Writing a brief for the first time can be a daunting prospect, particularly if you have not commissioned photography before. This clear, handy guide will help you navigate what you should include in your brief and explain why it’s important to have your ideas in one place ahead of the shoot.

The more thought invested and developed into a brief, the better the shoot will be. If you think about your message and the focus of the shoot (pardon the pun!) it will help the day run smoothly.

What you need to know

Consider these questions to help look at the bigger picture, and then drill down to the detail:

What is the purpose of the photo shoot?

– It sounds obvious but being clear at this early stage will help keep you on track later.

What do you want to say?

– What is the story, the narrative or your message? This will help give your shoot a sense of flow and meaning. Discuss ideas with you team and commit them to paper.

Who are you appealing to?

– Make sure you have your target audience in mind and aim your message towards them.

What do you need at the end of the shoot?

– For example ten complete looks, a shot for each season, a day to night lookbook? Be specific to achieve your objectives and keep you on track.

What is your budget?

– This is very important. Be realistic, as this will have an impact on what you can achieve. Speak to your team and your photographer about what is involved and what it will cost. Cover all the details.

When is your deadline?

– Allocate enough time to allow everyone to achieve what is needed (alternative suggestion)

Where will the images be used?

– You have to know if the images are to be used in print (a magazine, postcards or lookbook), Instagram or a website. Each medium has different requirements, so the photographer will need to know this ahead of the shoot.



I would also suggest creating a mood board. This is a really good visual reference for ideas and to communicate the style, look and feel, and help steer the shoot. The photographer and the whole team will often refer to the mood board during the shoot to make sure it’s on brief and to make adjustments where necessary. If you are working with a graphic designer or art director, they tend to create layouts or scamps. These are page layouts designed ahead of the shoot where temporary images are dropped in to give an impression of the final work. This can be a great help and useful for people who are new to thinking visually.


I believe a good photographer should make the shoot process clear and enjoyable. That’s why I work closely with my clients and share my expertise openly. I’m not afraid to challenge a brief if necessary, then discuss and make adjustments that will create the very best images.

Follow me on Instagram for a peek behind-the-scenes at my shoots, and visit my website to find out more about my work.