9 min read

16 Photoshoot Ideas to Improve Your Photography

9 min read

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Are you running out of inspiration? Do you get the feeling that you can’t make your ideas come to life? Trying out different photoshoot ideas is a great way to fix that. New ideas can help you get out of your comfort zone and develop your style.

They can even inspire you to get into a different photography genre. Even if you don’t get perfect results, you’ll have new skills and experience. This can significantly improve your photography in the long run.

Here is our list of creative photoshoot ideas for all kinds of photographers.

General Photoshoot Ideas

These photoshoot ideas can be used by any kind of photographer. They mainly focus on camera settings, props, and other technical elements.

1. Use Only One Aperture During Your Photoshoot

close up of puddle on street.

An aperture is in charge of several things. Most people associate it with background blur. The larger your aperture, the blurrier your backgrounds (and foregrounds) will be. Large apertures are good for macro and portrait photography. Small apertures are ideal for landscape and street photography. These are very general rules that most photographers have to learn. But what if you broke these rules for your photoshoot?

Choose an aperture. It can be a random number. It can be something you’ve been meaning to try for a while. Try to use an aperture value that you haven’t used in the past. This might be challenging, but it might also help you learn something new. For example, if you’re used to taking detailed shots, use an aperture like f/1.8. Don’t change it at any point during your photoshoot.

The point of this idea is to help you look at your genre from a different perspective. If you’re a portrait photographer, why not take detailed photos people? If you’re a landscape photographer, why not experiment with blurrier backgrounds?

2. Focus on Your Backgrounds Only

out of focus shot of girl standing in front of mountain.
Out of focus shots tend to have a warm and candid feel to them.

This is another fun challenge for every kind of photography. Instead of focusing on your subject, focus on your background. It’s okay if your subject looks blurry. You can use it as a foreground.

In some ways, foregrounds are the opposite of backgrounds. They’re closer to the camera. When blurred, they add depth to an image. This extra layer can give your photos a more candid and interesting atmosphere.

This is a great idea to use in beautiful location. Make sure your backgrounds aren’t too simple. If they are, your final results might look too abstract or dull. (If that’s the look you’re going for then that’s completely fine, though.)

3. Shoot in B&W Mode

B&W shot of mother holding daughter.

Many cameras have a black & white (B&W) shooting mode. This is a handy feature for creative photographers. When you look at the world from a colourless perspective, you might find lots of inspiring things to photograph. B&W mode focuses on contrast rather than colours. Because of this, it can provide you with many refreshing photoshoot ideas.

If you don’t have this mode, you can shoot in colour first. When you edit your pictures, make sure you convert all of them to B&W. This will actually give you more control over your photos’ contrast and tones.

4. Take 20 Unique Photos From One Spot

girl standing in front of natural landscape.

Choose a location with a picturesque view. Stand firmly in one spot. Don’t move to another spot until you’ve taken 20 unique photos.

This photoshoot idea is all about perspective. One spot might seem boring, but it might secretly have lots of beautiful details. If you’re outdoors, look at the sky. Shoot from a very low angle. Take photos from the hip. Check out every angle possible from that one spot. This can teach you how to see potential in all kinds of places. When you’re done with one spot, move to another one. Keep going until you’re satisfied with your results!

5. Focus on Two Colours at a Time

hand reaching out to bell peppers.
It’s okay if some details in your pictures are a different colour. Make sure they don’t stand out too much, though.

Minimalism is home to many unforgettable photographs. If you focus on simplicity, you might be able to give your photography the boost it deserves. For this photoshoot idea, pick two colours. These will be the main colours in all of your pictures.

You can pick complementary colours or ones that clash. Don’t be afraid to try things that haven’t been done before! Now, look for those colours or create them. This depends on your photography genre and style.

Portrait Photoshoot Ideas

Portrait photography is one of the most popular genres in the world. There are many ways you can approach it. If you’re tired of the same old portrait photos, give these creative ideas a try.

6. Take Self-Portraits Next to a Window

girl posing next to window in natural light.

Taking self-portrait can help you:

  • empathise with your models
  • feel more confident in your own skin
  • familiarise yourself with lighting, camera settings, etc., in a much more advanced way

If you don’t know where to start, use a window as a light source. Windows are one of the best props for indoor photography. If it’s light outside, you can get lots of striking results. You can face the window directly, stand with your side to the window, or shoot against the window.

If you face the window directly, your entire face will be lit. This will let you take minimalistic but effective self-portraits. If you stand with one side to the window, half of your face will be lit. This is great for mysterious or emotional self-portraits. If you take photos against the window light, you’ll be able to create an interesting silhouette.

7. Take Faceless Photos of People

girl standing in front of tree in a park.
Photos like this aren’t exactly portraits, but they can be a great addition to your portfolio.

I promise that this photoshoot idea isn’t as creepy as it sounds! Portraits don’t always have to feature faces. Take photos of the back of someone’s head. Take a close-up of someone showing off their hand jewellery. Photograph an intricate hairstyle.

Faceless photos of people can be more emotional than your average portrait. They can tell a deeper story about a model. They can help viewers understand what the model loves most in their life.

Many wedding and fine art photographers use this approach to improve their photography. If you look beyond someone’s face and try to focus on other details, your photos will inevitably start to look more meaningful.

8. Re-Create Childhood Pictures

woman and a girl sitting in front of a bright sunset.

Are you in the mood to walk down memory lane? You can easily do this by re-creating childhood photos. This can be a very fun process. You’ll have to look for clothes that resemble the ones in your pictures. If there are other people in your photos, you can include them in your photoshoot!

If you want to take it to the next level, try to make your photos look old. Use textures and vintage presets to give your digital photos a nostalgic feel.

Landscape Photoshoot Ideas

Landscape photography is another popular genre. No matter where you are, there’s always something significant you can photograph. How can you do this in a way that isn’t boring? Here are some ideas.

9. Tell a Story About Your Landscape Using Props

bicycle in a field of yellow flowers.

Landscape photos don’t always have to look the same way. You can add props and people to your composition. This could help you tell a deeper story about yourself and the landscape.

Here are a few things you can include in your landscape shots:

  • balloons
  • a bicycle
  • yourself (check out Elizabeth Gadd for inspiration)
  • mirrors
  • colourful smoke bombs

10. Use an Infrared Photo Filter

infrared photo of bridge and trees.

Infrared photography shows us what the human eye can’t see. It’s very common in landscape photography thanks to its surreal colours. White trees and pink grass aren’t unusual in this unique genre.

To achieve this effect, all you need is an infrared photo filter. One of the most popular ones is the Hoya R72. Infrared filters are relatively inexpensive compared to other landscape filters. Professional ones tend to cost less than $50.

11. Take Photos of the Same Place at Different Times of Day

detailed landscape photo of city and lake.

Progression is a common theme in every photography genre. It’s especially important in landscape photography, where everything is constantly changing. Seasons and natural phenomenons can make the same landscapes look drastically different.

The most predictable change is time. A landscape can look moody or welcoming depending on the light. Try to capture this in your favourite location. Take photos of the same place in the morning, during the day, and at night. This will help you strengthen your knowledge of camera settings. It will also introduce you to all kinds of lighting.

Still Life Photoshoot Ideas

Still life photography focuses on the beauty of non-living objects. With the right lighting and composition, still life photos can look as emotional as photos of people. There are many ways you can improve your still life photography skills. Let’s start with some fun photoshoot ideas.

12. Add Some Motion to Your Still Life Photos

milk splashing in a small cup.

Still life photography doesn’t always have to feature still objects. Add movement to your shots. Sprinkle sugar or glitter on your subject. Pour water into a cup. Move your light source around to create a halo effect. All of these things will make your pictures look alive.

If you want to create a dreamier effect, use a very slow shutter speed. A slow shutter speed makes your camera take a photo for a long period of time.

You need to use a tripod to avoid taking very blurry photos.

13. Create a Moody Atmosphere Using a Black Sheet of Cloth or Paper

dried flowers in front of a black background.

Dark backgrounds are associated with luxury and moodiness. They can give your photos a very professional look. You can use a large sheet of cloth or paper for this. It can be black or dark blue.

If your subject doesn’t stand out enough, use direct light. You can shine a lamp on it or place it next to a large window.

Couples Photoshoot Ideas

To really stand out, photos of couples have to be authentic. You can achieve this by communicating with your models before the photoshoot. Make sure you share your ideas with them and ask for their feedback. This way, they’ll feel appreciated and heard. Take as many spontaneous photos as possible. Last but not least, keep our fun photoshoot ideas in mind.

14. Document the Couple’s Favourite Routine

diptych of couple spending time indoors.
Diptychs are a great way to merge multiple photos and tell a story.

Take photos of the couple in their favourite location. This can be as simple as their home or as colourful as an amusement park. Make sure you choose a location that has lots of available light. This will help you take sharp and flattering pictures.

Once you reach the location, let your models tell the story themselves. Let them do their favourite activities. This will encourage them to get lost in their own world. In turn, you’ll get lots of opportunities to take fun couple photos.

15. Take Romantic Silhouette Photos at Sunset

landscape photo of couple in front of sunset.

To achieve the silhouette effect, shoot against the sun. Make sure you slightly underexpose so that the sky looks clear.

Romantic sunset photos are popular for a reason. To make yours unique, include other elements in your pictures. Use the general photoshoot ideas in the first part of this article. Shoot in B&W mode, use a different aperture, and break the rules. You can also use lens filters and accessories to make your photos even more interesting.

16. Take Photos From a Distance

couple standing together in wide landscape.
If you don’t have a zoom lens, you can still take awesome couple photos. Take photos in a location that will complement the couple’s outfits and make your photos stand out.

Posed photos of couples are awesome, but why not add some spontaneity to your photoshoot? Instead of getting close to your models, take a few steps back. If you need inspiration for this, check out Samantha Marquart’s Instagram. She’s currently working on a self-isolation series. To stay safe, she takes photos of her models from a distance. This gives all of her photos a cozy and intimate atmosphere.

You can use a zoom lens to take high-quality photos from afar. This is a better alternative to cropping your photos and compromising their quality.

A simple photoshoot idea can completely change your work. It can lead to more inspiration and more creative ideas. More importantly, it can make you a braver photographer. The more often you leave your comfort zone, the quicker you’ll be able to develop your style. If you do this consistently, imagine what an impact you’ll have on your own work.

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Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.
Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.

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