How To Deal With Anxiety Before A Photo Shoot

Kevin Grieve

The moments leading up to a professional photo shoot can be nerve wracking. Even for the calmest of creatives, the underlying pressure of performing well and delivering high quality work remains a mental concern during the stages of preparation.

In fact, whether you’re a photographer, videographer, model, creative director or even assistant on a photo shoot, you can experience anxiety and apprehension. Anxiety and nervousness can be a crippling feeling for professionals. Instead of focusing on the aspects they can control, photo shoot anxiety often gives creatives a sense of worry about the final outcome and the idea that they will not be able to satisfy a client’s expectations.

In order to help you realize the normalcy of having anxiety before a shoot, we want to give you 4 tools you can use to effectively manage and combat these pre-production jitters. These are the ways you can deal with and eliminate anxiety before a photo shoot.

Make A Plan

The most important part of any professional project is to ensure that you have created a detailed and outlined plan. The planning process is a key aspect of assembling all types of production and is usually done as a collaboration between the members of the team.

Depending on your role during the photo shoot, you may need to lend a hand in the overall schedule, creative direction or technical aspects of the project. Anxiety before a photo shoot is rooted in the idea that you will not perform as expected or that you will forget something that is vital to the project. In order to diminish this, it is best to create a list of items that are essential to your creative role.

For example, if you are the photographer your list could include aspects such as:

  • Creating a mood board that expresses your creative direction and vision
  • A shot list for the model to reference during the session
  • A gear list including all of the equipment you will be using
  • A team list that has everyone’s role and contact information
  • The schedule of starting and stopping times as well as breaks for lunch, etc.
  • Any notes or expectations given to you by the client
  • The number of images you will need for each look, location, etc.

With this list, you now have an outline of tasks to accomplish prior to the photo shoot. Use this as a checklist to keep yourself on track and lower the risk of forgetting something on the day of the production. Making lists is not only a great way to keep you organized, but is a method that helps to  alleviate mental pressure about the tasks you have to complete. With a plan, you will surely begin to lessen your feelings of anxiety.

Take Care Of Your Physical & Mental Health

The second aspect of dealing with anxiety before a photo shoot is to take care of your physical and mental well being. Although you may have feelings of restlessness, you need to accept these circumstances and attempt to overcome them to the best of your ability.

Overcoming anxiety starts with taking care of yourself. This means that the days leading up to a professional shoot, you could engage in activities such as:

  • Getting enough rest and sleep each night
  • Fueling your body with healthy food
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Eliminating any kind of toxins such as alcohol
  • Exercising
  • Meditation
  • Creating mental space by journaling or outwardly expressing your feelings

By actively participating in some or all of these activities, you are setting yourself up for a healthy physical and mental well being. When you take care of yourself, you have a better understanding of how to engage and interact with the world around you. By placing your personal needs at the top of the list, you will go into the photo shoot as a healthy, energized and mentally relaxed individual.

Manage Expectations

Having feelings of anxiety before a photo shoot are based on the pressure caused by expectations.

  • As a photographer, you may have the expectation to please and deliver high quality work to your client.
  • As a model, you may the expectation to be charismatic, emotional, intriguing and dynamic in front of the lens for the photographer.
  • As a creative director, you may have the expectation to create an environment on set to employ the vision and mood of the project.
  • As the assistant, you may have the expectation to effectively aid the photographer and showcase your competencies and talent.

Each team member on a photo shoot has a certain level of expectations and responsibilities that they place upon themselves. While holding yourself to a specific standard is neccessary, placing too much pressure can effectively cause stress and anxious feelings.

In order to continue to reduce your anxiety, you need to effectively manage your expectations. Remember that you should only be concerned with what you can control. Perform your job with your best abilities and trust that you have done everything needed to ensure a successful shoot.

By understanding that all you can do is try your best, you will let go off any insurmountable and insane pressures you have placed upon yourself. In return, you will be combating your anxiety and start to feel confident in your abilities.

Communicate Effectively With Your Team Members

The final tip to dealing with anxiety before a photo shoot is to have open and honest communication with your team members.

If you are having feelings of nervousness or stress while preparing on set, be open with your team about what you hope to create during the production. On a creative set, everyone understands the level of apprehension that comes with producing a project. Instead of harnessing your anxiety, don’t be afraid to speak up about any questions or concerns you may have.

Here are some examples of how you can effectively communicate with your team members:

  • If you’re a photographer, you can communicate with your assistants about your vision, what equipment you will need for each shot and how they can help you adjust your lighting as needed.
  • If you’re a model, you can speak with the creative director or photographer before you start shooting to better understand the mood and direction of your posing and physical expressions.
  • If you’re a set director, you can check in with each crew member to ensure they have everything they need to perform their job.

As you can see, having an open space for dialogue and communication will allow the team members to feel comfortable, relaxed and understood in their creative environment. Being able to ask questions and address concerns, is a definitive way to combat any misunderstandings or anxiety for the crew members.

While you may always have feelings of anxiety, nervousness or stress before a shoot, remember that this is completely normal during any professional project. Everyone has their own ways to diminish and eliminate feelings of anxiety, but we hope these 4 tips will help your prepare before your next photo shoot. By planning, taking care of yourself, managing expectations and effectively communicating with your team, you will be able to deal with and tackle your feelings of professional anxiety.