4 Cures for Pre-Shoot Anxiety

I don’t know if any photographer feels ZERO anxiety before a shoot (including me!). With so many variables to manage, there’s no way to predict exactly how it will go, no matter how experienced you are. That might sound scary, but that’s why I’m here to help you overcome your pre-shoot jitters with some tried and true methods!

The fact is, a lot of the ins and outs of the photoshoot will be out of your hands, which is why it’s SO important to focus on what you can control and practice letting the rest go. If your pre-shoot routine usually just involves a lot of nervous sweating…. this one’s for you!

Here are four very tangible ways to take control of that anxiety:

Do Your Homework

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It’s really important to go into each shoot knowing as much as possible about who you’re shooting and what they’re looking for. Start by reviewing the planning session notes (if you have them) and/or looking through past emails. Once you have a good idea of who you’re shooting and what they’re hoping for, start pulling inspiration for the types of shots you want to capture. P

interest is a literal gold mine for this type of thing! I like to build boards for particular session types so that I always have a go-to when I need some fresh inspiration. Once you’ve got a good idea of the look/feel/style of shoot you want to capture, print out the pages so you have them as a reference the day of the shoot. By doing this work beforehand, you save yourself the stress of going into the shoot without any clear idea of the results you’re going for!


Make sure to have a clear game plan in mind before the shoot even begins. I like to gather my notes about the session that I got from the planning session, and then walk around and pre-visualize all of the areas and poses that I intend to shoot. I get furniture set up, or pull out what I’ll use later so that it’s easy to slide into place; for newborn sessions, I pull props, like headbands and wraps, ahead of time. Sometimes, if it’s a bigger group, I even draw diagrams for posing. This alleviates having to think on-the-fly and ending up with awkward moments when your clients are just waiting around while you figure everything out.



After you’ve finished visualizing, it’s time to gather your equipment and make sure it’s all working properly. This includes making sure your batteries are full, emptying SD cards, and testing the light in each location you’ll be shooting in. If I’m using lights, I’ll pre-light the scene either on a self timer or by having my studio manager stand in for me. By doing this before the shoot starts, you won’t have any surprises and will be able to move through the session with ease and grace. And your clients will thank you for it!

Arrive early

The last tip for curing the pre-shoot scaries is to make sure you arrive to your location at least 15-20 minutes early. This way you can have some time to gather yourself before the shoot begins. Making this part of your routine will help you make sure that your mind is clear and you’re ready for what’s to come. You can spend this time going over your plans for the shoot, or simply sit and enjoy some quiet time before the action starts. Either way, you’ll be much more at ease by doing this simple step.

Truth is, there’s no COMPLETE cure for pre-shoot anxiety, especially if you’re particular about your work, but I hope these are strategies you can implement into your routine to take the edge off. By taking the time to fully prepare for each shoot, I’m confident that you’ll start to see all your concerns let up as this habit takes hold.

I recently hosted an Instagram Live where we talked about this exact subject. If you missed the discussion, don’t worry – catch up below!

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