20 Surprising Photoshoot Ideas

By Matic Broz, editor-in-chief of Photutorial covering stock media, Adobe, and design. He founded Photutorial while finishing his PhD in computational biosciences.

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Photoshoot ideas - thumbnail

Did you run out of ideas and inspiration, and now you don’t know what to photograph?

In this post, you’ll find 20 best photoshoot ideas, both indoor and outdoor.

Finding fresh inspiration isn’t all that hard. You may need to look around yourself a bit, go outside, use a lens that gets barely any attention, hire some models, or go into the woods.

You can photograph just about anything.

Don’t feel pressured that every photo needs to be perfect. It’s okay to take bad photographs. It’s also okay to take awful photographs!

It’s all a part of learning. Do you think you can handle it?

Ready, set, go!

1. Discover Reflections

Photoshoot Ideas - Reflection
Photo by Vitalis Hirschmann on Unsplash

You will need:

  • a reflective surface (water, ice, metals, …)

Photographing reflections might seem a tad derivative. While there really is a good deal of reflection photos online already, that shouldn’t turn you off.

I want you to find new sources of reflections. Even if you’ve seen a thousand photos like that before, you haven’t tried it yourself – and that is what counts.

So, don’t be afraid to get down on your knees to catch a reflection in a puddle, a lake, or even car hoods.

As a bonus, go out after a rain. You’ll find reflections everywhere; moreover, the light right after the storm is often dramatic, making your photos a lot more interesting.

2. Frame Your Main Subjects

Photoshoot Ideas - Frame your subject
Photo by Moritz Kindler on Unsplash

You will need:

  • main subject
  • a foreground element
  • (optional) shallow depth of field

Foreground objects, as I’ve already mentioned, add depth to photos. Crucially, properly conveying the three-dimensionality of photos, makes them stand out.

To frame your subjects, place something, anything, in front of the lens. Of course, you don’t want block the view.

Often, we use shrubbery, rocks, fences, and even tree trunks to add some sort of vignette to our images.

When you find a scenery to photograph, you will have to use proper camera settings. Set your aperture value to the lowest possible to achieve a shallow depth of field, f/1.4 to f/2.8.

This way the foreground will appear blurry, while the main subject will remain in focus.

As a result, the main subject of your photo will be more distinguishable from the rest – and this is one of the basic of a great photograph.

3. Photograph Silhouettes

Photoshoot Ideas - Silhouette
Photo by Josh Millgate on Unsplash

You will need:

  • a bright light source (the Sun, Moon, bright light, window in a dark room)
  • an interesting subject
  • ahigh-contrast scene

Have you ever tried photographing a silhouette?

This one is an outdoor photoshoot idea, which will make you rethink everything you knew about exposure.

Photographing silhouettes works the best at sunrise or sunset when the Sun is low on the horizon. During this time, called golden hour, the light is diffused, the shadows are soft, and contrast is low.

This is the perfect time to photograph silhouettes.

The light source doesn’t need to be the Sun, because any bright light source will work – window in a dark room or street lights.

and expose for the sky/background, while keeping your subject dark.

Place your subject of choice between yourself and the light source.

Silhouettes are also trending in stock photography, so you might even make some money with it – and this brings me to my next photoshoot idea.

4.Create and Sell Stock Photos

Photoshoot Ideas - Stock photography
Shutterstock Screenshot for Photoshoot Ideas

You will need:

  • Some spare time
  • A couple of ideas
  • Everyday objects

Have you ever thought about making some money with photography?

Stock photography is an excellent way to start selling your photos and build your first stock portfolio.

However, best-selling stock photos are rarely those of spectacular landscapes, but rather photos of everyday objects and businesses.

For the most success, check the most popular stock images, trending uploads, and demands. Photograph local events and anything that might symbol current world affairs.

You might also want to shoot landmarks, everyday objects, and people performing their daily activities.

Also, don’t forget events, holidays, various patterns, and backgrounds.

Click here to learn more about how much you can earn with stock photography.

5. Self-portrait Photoshoot

Photoshoot Ideas - Self portrait
Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva from Pexels

You will need:

  • a reflective surface (mirror, glass window) OR
  • a tripod and remote shutter

We, photographers, are so used to being behind the camera that we forget what it’s like to be photographed.

This way you will not only have fun taking good or silly photos of yourself, you will also get to better understand how to photograph others.

For example, you’ll learn which poses work the best, how to comfort your model, and how to set up better lighting.

So, without further ado, set the timer, step in front of your camera, and start shooting.

This way you’ll get the necessary experience of what’s it like to be photographed.

6. Capture the Season

Photoshoot Ideas - Photograph seasons
Photo by Arno Smit on Unsplash

It’s not easy to convey the time of the year in your photos if you try to go beyond colourful autumn leaves, snowy meadows in the winter, blossoming flowers in spring, or sunny beaches in the summer.

When you avoid the stereotypical photos, you find a real challenge, which pushes you towards creativity that is oh-so-important in photography.

Additionally, if you get good at this, you can return back to the Photoshoot Idea #4 – Sell stock photos and make some good money off it.

7. Document Change Over Time

Photoshoot Ideas - Photograph change
Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Have you ever thought about how much nature changes during the year, although we don’t see any change on a daily basis?

Long-term photography projects won’t only keep you busy for several weeks or even months, you’ll also learn how to recognize and embrace change.

A few photoshoot ideas for you to try:

  • Document pregnancy,
  • Photograph the same scenery over the year in different seasons,
  • A baby-animal growing up.

In the end, you can create a beautiful collage or a photo series.

8. Take Candid Photos in an Urban Area

Photoshoot Ideas - Candid photos
Photo by Yuan Thirdy on Unsplash

The best plan for candid photography is to have no plan at all.

Ask a friend to be your model for unposed photos and head out to a market place, a city square, or just wander around the streets and look for interesting light.

Additionally, candid photography is highly profitable for selling stock photos, BUT there are two rules:

  • Photos where faces are not visible sell better,
  • If the person is recognizable, you need a Model release.

9. Water Drops

Photoshoot Ideas - Waterdrop
Photo by Daniel Kux from Pexels

You will need:

  • A tripod,
  • Sturdy surface,
  • Water,
  • Neutral or colourful background,
  • (Optional) Other liquids or a water dye.

Good water drop photos look like something out of an expensive slow-mo camera, although they are surprisingly easy to capture.

Fill a plate with water, mount your camera on the tripod, and compose your shot. Focus your camera onto the centre of the plate, and use an eyedropper to make the drops.

To successfully freeze the drop as it levitates above the plate, use fast shutter speeds, such as 1/500th of a second and faster.

10. Photograph Emotions

Photoshoot Ideas - Emotions
Photo by Cata on Unsplash

Photographing emotions is probably the most challenging photoshoot idea.

When you photograph objects, you simply aim your camera and press the shutter. But how do you convey emotions in a photo?

Here are some ideas for emotions, listed from the easiest to the most difficult to photograph: sadness, happiness, love, anger, surprise, fear, friendship, loneliness, jealousy, trust, anticipation.

11. Try Black and White Photography

Photoshoot Ideas - Black and White
Photo by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash

Common wisdom among photographers is that to properly expose photo in post-process, you should temporarily convert it to black and white. When there’s no colour to distract our brain, we focus on the highlights and shadows only.

When you photograph intending to convert the photo to black and white later, you will be forced to pay more attention to the shadows and highlights. This won’t only be a fun photoshoot idea, but also a valuable one.

12. Photograph Detail

Photoshoot Ideas - Detail
Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash

You don’t have to always capture the whole subject in your photograph.

Zooming in and only focusing on a small detail creates intriguing, intimate photos that are scarce in numbers, so they may attract more viewers.

Experiment with close-ups and extreme close-ups – and who knows, you might end up becoming a macro photographer.

13. Photograph a Walk or a Hike

Photoshoot Ideas - Photograph a Hike
Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

If you’re out alone, try landscape or macro photography, on the other hand, if you take someone (a model) with you, try photographing them as you walk.

Often people are uncomfortable with being photographed and that really shows in the photos, but a walk might change that.

As you walk, both you and your model will relax, and your photos will look better.

14. Professional Photoshoot for Your Pet

Photoshoot Ideas - Pet photography
Photo by Alvan Nee on Unsplash

I know, I know, we all have thousands of photos of our pets, but those are snapshots we made with our smartphones as we watched our pet do something cute or dumb.

Photograph them as if you were planning a photoshoot with a person. Get the lighting right, prepare a custom background, groom them, and pick up your camera. Later you should also post-process the photos and make them look professional.

15. Capture Motion

Photoshoot Ideas - Capture motion
Photo by Dimon Blr on Unsplash

Life’s never static. Motion is all around us, but we do everything to avoid it, to keep our images sharp.

What if you took advantage of that? Capture the movement of your subject and let it tell a story.

For this photoshoot idea, you will need a tripod or anything that will hold your camera still, and a moving subject. Unless you do it at night, you will also need ND filters, so you don’t overexpose your photos.

The longer you keep the shutter open, the more blurry your subject will appear; thus, it’s crucial that you take several consecutive shots with different shutter speeds to experiment what looks the best.

16. Change Your Perspective

Photoshoot Ideas - Change your perspective
Photo by Arnold Dogelis on Unsplash

99% of the time we photograph from an eye-level. While there’s nothing wrong with that, a different perspective will dramatically change the way you tackle the photoshoot.

Try it both ways – shooting from above and below. For the latter, you just need to crouch or lie down, while shooting from above can get tricky.

Ideally, you would use a drone, but if you don’t own one, find something you can stand on. Large crates, balconies, or even roofs.

Doing so will train your brain to find composition ideas everywhere.

17. A Couple Photoshoot at Different Times of Day

Photoshoot Ideas - Couple photosession

If you only photograph once a day, you’ll only capture a fracture of the entire day. So, why not have several photo shoots throughout the day and then you can choose the photo that looks the best?

Alternatively, if you like more photos, you can create a collage or a photo series. 

18. Create a Double Exposure

Photoshoot Ideas - Double Exposure
Image by janrye from Pixabay

Technically speaking, creating a double exposure relies heavily on post-processing, yet, it’s still a photoshoot idea as it requires good planning and solid execution.

There are several possible combinations you can try. A very popular one is a portrait + landscape or cityscape.

19. Shoot Portraits Through a Window

Photoshoot Ideas - Shot through glass
Photo by YIFEI CHEN on Unsplash

Photographing through glass gives a vintage, nostalgic feel to photos.

For the best results, you will need a polarizing filter to control the reflected light and use a wide aperture to create a shallow depth of field.

You can even spray some water on the windows to make it look like it’s raining.

20. Photograph Rainbows

Photoshoot Ideas - Rainbow
Photo by Adam Bignell on Unsplash

Rainbows don’t only exist when the Sun shines in the rain. You can find them in waterfalls, raindrops, snowflakes, oil stains, etc.

It’s up to you to find them everywhere or even create them.

When you learn how to create a rainbow, you’ll find them everywhere.

Photoshoot Ideas | Conclusion

Hopefully, these 20 photoshoot ideas gave you inspiration to continue photographing and start new projects.

I designed them to be as educational as possible.


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