How to Prepare for a Glamour Shoot: Expert Guide

New Zealand-based fashion photographer Anand Kulkarni shares expert tips on preparing for a glamour shoot. From what to discuss with your photographer to dressing and posing ideas, here’s everything you need for making the best of your session.

How to Prepare for a Glamour Shoot
Model: Taylor Marlene (@taylor_marlene7) (Agency: @viviensmodelmgmt); Photographer: Anand Kulkarni (@anandkphoto); Makeup: Amy Chen (@amy_mystudio)

If you’re looking for a reason to feel glamorous and confident, a personal photo shoot is a great idea. Not exactly a new trend, but glamour shoots have been gaining more and more popularity over the years. And in the era of body positivity and self-love, women (and men for that matter) all over the world are capturing themselves in their most stylish, sensuous selves.

In the 6 years I’ve been in the field of portrait and fashion photography, I’ve done countless glamour shoots. So if you’re planning to go for a glamour or boudoir shoot, here’s a complete guide on the process and planning.

What is Glamour Photography

A glamour shoot is essentially a portrait shoot but for the sole purpose of glamourizing the subject. A shoot that flatters the subject by creating an aura of fantasy, emphasizing their beauty or sometimes even adding a hint of borderline erotica.

sexy shoot glam photoshoot how to poses
Model & makeup: Luna Rioumina (@luna.rioumina); Photographer: Anand Kulkarni

Who is are Glamour Shoots for?

A glamour shoot is perfect for anyone who wants to see themselves in the best light possible, no pun intended. It helps to build confidence in oneself and getting comfortable in one’s own skin. There is no particular age or occasion, and no hard and fast rule as such.

However in my experience, when people approach milestone birthdays, they want to remember themselves in a glamorous sense. My clients love glamour shoots for this very reason. The thing I like most about my work is the opportunity to work with talented people to create impactful imagery.

How to Plan Your Glamour Shoot Posing tips
Model: Taylor Marlene; Photographer: Anand Kulkarni; Makeup: Amy Chen

Should you plan a glamour shoot if you don’t “look like a model”? Absolutely! Working with a professional photographer for your shoot will make you fall in love with yourself and really boost your confidence!

How to Plan Your Glamour Shoot

The process of doing a glamour shoot is all about working with the photographer for achieving the client’s vision. I start off by creating a mood board with clients by looking up images for inspiration. This could be from various sources and media. As a photographer, I’m inspired by the many wonderful examples of fashion and portrait photography we see. I’m also inspired by the works of Lindsay Adler, Jake Hicks and many more.

The next step is to try and acquire outfits that would work best with the inspiration shots. Meanwhile I would research on what lighting styles I would use for the shoot. My clients and I then would engage a suitable makeup artist for the shoot.

What should you not do before a photoshoot
Model & makeup: Nikita Trehan (@trehannikita); Photographer: Anand Kulkarni

Of course, there is some amount of retouch up work done in beauty shots. Typical retouching would involve skin healing, skin tone correction, dodging and burning to smooth out skin and color grading the entire shot.

So here are all the steps in detail:

1. Select an Idea or Theme

The first step is to think of a glamour shoot idea that suits your person needs. Start by thinking about what you love, and add your own personality to it. Latest trends in glamour shoots include vibrant colors, vintage style shots, and minimalism. Some timeless styles and classy photo-shoot ideas would be film noir, old Hollywood and boudoir.

However you can go for something trendy, whacky or whatever you want to achieve. Should you pick a theme like 80s photo-shoot or old Hollywood photo-shoot? Definitely! If you love the feel of those themes, then your personality will add the flair.

Preparing for your Glamour Shoot before photoshoot
Model: Taylor Marlene; Photographer: Anand Kulkarni; Makeup: Amy Chen

2. Find the Right Photographer

The next step is choosing a photographer for your personal shoot. Research in your local area, scout social media. A photographer’s work should speak for itself. Look for a photographer who specializes in the style of shoot that you would like.

Try to match your vision with your photographer instead of looking at their pro equipment or a large studio. As much as one would like to believe, the equipment does not make a great photographer. A seasoned photographer can make you look fabulous with the most modest of equipment.

3. Plan the Shoot Details with Your Photographer

Discuss with the photographer and try to get your vision across. It is essential to bounce your ideas off the photographer. It can help them research and also most times, improve upon the ideas to bring your vision to fruition.

Here are some more things you’ll need to plan:

How long should a photoshoot last?

There is no rule as such, but an efficient photographer can get the right shot faster once it is planned. A perfectionist will spend the extra time to really refine the shot.

Best time of day to plan a glamour shoot?

In my experience, sometime mid-morning as everyone is most alert and energetic during that time.

Best weather to plan a glam photoshoot?

This completely depends on the planned shot. For studio work, there is no weather restriction. For outdoor work, photographers have different preferences. However, an overcast and windless day is preferred.

How to select the best location, and should you go indoors or outdoors?

The location would be dependent on the theme of the shoot.

What’s the right amount of retouching the photographer should do?

Ideally, the subject should still be recognizable in the finished shot. A good way to judge is how friends and family view the shot. Unique features like scars, moles, and the general shape of the body should not be manipulated.

Select an Idea or Theme glamour shoot photographer
Model: Matilda Foley (@matildafoley_) (Agency: N Management @nmodelmanagement_); Photographer: Anand Kulkarni; Hair & Makeup: Jodie Elizabeth (@rougebeautynz)

4. Find the Right Dress

What you wear for a personal photo shoot depends on the theme you select. I personally prefer my subjects to wear solid colors and patternless outfits, so as to not distract the viewer from the person in the shot. The subject should always be the main focus in a portrait of any genre.

5. Style the Shoot

Based on the theme of the shoot, you can plan how to style it using props, lighting, photography techniques or whatever is necessary for visual storytelling. For example, in an old Hollywood style shoot, you would add perhaps an old Fresnel head lamp into the scene. The most challenging part of my work is creative lighting for portraits, but the whole process is a lot of fun, and is very fulfilling.

6. Plan Your Hair & Makeup

It is highly recommended that you get your hair and makeup professionally done for the glam shoot. Your makeup artist may suggest ideas depending on your theme. Or you can create a board of ideas for hair, makeup, accessories and props to inspire your makeup artist and hairstylist.

The makeup you use for outdoor photo-shoot may differ for what you need for indoors. This is usually determined by a talented makeup artist, and based on the theme. From a photographer’s perspective, for a studio shoot, one should avoid overly shiny skin.

Expressions for Beauty Shoots
Model & makeup: Nikita Trehan; Photographer: Anand Kulkarni

7. Plan a Healthy Diet in the Coming Days

You don’t need to go on a strict diet to look good in a glamour shoot. I would recommend a healthy lifestyle leading up to the shoot. This helps with maintaining good skin and body tone. Remember, the purpose of the portrait is for you to look back at it and see yourself in the best light.

Preparing for your Glamour Shoot

Once your theme and date is set and the outfit has been planned, you can focus on preparing for your glamour shoot.

Before your Photoshoot

Should you eat before a photoshoot or skip your meal?

A small meal a couple of hours before the shoot is fine. It is of more importance to stay hydrated, before and during the shoot.

Should you get a facial before a photoshoot?

Not always, but it can help with healthy looking skin.

Glamour shoot preparation checklist:

  • Moodboard, or a collection of inspiration images.
  • Makeup moodboard, or a collection of makeup looks to go with the theme of the shoot.
  • Outfits ready: these should be finalized before the shoot. The photographer should ideally have seen these beforehand, and know about the materials, etc.
  • A good night’s sleep is extremely important.

How to prepare your body for revealing clothes or lingerie shoot?

Use a talented makeup artist to even out skin tones in exposed areas. Stay hydrated to avoid unhealthy looking skin.

What should you not do before a photoshoot?

Staying up late, alcohol consumption are a strict no-no.

What to expect on the day of the photoshoot?

Expect to be directed by the photographer, multiple makeup/hair touchups. A good photographer will make you feel comfortable and talk you through the entire process.

Posing for a Glamour Shoot

So now let’s come to the main part – how to pose like a model. The best way to look good in photos is to remember to bring your personality to the shots.

Basic Posing Tips

A basic rule is, “If it bends, bend it.” To create a nice flow in a shot, the subject should ideally bend their joints. Angles make a shot look more interesting. The photographer should be able direct you to position your body in a pose that suits the mood and theme of the shoot.

So what should you do with your hands? Keep the hands “soft”, meaning don’t tense the hands. If you’re having trouble figuring out what do with your hands, then add a prop to hold in a gentle way. Flowers can help. If you’re looking for an easy way to pose, a simple thing that works is gently playing with hair. It adds a soft ‘feel’ to the shot.

What is Glamour Photography
Model: Taylor Marlene; Photographer: Anand Kulkarni; Makeup: Amy Chen

Expressions for Beauty Shoots

Now, let’s talk about getting the right facial expressions for a photoshoot. Research shots similar to the ones you want. However, try not to replicate the expressions if you are uncomfortable doing so.

Feeling Confident

Many people think they don’t look good in pictures. So if you’re not confident about your face or body, here’s how to feel good about posing. This is where a good photographer will engage you more in the shoot, lighten the mood and boost your confidence. You will feel much more confident when you are given positive feedback.

Posing in Bold Outfits

Another challenging thing can be trying to pose boldly in revealing clothes without seeming overly sexual. The trick is to now overstep your comfort level. A well placed hand or prop can retain the boldness of the shot, keeping it sensual, but not sexual.

How to Look Tall and Slim in Pictures?

Extend your legs as much as you can, with pointed toes, keep legs together and cross your knees to create a triangle. You can also extend your arms upwards to lengthen the frame of the body. Twist your torso to slim it.

Glamour shoot preparation checklist
Makeup & model: Caitlan Thompson (@caitlanthompson__); Photographer: Anand Kulkarni

Lighting Tips for Taking Flattering Pictures

Soft lighting using a large light modifier, such as a large umbrella, is usually the go-to method to create flattering shots.

How to Select the Best Pictures?

Look for images that make you feel confident and great about yourself.

Based on an interview by Shilpa Ahuja.

Read next: Fashion Photography Tips & Hacks: Pro-Photographer vs. Blogger

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