Whether you’re an aspiring photographer ready to get to work or you’ve just started freelancing and you need to expand your portfolio to land prospective clients with greater ease, your portfolio is of massive importance at this point in your career. That being said, new photographers face two unique challenges: not having enough work to create an entire portfolio and generating photo shoot ideas that will help them create the work they need to help them get photography clients.
Fortunately, coming up with great photo shoot concepts isn’t as hard as it sounds. In fact, there are tons of awesome photo shoot ideas that you can draw inspiration from to help you improve your portfolio and start generating income. Let’s dive into some creative photo shoot ideas that will make becoming a professional photographer an achievable goal as you work to boost your portfolio.
In this guide, we will take a look at some photoshoot ideas like:
- Fun outdoor family photo ideas
- Delicious food photography
- Capturing everyday life
- Nature photography (up-close, minimalist, and beyond)
- Seeing the small picture with macro photography
- Crafting stunning images with double-exposure photography
- Realistic commercial photography
- Unconventional maternity photo shoots
- Challenge yourself with pet photography
- Move things around your home to show off your interior design photography skills
Before you get started: Tips on building an effective photography portfolio
Leveraging the photo shoot ideas in this guide will go a long way in helping you create a portfolio that compels clients to work with you. However, great photo shoot ideas won’t suffice on their own. It’s important that you know how to take this information and work in your favour. While we won’t dive too deep into this topic as we want to make sure we’re focusing on awesome photo shoot ideas, here are a few helpful tips that you should know before you work on building your portfolio.
- Establish a theme: What type of photography are you looking to shoot professionally? What themes do you wish to explore? Establish a body of work that’s in your desired niche so that you’re appealing to those types of clients.
- Only advertise your best work: Your portfolio should be a representation of who you are as a photographer, which means that you want to put your best foot forward by only displaying your best work. As you continue to shoot, some photos might look better than others, so it’s best to update your portfolio regularly to demonstrate your skill and progress.
- Adjust your portfolio for potential clients: Are you a photographer looking to work in several niches? If so, one portfolio won’t be enough. Instead, create portfolios for each type of client you’re looking to work with. This will ensure you have all of your best work ready to go no matter who may approach you. Additionally, try to put the best pieces on top as potential clients might not go through your entire portfolio.
- Focus on live and online portfolios: If you’re going into a live interview or meeting a client in person, a live portfolio might be a better choice. Meanwhile, if you have a photography website or if you search for client work online, having an online portfolio is a must. Work on building both so that you’re ready for any opportunity that comes your way.
1. Fun outdoor family photo shoots
If you’re a photographer interested in shooting portraits or working primarily with people, having plenty of shots of real people is important. One of the best creative photo shoots ideas to look into are fun outdoor family photo shoots. Capturing the joy of life as it happens can result in some stunning photos, especially if the scenery behind the group you’re shooting is equally as beautiful. But what does this mean? Maybe you want to get a few shots of a family happily having a picnic together by a lake. Perhaps you’re looking to capture a family as they play together, whether this means throwing a frisbee or catching a ball. On the other end of the spectrum, you could just be looking to get a more natural family portrait.
No matter which idea appeals most to you, these types of outdoor family photo shoots show off how well you can photograph real life and people as well as how well you can adjust to outdoor conditions to get the best shot.
2. Delicious food photography
Looking for photoshoot ideas that might land you a spot on a website or in a book? Look no further than food photography! If you’re someone who loves to cook (or you’re someone who loves to go around and review restaurants in your area) as well as loves to design photography backdrops, this type of photography is certainly a fun one and one where you’re likely to be able to find a ton of work (or even work for yourself, such as shooting for your own blog).
But what are some great photo shoot ideas for this type of photography? You could always decorate a background with placemats and good lighting to get up close and personal with specific dishes, take photos of people enjoying certain meals, or even add some excitement to the mix by taking photos of foods as they’re being prepared and cooked in a kitchen studio. When it comes to food photography, don’t be afraid to get creative. Show people that you don’t just take high-quality photos but ones that are inventive, aesthetically pleasing, and compelling.
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3. Capturing everyday life
Staged photography allows us to control the narrative, the presentation, and everything about the final photo. But sometimes, taking the time to simply stroll around with your camera and capture whatever catches your eye can be a wonderful way to get some amazing natural light shots. Have you ever watched someone do something that evoked certain emotions in you? Have you ever been somewhere where you spotted two things that lined up perfectly? No matter where it is you go, chances are that you’ve come across photo opportunities where you missed out on the chance to take a shot worth taking. Bring your camera around with you to capture everyday life and boost your portfolio. If you're looking for pointers on where to find the best places to photograph in London, we've got you covered!
4. Nature photography (up-close, minimalist, and beyond)
Nature photographers aren’t limited in regards to their selection of awesome photo shoot ideas. One great idea is minimalist nature photography. Some spots in nature are very isolated. The various creatures or life in them, even more so. A wonderful example of this is a lone tree in a clearing. Of course, this isn’t the only idea that you can leverage. Maybe you’re someone who likes to get up close and personal with nature, capturing small droplets of water, seeing the detail in a tiny creature’s eye, or even seeing how various forms of life live in the way a human eye can’t.
Explore nature’s secrets and you will definitely find some shots worth putting in your portfolio.
5. Seeing the small picture with macro photography
Continuing with the above, there are those who are intrigued by miniatures of all sorts. Macro photography generally compels photographers to capture tiny forms of life, whether this be a fly or a flower. However, it doesn’t stop there. For the photographer looking to go above and beyond, you could construct your own scenes using miniature models and figures and snap images of those. You could also take smaller items that are used for another purpose and incorporate them into your work (like a figure climbing on staples resembling a ladder).
If your photography is more artistic in nature, thinking outside of the box is essential to building an effective portfolio.
6. Crafting stunning images with double-exposure photography
Double-exposure photography is extremely popular in this day and age. Often, people superimpose images of their own portraits over stunning backgrounds of nature or the stars. However, there’s really no limit to what you can superimpose in order to encourage the audience to feel a certain emotion. If you’re someone who likes exploring more complex emotions, you could superimpose a photo of a dancing couple over an abandoned house using a photo editing software, for example. While double exposure does take a little more skill on your part, it’s well worth it if you’re looking to land clients in need of these types of pieces.
7. Realistic commercial photography
Becoming a commercial photographer means being able to control everything going on around the product that you’re shooting to create the perfect ad. This normally all happens in a product photo studio, but what happens when your client wants something more authentic? Seeing people using the product as intended or engaging with it in a more natural way might draw as many customers as some of these more “perfectly shot” ads. You could try to take photos of people riding their new bikes to get this type of shot. Just make sure you use a photography model release form if you're using human subjects in your commercial photography. You could also, as suggested in the food photography section, take pictures of people using certain food products as they eat a meal. If you're looking for more tips on how to shoot and edit great photos for e-commerce, we've got you covered.
Even though natural might not always translate to perfect shots, you might just capture something for your portfolio that encourages the clients you work with to see things in a different light.
8. Unconventional maternity photo shoots
Parenting is hard work, but maternity photos might not always see it that way. Knowing how to capture traditional maternity photos and couples photos where parents pose with their future child is essential if you are this type of photographer. But having a little fun with it can give other parents some ideas as to what they want to do and why they should work with you. One fun maternity shoot idea you could use is having parents put together essential children’s items to represent later. Another humorous idea is to have the men pose with the women in a similar manner.
Always mix things up as this will help you stand out from your competition and show potential clients that you can be full of ideas, fun, and flexible. Although serious maternity shots are what many mothers will go for, they want to work with someone who is laid back and makes every shoot a good time.
9. Challenge yourself with pet photography
Furry friends are as fun to work with as babies. Both can be challenging in their own right. The good news is that finding pets to snap pictures of is easy, but you might struggle a bit with finding ideas that will help you get the right shots (or keeping them still enough to do so). Do you like photographing cats? A very popular photo shoot idea is to place a bit of cat food on a glass surface to get them to stay there and shoot from underneath. You could also snap photos of them when they’re relaxing in the sun using an outdoor photo studio. Some great dog photo ideas are photographing them while they’re at play, mimicking regular photo shoots, and so many more.
10. Move things around your home to show off your interior design photography skills
Homes are always being sold, and knowing not only how to photograph but design the interiors of homes to attract homebuyers is a very marketable skill. That being said, you might be limited on homes you can shoot. One idea is to take your own living space, move things around to make it more picture-perfect, and shoot those when the natural light is streaming in (or if your natural lighting situation isn't the best, why not learn how to fake natural lighting in photography).
Focus on a theme and try building your interior around this. For example, in this Redfin article we were featured in, you can discover how to transform your living space into a hygge haven that inspires warmth and comfort during the winter months.
If you have a friend or relative who has been looking for some design help, you can get even more pictures for your portfolio this way. Until you have a large enough portfolio to go professional, these ideas can help you shoot what you need for the time being.
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