Portrait photography or portraiture in photography is a photograph of a person or group of people that captures the personality of the subject by using effective lighting, backdrops, and poses.

A portrait picture might be artistic, or it might be clinical, as part of a medical study.

Frequently, portraits are commissioned for special occasions, such as weddings or school events. Portraits can serve many purposes, from usage on a personal Web site to display in the lobby of a business

Portrait photographs are typically taken by skilled professionals; however, amateurs also take portraits.

Most professionals use special equipment; however, this is not stipulated. Portraits are often taken outdoors.

A portrait is generally not a snapshot, but a composed image of a person in a still position.

It often shows a person looking directly at the painter or photographer, in order to most successfully engage the subject with the viewer.

Because of this, portrait photographs have been and are often used for profile pictures on social media websites (e.g., Facebook).


portrait shot list

What Is A portrait shot list?

A portrait shot list is an organized document that provides direction on how to take photographs of a person.

The portrait shot list is essential in the planning of any portrait photography session. Usually, photographers need to have an idea of the final results to be able to achieve them. And a shot list is what helps you to do it.

A portrait shot list lets you organize your ideas and come up with a plan for the session.

It will help you decide what equipment and settings to use. Moreover, a good portrait shot list is what saves you from running out of creative ideas during the session.



What Is A Portrait Shoot In Photography?

For the purpose of this article, I will use the terms “photographer” and “client” when referring to a person or business that hires and pays for a portrait session. I will use the terms “subject” or “model” to refer to the person being photographed.

TIP: If you want to truly master portrait photography, be sure to check out my free video training!

Every portrait shoot has a purpose. Whether it is a family portrait, a headshot for business or personal branding, or a promotional image for your company’s website, every portrait shoot is created towards one goal.

Your job as a photographer is to identify that goal and work with your client to achieve it.

For example, if your client wants headshots for her business website and social media pages, she might ask you to create images in which she appears confident, professional and engaging.

The goal of the session is defined by the client and communicated to you so that you can plan your shoot accordingly.

The more planning you do before the shoot day, the easier your shoot day will be. I like to plan my sessions about three weeks in advance so that I have ample time to prepare.

What Is In A Shot List?

The shot list is the heartbeat of any video production. It is the basis for, and the blueprint of, all that happens on set, and it is one of the most important documents in your business.

It’s so important that, if you don’t already have a shot list, then you should stop reading right now and go create one. It’s a task that should take you 15 to 20 minutes at most to complete.

The shot list is an overview of what will be shot on a video shoot and as such it’ll vary depending on what kind of shoot it is. For example, if you’re shooting a product demonstration there will be shots of the product from many different angles (front, back, top), but you won’t have very many shots that are more wide angle or full body.

If it’s a corporate interview then there will be many shots of the person being interviewed in different poses and situations, but not as much need for close-ups or footage of their immediate environment.

If you’re creating a shot list for yourself then use pictures from similar videos as inspiration to make sure that everything is covered. If you’ve got a client then give them the finished video and let them know that they can change anything they want to.

Start Your Photography Shot List

When you’re starting out, it can be hard to know what to do first when you’re creating a shot list. You know you need great images for your product photography and marketing, but where do you begin?

Totally new to product photography? No worries. We’ve got a simple guide for beginners that will get you up and running in no time!

First things first. What’s a shot list?

A shot list is an itemized list of the photos you’ll need to take for the products you’re selling. It often includes the order that you’ll take them in and details on any other info they need to include.

For example, one of your photos might show the front of a product, but also list a “top view” and “three-quarter view” so that viewers can get all sides of the item at once.

In many cases, this isn’t even something that you write down — it’s just something that’s known between photographer and manufacturer. But if it’s your first time through the process, writing out a shot list can help keep you organized as well as make sure everyone knows what needs to be done.

Brand Portrait Photography Session Shot List

It’s a good idea to sit down and make a list of all the shots you’d like to get for your brand or product. This will help guide you in your preparations, and it will also help you think about what you’re going to do during the session.

First off, let’s talk about some of the shots that are in your “must have” category . These are the shots that everyone needs in a business portrait. They include:

Headshot – This is a close-up shot of your face and shoulders (not really full body). It should be an unobstructed view of your head and shoulders, with your face clearly visible. 

I usually ask people to remove their sunglasses if they’re wearing them. This shot is also called an executive portrait, a portrait or a headshot.

Full Body Shot – This is a full-length shot of your entire body. Most executives want this shot because they want to use it for their bio on the company website or on their business cards.

It can also be useful for positioning purposes — if you’re wearing a pinstripe suit and you want one leg forward, this is the shot that’ll work best for that purpose.

When Should You Use A Shot List In Photography?

A shot list is a document used when taking photos for a client. It will detail all the shots that are required by the client and any location details that may be needed to help you find the right shots.

Shot lists can also be referred to as a “visual script” or “visual brief”. They are all terms used to describe the same thing.


Shot lists are very useful in making sure you don’t miss any important shots that might be needed by your client. They also ensure that you get all of the shots requested by the client in the right order and in the right location.

The shot list should contain all the relevant details of your shoot including:

  • The dates, times and duration of the shoot
  • The location of the shoot
  • The outfit and make-up requirements for each model
  • The names of each model and their agencies
  • Your contact details

You may also want to include extra information like:

A weather forecast for your location which could affect your models make up or outfits.

How long should my shotlist be?

This is entirely dependent on how much detail you need to include on it. Some photographers prefer a short visual script with only enough information for them to know what they’re doing during their shoot.

How Can A Shot List Improve Your Photography Work?

I’m sure you’ve heard of a shot list before. Maybe you even make one of your own for every shoot. But do you really know why and how it helps?

Is it just a bunch of random shots that you want to get or is there more to it than that?

Shot lists are often used by photographers to help them get the exact type of images they want in the limited time they have with their models or clients. It serves as a checklist of sorts, but also allows the photographer to remain creative while still making sure every important shot is captured.

A good shot list will include information about each specific shot such as the name, location, model, direction, posing and clothing required. This allows the photographer to more easily visualize what each shot should look like when he or she is on set.

They can be used for any type of photography, whether it be glamour, fashion, portrait or boudoir. They allow both photographers and their clients to stay organized and get exactly what they want out of the shoot.

Shots lists shouldn’t just be thought up on the spot during a shoot either. They should be made ahead of time so that no time is wasted.

How To Create A Photography Shot List

A photography shot list is a kind of outline for your shoot. If you have never made one before, it can seem like a daunting task.

However, as you will see in this article, they are easy to create and can save you time and money.

Thing To Consider Before Creating Your Shot List

The number one thing to think about is: What is the purpose of this photography shoot? What message are you trying to convey? What do you want the audience to feel or think when they look at your images? Il

If there is some meaning behind your shots, try to make that known by keeping it in mind as you create your shot list.

Another thing to think about is how many shots are going to be needed for the photographs that will be needed for the project. If you are attempting to put together an entire photo essay or even just a photo portfolio, this may take some thought.

You may want to break down the task into smaller sub-sections with individual shots within them. This can help keep things organized and easier for you and anyone else who will be involved in the shoot.

It may also be helpful to map out where each shot will take place. 

Quick Tips For Photographing With A Shot List

This is a guest post by my friend, photographer Jeff Carlson. He’s been shooting photos for me since the beginning of Shopify and he’s also the author of a book called “Take Better Photos”.

I asked him to share his top tips for shooting a product photo shoot with a shot list.

“Shooting with a shot list” doesn’t mean you have to have every single item photographed individually. What it means is that you should have an idea of what you’re going to photograph before you get your camera out.

The more photos you take, the less time and money it takes to get a great product photo shoot. Every photographer has their own way of doing this, but here are some things I do:

When I arrive on-site, I like to look at the product in person first. You don’t want to be taking pictures of something that looks nothing like what you saw online.

When I’m looking at the product, I’m thinking about different angles and how they would look from above or below – what would make the best visual impact? Are there any parts of the product that could be removed or taken off? Is there anything else that could be added?

What Is Included In Portrait Photography?

It’s important to know the difference between commercial and editorial photography. Commercial photography is used for advertising and marketing, while editorial photography is used in magazines, newspapers, and other forms of media.

The requirements of each are a bit different.

Commercial photography encompasses many styles and types of photography. Corporate head shots are one type of commercial portrait that companies can use for their employees or as part of a brochure or website.

Business clients may also want to use products in their photography for an advertisement or trade show display.

Another type of commercial portrait is one that shows off the company’s newest facility or equipment. Many photographers do this type of photography on a contract basis for companies as needed.

The photographer will then be hired when the company needs more photographs taken for another project or advertisement.

Editorial photography, on the other hand, is done for magazine articles, newspaper articles, and books. Editorial portraits tend to have a less formal feel than commercial ones.

For example, editorial photographs usually show people in everyday situations such as attending school or working at their jobs.

The main purpose of editorial photography is to illustrate the article it is accompanying with pictures rather than words. Most editorial photographers work on assignment by contacting publications they would like to work with.

How To Create A Shot List In 6 Easy Steps

A shot list is a list of all the shots you will want to get in your production and it is a vital tool for any art director or photographer. By creating a shot list you are able to create an effective plan of attack that will help keep you organized, on track and on budget.

A shot list will also ensure that you have all the footage needed to make your project shine. This is essential when time, money and resources are limited.

Write down all the shots you can think of that you need in order to tell your story. Even if it means writing down shots that seem obvious or redundant, this will help you identify each scene’s purpose within your film before moving on to the next step.

Now go through each shot and think about how it contributes to telling your story.

Ask yourself what else needs to happen in order for this shot to be effective? Do I need sound? B-roll? An interview? Once you’ve determined what else needs to happen for each scene, place them in order on your list, from most important (or difficult) to least important (or easiest).

You’ll also want to estimate how long each scene should take by marking down time codes (00:00:01 or 00: ).

Photography List The Things You’re Shooting

Today I’m going to share a personal experience and show you some tips. I’ve used this very technique in my own photography endeavours and it’s worked well for me.

To start with I’m going to tell you a little about myself. I am an amateur photographer who has been shooting for 4 years now.

I like to shoot using manual settings and have been practicing using different cameras and lenses too. I don’t claim to be very good at photography but I do love it!

I also love writing about photography, so when I get a chance (and when the mood takes me) I put together blog posts that others can find useful.

On my blog, which is called Tangerine Dreams, (http://tangerinedreamsphotography.blogspot.co.uk/) I recently posted an article about the kit you should use if you’re just starting out in photography or if you’re looking to improve your skills; it was based on a kit that would cost around $1000.00AUD at most.

In that post I gave some tips on how to save money by buying second hand cameras and lenses, using a simple tripod or even using other peoples equipment!

Photography List The Individual Shots You Need

So you’ve got a specific type of product photography in mind, and you are ready to get the ball rolling. You might think it’s going to be super easy, but the truth is that taking the pictures can be the easiest part.

It’s what comes next that can cause you a lot of stress.

Trying to combine all your individual shots into one image is not always an easy task. It takes a lot of time, effort and diligence.

Don’t worry though, because we have created a photography list for you that will guide you through this process. It will help focus your efforts and make sure that everything goes smoothly.


Product Photography List:

You need to decide what size images you need for your product pages before anything else. This will ensure that all your images are compatible with each other and fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.

More importantly, it will help determine how much work goes into creating the final image you want to put up on your site.

You may think that one image will do it all, but this is just not true when it comes to product photography. You really do need different shots from different angles if you want the finished product page shot to look natural and appealing for your customers.

The more shots you have, the easier.

Portrait Photography Techniques

The portrait photography techniques that I want to share with you here are the same ones that I use when taking photos of my own daughter.

I’m not a professional photographer, but after having tried many different ways of framing, lighting and editing the photos of her, I’ve managed to come up with some portrait photography techniques that are good enough to make me look like a pro.

Tonal contrast is a good way of giving your photos added depth and meaning. By tonal contrast, I mean highlighting the differences between dark and light areas in a photograph.

The human eye focuses mostly on contrasts in tones (also referred to as tonality), so if you want your portraits to be immediately noticed and appreciated by your viewers, you need to apply this technique wisely.

The idea behind this kind of composition is pretty simple: the closer the subject is positioned to the camera and background, the more pronounced will be the difference between them in terms of tonality. If you want accents, choose a background that contrasts with the subject’s clothing or skin tone.

For example, if you shoot a black-haired person against white walls and furniture, there will be fewer tones present in the photo; thus it will not have as much impact or appeal.