You could spend hours studying the elements of photography, but who has time in today’s fast-paced world? Your primary concern is making your next outing a success.

What can you do to improve your chances of the perfect shot? Here are five tips for elevating your next photoshoot.

1. Dress for the Occasion

Beauty comes in various shapes and sizes, and trying to hide your natural self can result in a less aesthetically pleasing shoot. Instead of baggy, think flowing fabrics that flatter your shape.

Men do best with a simple solid-colored or plaid shirt in a lighter shade. Babies and children also stand out best in solid, light colors, although a graphic tee with a cute saying is okay.

What should you avoid? Overly baggy clothes that hide your shape — sweat suits are cozy, but they don’t photograph well. Bright neons or bold, distracting patterns likewise draw the eye to your attire, not your subject. Leave the neon in the closet for your next glow party.

2. Define the Perfect Backdrop

What mood or feeling do you hope to evoke with your photograph? The right backdrop sets the tone. If you want the scene to feel upscale, you can employ upscale elements. For example, setting your photoshoot against a backdrop with classic cars can be effective, especially if those cars are highly sought after. Take inspiration from what’s available.

You can also let mother nature fill in your background if you’re going for a more earthy feel. For instance, you might choose a mountain scene with dramatic cliffs in the background. Snowy days make for beautiful contrast — nearly everything stands out against white. Forests, too, lend appeal, especially if you live near Oregon or Northern California’s towering redwoods.

3. Pick the Right Time of Day

The right lighting matters. While you can manage indoor shoots with studio lamps, you should time your outdoor photoshoots to take maximum advantage of shade, shadow and background beauty.

Are you photographing plants, perhaps to illustrate a botany text? If so, the bright midday sun is your best bet. The rays shine through the branches and leaves, creating natural highlights and shadows.

Shooting just before sunrise lets you take advantage of building lighting and the brightening sky. You can also shoot into the sunrise to create artistic lens flares that balance your subject. The “golden hour” strikes about an hour before sunset, using light rays to play with shadows for dramatic effect.

4. Strike Many Poses 

The best photographs often happen spontaneously. They capture the magical emotion of the moment. It’s hard to recreate genuine feeling in a shoot.

The solution? Keep striking poses. Get playful with your shoot. Pretend you’re genuinely enjoying a day at the beach, in the mountains or shopping at your local farmer’s market. If there are other people in the frame, interact with them. Forget those stiff, posed family portraits — drape an arm around your beloved or hold up your toddler.

5. Keep Firing

You can drive yourself mad trying to line up the perfect shot, and then find one in your roll that you took on the fly that looks much better. Keep your hair on your head and forget perfection.

Your best approach is to keep hitting that button and sorting your photos later. Besides, you probably don’t have the ability to judge which shots worked and which didn’t while on location — the sun’s glare makes it impossible. Think of the fun you’ll have going through your roll with your subject, selecting your favorites.

Elevate Your Next Photoshoot

Photography is an art form. Fortunately, you don’t have to learn how to draw or paint to master it. Elevate your next photoshoot using the tips above. You might still need practice to make perfect, but you can enjoy every step of the journey.

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