Top Five Photo Shoot Pitfalls To Avoid

Photo shoot pitfalls to avoid-Behind the Scenes.

The top five mistakes I’ve seen happen on shoots and how to avoid them

As a creative, you already have a lot on your plate, and now you need to do a photo shoot. There are many aspects of a photo shoot that have to come together just right in order to get the best possible images and make sure your investment pays off. Even some of the smallest things can derail a shoot and leave everyone scrambling. I wanted to share a few things that I’ve learned over my career to help you put together a perfect photo shoot. Here are the top five mistakes I’ve seen or experienced and some tips on how to overcome them.

Choosing the Wrong Photographer

There are a lot of photographers around, but not every photographer is the same. It can be hard to know who to trust with your photo shoot. As creative people, we like to work with people we know or with whom we have a connection. However, choosing the right photographer for the project is critical, and just because you know someone who is a photographer doesn’t necessarily make them qualified for the job. Experience and vision are key to making a photo shoot successful.

Here are a few suggestions for selecting a great photographer. Do some research and ask other peers about photographers they like. This is a great place to start. Pay close attention to style, production value, and the overall look and feel of the work. Also, consider the feeling the images convey. Does all that match what you need? Most commercial photographers have one or two specialties and choosing the photographer with the images that reflect the look and feel you are going for will be something to consider closely.

Next, evaluate which photographer best matches your budget and usage needs. The tendency can be to pick a photographer based on price alone but this can cause major problems come shoot day. A good idea is to discuss the photographer’s experience, approach, equipment and crew requirements. In addition, an in-person portfolio review can be the best way to ask questions and see a photographer’s personality, and really get a feel for what it would be like to work with them. The extra time you take selecting the perfect photographer will pay off in the end.

Cutting the Budget in the Wrong Places

This can kill a shoot before it even gets off the ground. Everyone’s budgets are tight these days. We are all being asked to do more for less and everyone is looking for the best options at the best price. It’s important, and even critical, to understand where you can cut and trim and where you need to keep money in place to make sure everything goes smoothly. There does come a point where cutting things too much can cause serious problems on shoot day.

Some ways to trim the budget without sacrificing the quality of the shoot is by shooting fewer shots, fewer days, shooting locally, or evaluating crew needs. All this needs to be clearly communicated so everyone is on the same page come shoot day. A good photographer will ask lots of questions about the number of images they need to produce during a shoot day, how the images will be used, what client and agency expectations are, etc. Together with your photographer, you can find a good balance between quality and cost.

Miscalculating Time for Shots

This is one trap that I think everyone has fallen into, even myself. With budgets tight and clients often wanting stills and video shot together at the same time, being realistic about time requirements is critical. People tend to under-estimate how long it takes to shoot. It all comes down to making sure expectations are discussed and communicated.

As a photographer, I spend a lot of time trying to set realistic time constraints. Deciding in advance what shots are the most critical is important. Then if there is time, you can add in some extra shots. I suggest having a shot list with a list of “must haves” and then “extra shots” with time allocated to each of the critical shots. Setting locked in times when we move onto another shot or location is also important. This should all be done during a pre-production call or meeting. My philosophy is to provide clients with the most high-quality images possible, and trying to cram in too many shots in a single day can compromise that quality.

Not Having the Right Wardrobe

This is something that most people think about before the shoot but I’ve seen it fall through the cracks often. You can be in the perfect location with the perfect model and the most amazing light, but if the model is wearing the wrong clothes it will definitely kill the shot. You may be tempted to rely on talent to bring the right clothes. Doing so can cause problems unless things are communicated to the talent correctly. I always tell talent to text me pictures of what they are going to bring so I can see it beforehand, then I know what they have and we can buy something before the shoot to make sure we have what we need. Usually, you will need to go buy a few things to make sure everything comes together properly. Having a wardrobe stylist that can provide the talent with a full wardrobe is always the ideal, but not always in the budget. With careful planning, any potential wardrobe problems can be addressed and solved before the shoot. For most

I always tell talent to text me pictures of what they are going to bring so I can see it beforehand, then I know what they have and we can buy something before the shoot to make sure we have what we need. Usually, you will need to go buy a few things to make sure everything comes together properly. Having a wardrobe stylist that can provide the talent with a full wardrobe is always the ideal, but not always in the budget. With careful planning, any potential wardrobe problems can be addressed and solved before the shoot. For most shoots the combination of talent supplied wardrobe along with some supplemental purchases is ideal.

Choosing the Wrong Models

The last thing to keep in mind is where and how to get your talent for your shoot. There are times when you can use employees or friends but that often takes much longer to coordinate and sometimes doesn’t bring about the best results. In my experience, if you are shooting something specific about employees then use them, but that’s about the only time it makes sense.

Finding the right talent for a shoot can be a lot more time consuming and difficult than most people think. It’s critical to match the type of talent with the type of shoot you are doing. If you need to shoot a running shot make sure you have an actual runner, not just a pretty face. If you doing a lifestyle shot, make sure the models look good together and look believable, etc. Seems pretty simple, but the wrong model can really make the shoot much more difficult. On the other hand, the right model gives you exactly what you need and makes the shoot go much smoother.

I recommend developing a relationship with a few modeling agencies in your area and reaching out to them every time you have a project come up. That way you can see who they have to match your specific needs. Also look into specialty agencies to get exactly what you need.


I hope you find these tips helpful and that you can learn from what I’ve experienced over the years. Avoiding these five pitfalls on your next photo shoot will help ensure success.  If you have any questions or would like to reach out to discuss your next upcoming project, please reach out to me at or call me at 801-875-8620. You can see my work at and follow me on instagram at brandonflint_.

Active Families Needed!!

Want to get paid to have professional pictures of your family taken outdoors?

I just got an assignment to produce a series of family-centered recreational activities shot in Utah. I need active families to photograph for this assignment. They following criteria must be met for the current assignments (more assignments coming so let any families know):


  • Kids ranging from ages 5-15ish
  • Camping at Bear Lake over one night


  • Any Lake in Utah
  • Must already have a boat
  • Kids ranging from ages 5-15ish

All participants must be able to sign a model release or have a parent sign for them. I will cover all travel expenses and will pay each family $200 along with copies of the photos. I also have about 6 other family-centered shoots coming up over the next two months so I need lots of families. If you are a family or know of a family looking for an all-expense paid adventure please fill out the form below or feel free to email me at or call 801-875-8620.

Deadline is Monday Aug. 29th

Active Families-Grandma and kids in a Hammock

Active Families Needed

Feature: Trail Running for Runners World Magazine April 2016

Trail Running for Runners World Magazine

I am so excited to have a two page spread in the latest issue of Runners World Magazine. It features a shot I took of my friend and avid trail runner David Dawson. We shot this originally for my portfolio awhile back, with the idea that a magazine or company would pick it up. It ended up being a great fit for Runners World and you can find it now in the April 2016 Issue. Here is how it came together.

I love capturing people in big epic locations so when you look at the image you think. “I want to be there” and you feel like you are experiencing the moment with the athlete.  That is what I set out do for this trail running shot. I called up my friend David and told him what I wanted to do and he was down. I then asked him where he likes to run, and we decided that up above Sundance Ski Resort would be an amazing spot. Luckily I knew someone that had access to a cabin up there and they got me access to this great location.

I liked this spot because it had lots of options.  When I had scouted out the location a few days before our shoot, I had intended to shoot going the other direction towards the mountains. That would have put a nice waterfall and Mt. Timpanogos in the background.  When we started shooting however, some clouds had rolled in blocking all of that, so I ended up having to go for option B. I was shooting on a six foot ladder. When I spun around shooting the opposite direction into the sun, I realized that was the shot. This was the final result.

There has to be a lot of things that come together to make a truly great image happen. You need a great location, great light, great talent, and sometimes a little bit of luck. All of that happened on this shoot and it was one of those experiences that gets you stoked to keep going, keep shooting, and keep creating.

Thanks to David Dawson(Runner), Blake Hansen (Assisting), Jordan McCormick(location), Tandem Stock (stock agency), and Runners World for getting it out there.

Sunrise over Salt Lake City Inversion

Time Lapse of Sunrise Over Salt Lake City Inversion

Last weekend I decided to get up early and see if I could create a cool time lapse video of sunrise over a Salt Lake City Inversion. I got up early and drove to a trailhead above downtown and started hiking. I wasn’t really sure if I could hike high enough to get out of the inversion before the sun came up, but decided to try. I hiked for a awhile while in the dark, cold, and fog, second guessing whether or not this was going to work. Shortly after that I popped out into a beautiful scene just as the sun was starting to come up. I set up my camera and started shooting. This is how it turned out. I love it when you follow your gut and it pays off. Enjoy!