6 Tips on Prepping for a Holiday Photo Shoot


Thanksgiving is only one week away, can you believe it? 

So much to do, so little time so I think I’ll book two holiday photo shoots to add to the holiday madness…makes sense, right? 

I have to laugh as every Monday, Steve looks at me and asks “what’s on the agenda for this week?” and I usually send him a list consisting of a few events, errands we need to run and something random that he smiles at and says “ok, how can I help?”. He’s such a trooper;) 

This past Monday, I sent Steve our list of things including a few errands, vet appointment for Rosie, a work event, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Lights Festival Party (chocolate and holidays? Yes please!), a holiday apron shoot and a Christmas card shoot with Rose Photo. He looked at me, laughed and said “two shoots in one weekend? Oh geez Megan. How can I help?”. (Good thing he asked because I REALLY needed it). 

So I started creating my shot and prop list and we got to work with wrapping empty boxes for “christmas presents” and making Rosie a holiday headpiece for our first family Christmas card! Which by the way, if you’re still looking to book yours, Rose Photo is doing a special if you book by Thanksgiving you will receive 25 complimentary Holiday Cards with your session (talk about a holiday deal!). After a few trips back and forth to Target and a few rolls of tape later, I think we are all ready for a weekend full of holiday fun and photo shoots so I wanted to share my top tips for how to prep for your upcoming shoots below. 

Since starting the blog, I often get asked how I squeeze in times for photo shoots due to a busy day job and heavy event schedule. While squeezing is literally what I do since my days with sunlight are limited, I always make sure to plan very well ahead of time so I can make the most of the time I have at the shoot and try to knock out as many shots as possible;) I’m sharing my top tips for prepping for a holiday photo shoot below. 


6 Tips on Prepping for a Holiday Photo Shoot

Determine the purpose/need.

Are you shooting for a website? What products are you looking to feature? Are you shooting for a holiday card? What’s the layout of the card? Before the photo shoot it’s important to determine the purpose of the photos and what they are needed for. If you are shooting product, don’t get too caught up in the things around the photos because you want the main purpose to be focusing on the products. Also, what is your website layout? Do you need a few vertical shots for header images or horizontal? These are things to consider so you can make sure you get the shots you need.

Make a shot list.

These are key and your photographer will love you for it! Whenever prepping for a photo shoot, whether it’s for a holiday recipe tutorial or outfit post for the blog or a product shoot for Bon Aprontit,  I always make a shot list so I can stay make sure I get the shots I need and make the most of my time during the shoot. A shot list can be very simple or very detailed, totally up to you and your preference. For a recipe shoot for the blog, my shot list may look something like this:

Christmas Cookie Recipe Shot List
  • shot of ingredients
  • shot of cooking/mixing
  • 2 stylized shots of finished product
  • 1 overhead shot of product

but if I’m doing a product shoot for Bon Aprontit, it may look something like this:

Bon Aprontit Shot List
  • Shot of product on dress form (front/back)
  • Shot in red apron with holiday cookies
  • Shot in black apron with champagne for New Year’s
  • Shot of full body with face for holiday profile picture
  • 2 close up shots with presents for header images

In addition, I’ll pull inspiration shots from the internet so the photographer knows what angle and how close I want the shot. I realize these take extra time but I promise it’s worth it when at the shoot and trying to do many different things. This will keep your photographer shooting while you prep for the next shot.

Make prop checklist.

Speaking of making lists, (can you tell I have a thing for them?;)) after making your shot list go through and write down each prop you will need for each shot. For the Christmas cookies, I’m going to want a pretty holiday towel in the background, maybe a decorative plate, a holiday spatula and my ingredients. For the Bon Aprontit shots, I’ll need some wrapped gifts, champagne glass and bottle of champagne, confetti, popper, outfits to wear under the aprons that match,etc. These lists always help me make sure I have all my materials together for each shot and if I need to pick anything up I can run to the store beforehand.

Plan Poses.

I know, I know sounds crazy, right? but it’s actually quite simple and will save you from doing the same poses and smiles for every shot. Unless you’re a model and really know how to work the camera then these are a must for shoots with people involved. Here are examples of what your poses may look like: 

Bon Aprontit Shot List
  • Shot in red apron with holiday cookies (pulling cookies out of oven with full body in camera and decorating them with frosting with just mouth smiling in view)
  • Shot in black apron with champagne for New Year’s (full body shot with glass of champagne to the side)
  • Shot of full body with face for holiday profile picture (full body shot, smiling while making the cookie dough)
  • 2 close up shots with presents for header images (bottom half shot with presents next to feet and shot looking like wrapping presents)

It’s totally up to you how detailed you want to get but I have found that I can knock out 3 full blog shoots in about an hour or less with this method. It works! 


Paint nails and bring bracelets.

Yes please! Whether you think your hands are going to be in the shot or not, always have your nails ready and bracelets on hand. There has been so many times when the product was laying the way I needed it to or I needed to feature a certain product and it wasn’t fitting in the frame so I had to hold it or act like I was using it so it may sound silly but always come with your nails and arm bling ready!

Pack the night before.

When prepping for a shoot, it’s important to plan ahead because you never know what bumps you may hit the day of the shoot. For example when prepping for my apron shoot, I planned every shot, got way too many props (literally we almost couldn’t fit everything in the car) and happened to run out of hairspray when getting ready and had to leave in 10 minutes. Luckily, Steve always comes to the rescue and I honestly couldn’t do any of these shoots without him so he ran to get me more hairspray while I packed the car (he’s sure going to make a great husband, isn’t he?;)). I always pack my prop list the night before so the morning of the shoot I can focus on getting ready and getting on-site with plenty of time to setup. 

That about sums up my tops ways to prep for a holiday photo shoot, now off to pack and finish my shot lists for my two upcoming shoots this weekend! I can’t wait to share what I have in store for our first holiday photo card. Below is our photographer, Rose Kaz of Rose Photo‘s super cute card she created last year with her sister and if this doesn’t get you excited then just wait;) 

Rose Photo



For more on Rose Photo, visit her online at www.rose.photo and on Instagram @rosephoto.official 

Photography in Post by Iron and Honey

Space: DL Loft

Styled Shoot and Featured Items: White Elephant Designs

2 thoughts on “6 Tips on Prepping for a Holiday Photo Shoot

  1. Sarah Lagen

    This is a really cute post Megan! You always have the best pictures and photoshoots! I can’t wait to see what you do for the holidays, especially with the aprons!! Hope you are doing well girlfriend!

    xo, Sarah

    1. Megan | Blog Appetite Post author

      Thanks Sarah, you’re too sweet and can’t wait to share all the fun holiday photos;) Hope you are doing well too and can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeve for the holidays! P.S. let’s do drinks soon with Katie!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *