📸 Skai Chan Photography

What to Expect in All Phases of a Photoshoot?

Due to having different encounters, everyone has different expectations of photoshoots and photographers.

I fully believe in transparency to enable my clients to have as much information as possible to make their best decisions, whether or not to work with me. This will strongly aid in creating understanding to ensure that the entire photoshoot process will be smooth.

I seek the full trust of every client so that I can focus on getting the best photographs possible, instead of having to divert my energy into giving explanations. At the same time, I need my clients to be mindful of the entire situation, so that they will be able to bring the best out of themselves during the photoshoot.


  1. Professional photographers have choices of clients too It's not about being proud or arrogant but it's totally about sustaining the photography services. If a professional photographer doesn't filter his clients, there's a high chance that he will encounter issues in near future. Just one bad client alone can give major problems. Of course, it's impossible to eliminate problems, but at least, the majority of them can be avoided.

    When a professional photographer rejects a client directly or indirectly, maybe the client can do some reflection on his words or requests. The fact is no photographer will want to lose any project - for passion and/ or income.

    For example, I will turn down clients who make weird requests or can't communicate with me. I also avoid clients who don't appreciate photography.
  2. A booking fee is required to secure a timeslot for the photographer No matter how popular a client is, there's a chance that he will be changing his decision; he may decide not to hire a photographer or he may have found another "cheaper" photographer. The booking fee will ensure that the photographer will be compensated for blocking off that timeslot if the client were to change his mind.
  3. Ideas will only be given after the booking fee is paid As a bespoke photographer who customises photoshoot concepts for clients, it takes a lot of time and energy to do each planning or simply research for suitable locations.

    Some people will, intentionally or unintentionally, approach creative photographers and ask for ideas even when they aren't serious about taking up any of the photography services. Spending the effort on these people with no compensation will eventually hurt the photography business.

    After encountering such incidents many times, I have learned to refrain from providing ideas before the booking fee is received. After all, if a client is serious about hiring a photographer, he won't hesitate to make the payment.
  4. There are always photographers who can offer lower photography rates No matter how a professional photographer prices himself, there will be other photographers who will quote much lower fees. Good photographers will never want to undermine the values of their work.

    A good photographer is likely to put in his best effort, besides having the skill. If he were to price his services at a low rate, he won't be able to sustain his professional services for long because he may not be able to even afford the replacement of his spoiled photography equipment (due to wear and tear, instant damages or theft). He might as well find an office job instead.

    If budget is the biggest concern, a person can easily get a student or photography hobbyist to take up the project at an extremely low price.

    Some very experienced photographers may be able to quote low prices because of the (low) amount of effort they are going to put in. Therefore, it will affect the quality of pictures that their clients can receive.

    After all, you get what you pay for.
  5. Most outdoor photoshoot concepts are best to be done during the golden hour Being able to shoot during the golden hour will increase the chance of getting good photographs tremendously, especially for outdoor photography.

    There are two periods of golden hour every day - early morning and late afternoon. You may need to wake up very early in the morning for the morning golden hour shoot; therefore, be expected to make the extra effort to produce very good photographs.

    You should be glad if your photographer is advising you to do the outdoor photoshoot during the golden hour; many photographers do pack their timeslots to include less ideal hours of the day because there's nothing wrong with earning more money.
  6. An experienced and responsible photographer may not always give a definite answer Or rather, there may not be a definite answer or choice for certain things. For example, there are many good places for doing photoshoots in Singapore and if a client wants the photoshoot to be done at a place with greenery, there are many suitable parks and gardens available. Thus, the photographer may likely be feeding the client with as much knowledge as he can and leaving the final decision to the client.

    Frankly speaking, it's also to "cover his own ass" because there's a chance that the client will play the blaming game, especially for those "cheapo" who are always out to take advantages of others, including trying to slash the agreed price.
  7. Quantity of photographs differs a lot for every photoshoot Professional photographers would advise their clients to focus on the quality of photographs instead of the quantity (number).

    This is because even if you have 50 good photographs, any viewer has only this short attention span that any excessively good photographs, likely in the same outfit/ style, will become "normal" as well.

    Any photographer can easily promise a client a large number (quantity) of photographs. Eventually, the photographer can just deliver all the bad and similar photographs. Quantity doesn't speak much.
  8. The client's behaviour will affect the photo quality as well Photography requires communication and trust.

    If the client doesn't cooperate well with the photographer, the photographer won't be able to do his best. Instead of focusing on the photoshoot, the photographer may be spending time making guesses to avoid problems.

    For example, if the client refuses to share information and thus builds an invisible wall, it will make the photographer feels disconnected and fearful of saying anything wrong.
  9. Pre-Production (Portraits)

  10. It takes lots of time and energy to do planning The length of the discussion usually depends on the kind of photoshoot. If it's a Garden shoot (very casual portrait shoot), there may be only some basic things to discuss, such as venue, and thus is very simple.

    For a professional personalised shoot, the discussion includes way more factors, such as the concept, venue, time, outfits, props and makeup. You can count on luck to ignore any of these but you aren't always going to be lucky.

    On the other hand, although most photoshoots won't turn out exactly as planned, the chance of achieving good results for the well-planned ones will be much higher.
  11. Outfits must be shown to the team The outfit is an important part of the photoshoot.

    Most of the time, the models have to use their outfits. For a commercial photoshoot, the model may have to go, on a separate day, for the fitting if the outfit is to be provided.

    Since the outfit doesn't belong to the photographer, the model must show him and the team (eg. the makeup artist) the actual wardrobe. This is to make sure that the outfit suits the theme and background and to help the team to visualise the photoshoot and make appropriate planning, such as the colour tone of the makeup.

    Apart from having an unsuitable outfit, some common problems can happen when the model doesn't make the effort to share the outfit, such as realising that the selected outfit is being misplaced or no longer fitting at the very last minute. While many people are very fashionable, there are times when they do have fashion disasters; it's always better to get opinions from another person.
  12. Outfits can only be judged properly when they are being worn If a model simply leaves the outfit on the bed or hanger and snaps a picture, the team won't be able to judge the design properly. This is the reason why retail shops use mannequins to help customers to visualise the outfits properly.

    Of course, it's a very hard job for the model to wear all the potential outfits to do selfies; furthermore, most of the outfits taken are likely not going to be used eventually.

    Eventually, the effort would be worth it.
  13. Photoshoots may require thicker makeup The model may be required to wear thicker makeup for the photoshoot, especially for a high-end photoshoot using flash. Or otherwise, he or she may still look pale in the photographs.
  14. Production (General)

  15. Instant preview of the photographs will include very bad ones A photographer may need to take test shots at every new spot or angle, to test the lighting; thus, there may be many over or under-exposed photographs. For portraits, there will be many blurred photographs due to mistakes made by either the photographer (handshake during the use of slow shutter) or the model (big motion, bad expression, blinking of eyes... etc).

    It's too time-consuming to delete every bad photograph on the spot.

    Therefore, when browsing through the raw photographs during or after the photoshoot, there will be many bad and unglamorous photographs. The client should understand this and not feel disappointed seeing them.
  16. A professional photographer may purposely under or expose a picture This will ensure that some of the details will not be lost and can be retrieved during post-production.

    Therefore, the photographs may not look presentable before editing.
  17. The subject/ focus isn't placed at the centre most of the time Unless it's a very close-up portrait shot, the photographer likely won't place the subject or main focus right at the centre of the photographs.

    If you are very curious, go research "rules of thirds".
  18. Production (Portraits)

  19. Recommended location may not be usable on the day itself Very often, clients would request the photographer to recommend suitable places for the photoshoots. The photographer may give suggestions but is not obliged to physically check the location the day before the photoshoot.

    There's always a possibility that the venue is being used by the officials and other users or even having construction work on the day or during the arranged time of the photoshoot.
  20. The weather forecast is often inaccurate The weather forecast may state that the very next hour would be cloudy but it may rain instead. A cloudy day may turn out to be a sunny day instead.
  21. Setting up of lighting equipment takes time The more equipment is being used, the more time is required to set them up, especially for a high-end photoshoot using flash. The clients have to be patient.
  22. Testing of light for every change of position/ angle or to create different effect For every step the model moves or rotates, the amount of light hitting his or her face may change. Therefore, the photographer has to take some time to test the lighting again to ensure the best quality work possible. Whereas, the photographer may also wish to change the effect by playing with the lighting.

    All these require understanding and patience from the model.
  23. Different photographers have different styles of posing models Some photographers have specific poses in mind that they want the models to achieve, while others may prefer freestyle.

    Since I usually work with non-professional models, I usually go for freestyle posing as it's achievable by everyone. Moreover, this will help to keep my models looking more natural while involving their creativity, which will be more unique. Of course, I will guide them along and help them to make improvements.
  24. Expect only one good photograph out of 40-50 shots for portraiture The client should focus on the quality and not the number (quantity) of good photographs.

    It may take 40-50 shots just to get one good photograph, depending a lot on the client's performance. If the client isn't a professional model, he or she should set lower expectations, especially for a freestyle photoshoot.
  25. Good background doesn't ensure good photographs for portraiture During the photoshoot, the client may see a background that he or she loves. However, it doesn't necessarily mean that the photograph will turn out well when using it. For example, the angle of the natural light at that time may not be suitable for the shot.

    The client should take the advice of the photographer to ensure a more fruitful photoshoot by utilising the booked time on ideas that will likely work better.
  26. Production (Interior/ Real Estate)

  27. The pictures may include extra space of the interior at the edges As the pictures will have some distortion due to the use of a wide-angle lens, the photographer may have to capture a wider shot for editing in post-production. Therefore, anyone who is viewing the raw photographs at the back of the camera shouldn't be surprised.
  28. The photographer will take pictures as it is The owner of the house or the person in charge has to pack and arrange the furniture and decoration before the photoshoot session.
  29. Post-Production

  30. Some photographs are good but have major flaws There may be some photographs in which the model has given a very good expression, however, his or her pose is extremely ugly. Unfortunately, the experts will catch the flaws and thus the photograph is deemed as bad after all.
  31. The photographer is not obliged to send all photographs The photographer is not obliged to send any photographs that he deems not good enough. Every photograph can affect the photographer's reputation and every delivered photograph represents the photographer; don't try to sweet-talk or force the photographer into sending any photograph that he thinks is bad.
  32. Editing is to the photographer's standard Everyone has a different art sense, be it little or huge differences. It's difficult to meet everyone's standards and thus the editing is solely done to the photographer's standard.

    Nevertheless, a client hires a photographer because he or she likes the photographer's style, including the colour tone that his pictures would lean towards.
  33. Advanced editing is much more costly than basic editing Basic editing includes colour tone, exposure and cropping when necessary. Advanced editing includes skin retouching as well and it may take hours per photograph for a proper job; thus it's much more costly.
  34. Not all photographs can be edited with advanced editing It depends on the situation. Photographers and retouchers aren't magicians.
  35. Photographers and retouchers aren't makeup artists Many imperfections on the face can be removed during post-production; however, the job of professional hair and makeup artists can't be replaced.
  36. It takes time to do proper post-production work - wait! It requires a lot of time to do a proper post-production work. A professional photographer will also have other clients during the same period, for which he would need time to do planning and the actual photoshoot. Post-production work is always done when he's more available.

    Since I try to go through the photographs many times over days, even if I don't have any project on hand, it will take a few days to finalise the photographs. This is because going through the entire album is a tiring process and going through a few rounds of it can reduce or rectify errors due to exhaustion.
  37. It may take months for professional photographers to return the final photographs So far, all the professional wedding photography services that my family and friends have used take three months at the minimum to deliver the final photographs. Even a simple and quick ROM photography may take around two months.

    Often, I may be able to produce the work way faster since I only take up a limited number of projects; the benefit of not going for the mass market.
  38. Delivery

  39. Delivery is via weblink and not email nor hard copy The file sizes of the photographs are huge and can't be attached to emails. Hard copy, such as CD or thumb drive, is not environmental-friendly and will delay the delivery.

    Therefore, a web link will be generated and the client can download the photographs almost immediately once the post-production work is completed and at any location.
  40. Download the final photographs within three days Server space is costly and limited. Therefore, most photographers can't allow clients to take their own sweet time to download the photographs.
  41. Change of Mind

  42. Change in Privacy The copyrights of the photos belong to the photographer and he has the full rights to post them on his website. In good faith, he does provide a paid option for clients to maintain their privacy. The client has to inform him of the request right at the start of the discussion for the photoshoot.

    Since it takes tremendous effort to craft a new page for each photoshoot album, should the client changes her mind, she has to make compensation for the photographer for any changes.

You may be interested in:
- Quick guide to photography lighting
- How to plan your wardrobe with your photographer
- Unreasonable requests for photographers in Singapore
- Important checklist for hiring a photographer
- Why can't professional photographers take up cheap jobs

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