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Why Failing to Plan Your Photo Shoot is a Great Idea

I got some lovely feedback about an image I posted on Instagram the other day:

I replied by explaining that the image was "half accident, half planned" and realised that this was how I achieve most of my creative results!

There is often embarrassment attached to 'accidental results' because it denotes a lack of planning. Does this mean I have been lazy in my process? What if people think I am not professional? What if people think I don't know HOW to plan??! After all...what's that saying: "Fail to plan, plan to fail" or something like that. Oh the shame!

But what if we viewed a lack of planning as an important part of the photography process? I'm not saying don't plan anything. Looking at Pinterest for ideas of what you like, chatting with me about your hopes for the shoot, agreeing the best place to meet etc. are all vital too. But we definitely don't need to plan the details of every image.

Here are 3 reasons why a lack of planning can be a help, rather than a hindrance in portrait photography:

  1. You're a person and people often have fantastic ideas to contribute if you work in a collaborative and open way. Yes, some of this collaboration happens before the shoot of course, but on the day of the shoot I like to encourage you to keep the ideas coming (and I will do the same). We can try out new ideas as we think of them. Some will work, some won't and that's fine.

  2. Planning everything is impossible and if I try, I get very stressed when things don't 'work out'. Things change; you may have to bring a different outfit than planned, the unpredictable British weather, the venue closes your favourite part of their grounds?! Often unexpected changes can work better than our original ideas.

  3. It's where the magic happens. I believe that portrait shoots should be fun and relaxed, not least to help you to feel relaxed, but so that we allow that space for those experiments and unexpected changes to bring exciting and interesting results!

I wanted to share some images from a recent portrait session with Ben. I approached Ben to discuss a shoot, after a fellow photographer recommended him as a model. I had some ideas for shots, mostly involving the autumn leaves.

We did use the beautiful autumn backdrop for some of the photos, but we got some unexpected beautiful light that I wanted to capture and so headed to some open space nearby.

I also wanted to practise my new recent love of freelensing (taking your lens off the camera and moving it around to pick a focus point, leaving the rest of the image beautifully blurred).

This is a very 'hit and miss technique, meaning that planning is tricky as I learn this new type of photography.

Ben also suggested the cemetery as a possible location and as we had enough time, we went to check it out. As I had never been, I hadn't planned any ideas but used the leaves that caught my eye to create some final images.

If you also believe that planning every last detail ain't all it's cracked up to be, then we might make an awesome team. If you need professional family photos, headshots or portraits for any reason, let me know.

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