them in different sizes to suit your needs.
  • Hairspray – for hair, of course, and as static spray for fabrics.
  • Scissors – small enough to cut threads but large enough to cut foam. I also keep a seam ripper in my sewing kit because you DO NOT want to accidentally cut a hole in a garment with too-big scissors.
  • Nipple covers – to conceal the indentation nipples create in clothing, NOT to cover nipples under sheer garments. Use a camisole/bra/nothing (if the model is OK with it) for that.
  • Lotion – because ash is never a good look, on-camera or off.
  • Stain stick – because you will be a DIY dry cleaner. A Tide stick and Shout wipes make it easier.
  • Foam-backed tape, double-sided tape, gaffer’s tape – All the tape, all the time. Stick things together, tape stuff down, and protect shoe soles.
  • Topstick – to avoid wardrobe malfunctions and hold down small areas of fabric.
  • Polishing cloth – to clean glasses, sunglasses, and other smooth/reflective surfaces, and quickly buffing shoes in a pinch. I keep a separate polishing cloth for jewelry.
  • Toothrush – to brush small stains out of suede, to clean grit off the bottom of shoes. It should not be currently in use for brushing teeth.
  • First Aid Kit – for the inevitable on-set boo-boo. Alcohol wipes also come in handy for disinfecting earring posts.
  • Converter – for turning a 3-prong plug into a 2-prong plug, very handy when shooting in older buildings.
  • Febreze – to keep fabrics fresh.
  • Tag gun – to replace tags removed from soft goods.
  • Ziplock bags – for everything from storing all of the above to keeping removed tags together.
photo styling floating glasses

These Prada shades are “floating” thanks to clear monofilament


  • Soft foam padding – to keep dishes from cracking against each other.
  • Quilt batting – for stuffing bags, hoods, sleeves, anything that needs more volume.
  • Glue gun – because who doesn’t like hot-gluing tabletop sets together?
  • Chopsticks – for moving necklaces and chain handles into the right shape.
  • Long-handled tweezers – for moving small objects without disturbing the things around them.
  • Mini toolkit – because sets don’t build themselves.
  • Floral wire and wire cutters – to mold everything from flower stems to watch bands.
  • Paintbrush – for getting dust out of tiny little crevices.
  • Individual superglue packets – so you don’t have to worry about gluing your scissors to your steamer.
  • Goo Gone – for those darn stickers they put on the bottom of drinking glasses.
wardrobe stylist kit items

A camisole gave the model just enough coverage while keeping the focus on the trench coat.


  • Camisole – in black, white, and taupe, these basic layering pieces come in handy more often than you think.
  • Stick-on bra – I always ask models to bring a flesh-colored thong and strapless bra, but sometimes stick-on cups are a necessity.
  • Chicken cutlets – for when the model’s cups runneth under.
  • Body makeup – to even out the models’ skin–veins and mottling take time to remove in post. Be careful not to get any makeup on the clothes!
  • Nail polish & file – for taming janky hands and feet. Plus, I inevitably break a nail.
  • Makeup cover hood – to keep models hair and makeup in place and off the clothes. Anything from a silk scarf to a breathable cap will work.
  • Hangers and garment bags – for when shops and designers just hand you a pair of pants or a dress. Keep garment bags handy to protect their stuff and your sanity.
  • Pantyliners – to protect bathing suits, underwear, and the bottoms of shoes. They also serve as underarm sweat absorbers.
  • Makeup remover towelettes – to remove makeup and wipe down any, uh, odorous body parts.
  • Shoe horn – because a lot of models have big feet. Just sayin’.

Between craft shops, office supply stores, hardware stores, and the usual drugstore suspects, you should be able to find pretty much everything you need. And of course, Amazon (Prime, holla!) has your back in a pinch.

One last thing: When you’re shopping for kit supplies KEEP YO RECEIPTS. These purchases are business expenses and should be recorded as such on your taxes.

Questions? Additions? Let me know in the comments!

Work // Ball Tracer Dummy Photo Shoot

cincinnati photographer fashion photo shoot

A few weeks ago, my friend Josh Anderson (you remember him from the podcast, right?) reached out with an interesting concept for a photo shoot: ballistics and martial arts. Josh likes weird stuff, and after years of styling relatively tame editorials for a mainstream audience, it was fun to push the boundaries a bit.

The process

As soon as I saw the mood board Josh put together, my brain immediately went into Producer mode: We needed people who could move well, so I reached out to dancers Neile Martin and Ian Timothy Forsgren to model.

I contacted my extremely talented (and very pregnant!) friend Stefani Carol to do hair and makeup, and sent her a quick creative brief to give her an idea of the beauty look we were going for.

I’m always down to work with talented designers, so I made arrangements with Anastasiya Yatsuk of TextileHaus and Tessa Clark of Grind & Glaze (who were both part of the Style + Sustainability gala) to borrow wardrobe for the shoot.

Once all the players were in place, I sent everyone the when/what/where details, scouted accessories for the models, and packed up the clothes and my kit.

cincinnati photographer fashion photo shoot

Josh showed Neile and Ian examples of poses as inspiration

Josh already had the set built and lighting set up when we got there (I love when photographers are prepared!), and had pulled a few inspiration photos for poses. Stefani got to work on natural-yet-sweaty makeup and wild hair while I outfitted the models, and the shoot began!

cincinnati photographer fashion photo shoot

Giving direction on the set

Et voila! Martial arts-inspired ballistics madness:

cincinnati photographer fashion photo shoot cincinnati photographer fashion photo shoot cincinnati photographer fashion photo shoot cincinnati photographer fashion photo shoot cincinnati photographer fashion photo shoot cincinnati photographer fashion photo shoot

“Ball Tracer Dummy”
Photographer: Josh Anderson
Hair & Makeup: Stefani Carol
Styling: Tamia Stinson
Wardrobe: TextileHaus and Grind & Glaze
Models: Ian Timothy Forsgren and Neile Martin

Interested in working on a shoot? Need help putting everything together? Get in touch!

How to Create a Podcast When You Don’t Really Know How to Create a Podcast

Whew, things have been busy! I know, I know–everyone is busy, but in addition to work and life stuff, I’ve also been doing interviews and editing and working on everything else that comes along with starting a podcast. The actual recording is pretty straightforward, but as always, there’s more to the creative process than meets the eye. Here’s my experience so far:

Podcast Intro

I recorded the intro in the audio booth at the Cincinnati Public Library’s MakerSpace, which is a fantastic free resource (I’ve also recorded a few interviews there). Once I started editing, it didn’t sound quite right so I re-recorded it in my bathroom with a mic I got on Amazon. I may go back to the audio booth version as I suspect it would sound better with a few tweaks.

Speaking of the intro, I found the music I use on The Passion HiFi’s site–they have plenty of great hip-hop/R&B beats available for free download. Which reminds me, I need to make sure I credit them in the notes and on

Podcast Art

I created the podcast avatar (the square with the name and picture that shows up on iTunes) using Canva. It’s no Photoshop, but it’s a great tool if you need to make reasonably attractive graphics quickly.

Podcast Tutorials

Entrepreneur On Fire’s John Lee Dumas made a tutorial that has been a boon! He updates it regularly, so if you’re interested in creating your own podcast, I highly suggest reading/watching/doing what he says.


I use GarageBand to edit episodes, mostly because the program came free on my Macbook. For me, “editing” basically consists of adding the intro and outro and cutting any unnecessary dead air time. If I had more time and/or brainpower, I’d sit down and learn how to use Adobe Audition (also available in the MakerSpace), which has a lot more bells and whistles.

Hosting Audio

You have to have a place to host your audio the same way you need a server to host your website. I use SoundCloud instead of Libsyn as it’s free for up to three hours and I like the interface, but Libsyn allows you to schedule the release, so…I’m starting to wish I’d done that. It’s important because the audio RSS feed is what iTunes uses to pull in the episodes, and as with blogging, it’s much more convenient to schedule episodes than to have to physically upload them at the same time every week.

Podcast Promotion

Once I export the MP3 from GarageBand, tag it using ID3 (details in the EOF tutorial), and upload to SoundCloud, that’s when the promotional work starts! I created a checklist because I’m picky and love checklists, but it includes:- Setting up the post on, including the show summary, links to sites & people referenced during the show, the avatar, and Soundcloud embed.

  • Setting up the subscriber email notification (I use MailChimp), including the show summary and a link to the post on
  • Sending a thank you email and link to the post to that week’s featured guest.
  • Scheduling any social media posts promoting the show. I need to get better at this, but self-promotion makes my stomach turn. I’m working on it.

Listen Linda, Honey, Listen

Want to listen? The first episodes are embedded below and I release a new one every Wednesday, so sign up for email updates to get notified!


I hope this was helpful–if you have a question, leave a comment and I’ll answer as best as I can. Happy listening!

Work // 2015 Portfolio Faves

The end of the year is prime time for lazy blogger round-ups, so I’m taking full advantage of that and presenting a list of some of my favorite styling work from the past year:

Lady of the Hour (Cincinnati Wedding, Winter 2015)

cincinnati wedding stylist blog

Photos: Annette Navarro

Favorite because: The noon look (that hat!) and the pink leather jacket + feathered gown combo on the cover are right up my alley. I would totally get married in a nontraditional getup like that.

Vintage Ceramics (Cincinnati HOME 2015)

cincinnati prop stylist blog

Photo: Aaron Conway

Favorite because: I wrote the story in addition to styling the opener, so it was nice to get the inside scoop on the pieces we photographed.

Excessorize (Cincinnati SHOPS 2015)

cincinnati fashion stylist

Photos: Jeremy Kramer

Favorite because: Working with local jewelry designers and milliners gave me an opportunity to show some love to extremely talented Cincinnati creatives, and I’m always down for that.

Libby Summer 2015 Lookbook

Photo: Claudia Hershner

Photo: Claudia Hershner

Favorite because: Working with friends like Claudia and the Thread babes is always a blast, and I was astonished at how much easier it is to pull from ONE shop versus the 5-10 I’m usually working with. Plus I’m a bit of a control freak, so having a say in all parts of the creative was an exhilarating challenge.

All Grown Up (Baby Guide 2015)

Photo: Annette Navarro

Photo: Annette Navarro

Favorite because: The kids were freakin’ adorable and so fun to work with. Fun fact: Sophia’s floral dress on the cover is a $350 Dolce & Gabbana number, which she promptly spit up on. Because being a fashion stylist also means being an amateur dry cleaner.

Summer of Love (Cincinnati Wedding Summer 2015)

cincinnati wedding stylist blog

Photo: Annette Navarro

Favorite because: I loved pulling jewelry and accessories from local shops like Continuum and designers like Rock Salt Vintage. Jewelry is ridiculously hard to keep track of on set, but playing around and putting it all together is a blast.

Frieda’s Macarons (Cincinnati Magazine, April 2015)

cincinnati creative direction

Photo: Anna Jones/OMS Photography

Favorite because: Do I even need to say why? Actually, I will say one thing: Monster Macaron AKA when you stack 10 macarons of various flavors then smash them down to take a bite. I never said I was mature.

Be sure to let me know which one is your favorite!

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