Preparing for our shoot

What my shoots are like

My shoots tend to be loose and casual (as opposed to rigid or formal). While I provide as much direction & feedback as necessary to get great shots, I’m also open to your ideas and experiments. In fact, I much prefer shoots to feel like we’re playing than actually working (and they usually do).

If we’re not having fun, then I’m not doing it right.

Besides getting great photos, your comfort while we shoot is a priority. I may encourage you to try new things in order to get photos that aren’t like all the others you’ve ever had taken, but I will never pressure you to do anything you’re uncomfortable with.

You can read a bit more about me and my philosophy on the home page of this site.

What to wear (wardrobe)


Whatever you want to bring for our shoot that matches the look you desire is fine. Beyond whatever you want to be photographed in, I would also suggest a selection of casual attire and some sporty/fitness options if you have and feel comfortable shooting in them. Also a hoodie, etc as options.


If this is a casting-related shoot or a collaboration, we will have previously discussed different wardrobe options to fit with our theme — or had them visible in the reference images we’ve exchanged.

Collaborations are free, but tipping is acceptable.

Regardless of what type of shoot it is:

Anything that will help change your look (hair ties, hats, etc) is good. I lean towards solid colors (black and white tend to go with everything) and try to avoid any busy prints unless they match the look you are going for.

Wearing different or striking colors is fine depending on what types of photos we are shooting. However, splashes of color tend to work better in portraits than clothing that overpowers what is supposed to be a picture of a person (versus pictures of clothes that just happen to have people in them).

But again, bring what you want to shoot with and we’ll work with what you have. Also, it’s better to bring too many things (options are good) vs. not enough.

Please keep this in mind:

  • Coordination: Outfits should be thought out and consideration should be given to style/color coordination.
  • Wrinkles, etc: Special care should be given to avoiding undesired wrinkles, pet hair, or other things that may detract from your photos.
  • Footwear: Unless you are certain your feet will not be photographed, the same consideration should be given to your footwear as the rest of your wardrobe. Unless worn, dirty or damaged footwear is an intended part of the look we are going for, your shoes should be in good condition and coordinate with what you are wearing.

Packing it all up and carrying it around:

For maximum convenience, you will likely want a rolling type suitcase or bag or backpack of some type that allows you to carry at least a couple of wardrobe changes as well as anything else you want to have with you (water, mirror, make-up…).

Changing outfits:

I have a pop-up portable changing room for changing on location (see image at right). It’s quick, easy, discrete and super convenient.

Meeting on location

Because my shoots (in most cases) involve working on location (outside), I ask that clients park near me whenever possible. I will provide you with a pin to my location on Google maps shortly after I arrive at our prearranged shoot location.

Parking in close proximity to each other provides us with a “base of operation” and helps us to avoid wandering to find each other (especially if we’ve never met). It also provides me with the opportunity to leave some gear in my car and my clients with the opportunity to leave some of their wardrobe & accessory options in their car (which we can circle back to pick up if necessary). It is also a more convenient way to discuss our shoot when it’s over, account for the other person’s welfare, and say goodbye when we’re ready to depart.

In addition to the above reasons, one of the first things I do when arriving on location is to scout out good places to shoot and then plan a general trajectory for us to move from one spot to the next. And this always involves starting close to where we park and meet.

Please be on time

Our appointment time is our start time, not your arrival time.

Please understand that our appointment time represents our start time. It is not intended as your arrival time. If you anticipate not being able to start shooting at our appointment time, please let me know at the earliest possible time.

Please do not wait to tell me you are going to be late when we are already scheduled to begin.

  • Please prepare in advance
  • Please consider traffic
  • Please consider construction
  • Please consider how much gas you have

Please do not schedule a shoot for a time that you cannot commit to being ready to begin shooting at.

Los Angeles (Santa Monica) location details

When I’m shooting in Los Angeles, I often use the following location as a starting point:

Clover Park in Santa Monica
2450 Ashland Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90405

If we have decided on this location, please meet me over by the fire station side of the park next to the tennis courts.

Park on the street near the fire station. The cross streets are 25th and Ashland.

Please do not drive to the Clover Park parking lot (doing so will put you in a less convenient place to meet and require you to wander across the park to find me. 

I will be parked on the street over there and can give you my exact location on the day of our shoot.

Reasons I like this location:

  • It’s a pretty quiet low key park with good scenery and a decent starting point. Anywhere else we go will be nearby unless we choose otherwise.
  • There is always (street) parking available
  • There are public restrooms in the park
  • It is a good starting location from which to reach other places (walking or driving)
  • The scenery varies from one part of the park to another

About shooting in natural light

Conditions will vary. We do our best to work with whatever we are presented with. I can often shoot anywhere there is a combination of sunlight and shade. However, there are obviously some things that we can’t control (much)…

• There may be wind that messes with your hair.
• Although you will mostly be shooting in shaded areas, it may be hot.
• Finding the best places to shoot means walking from one location to another in search of the best lighting and background combinations. And in some cases, it means driving — which also means finding parking.
• Some parts of how I work involves experimentation. Sometimes it works out great and we’ll be happy we did it. And sometimes we’ll have “a learning experience”.

Posing and guidance

Whether you have a lot of experience or none at all, I will provide all the guidance & direction necessary to get us the kinds of shots we want. If you don’t have much experience, I’m good at working with people who have very little experience or are simply shy.

You don’t really need to know much to work with me, but the more prepared you are, the better.

If you don’t have much experience with posing, I would suggest studying how some of the professionals do it on Instagram and elsewhere. Pay special attention to what they do with their arms, hands, and body. Having said that, I do provide guidance as we go in order to capture you in a desirable way.

Facial expressions

These are a big part of portraits. Try to practice different “looks” in the mirror so that you have an idea what they feel like when you do them.

Sexy, mischievous, flirty, happy, energetic are all looks you should feel comfortable with. As well as mouth open, mouth closed, and showing teeth poses.

We start by talking (not shooting)

After we meet, I typically spend about 10 minutes discussing how I work and what to expect from our shoot. Besides being informative, it’s also a means to get to know each other a little and reduce any potential anxiety before shooting. We won’t begin taking photos until you’re ready.

When we begin, I will start by shooting you in whatever you happen to be wearing. As such, you are encouraged to arrive wearing something you don’t mind being photographed in or arriving early enough to change.

Preparation (what to bring & what to do or not do)

Energy & hydration

Do bring some water and any snacks to keep you going, but avoid anything that will stain your teeth.

Bring make-up (if necessary) & a mirror

You’re going to want to know how you look. You’re also going to want to keep an eye out for smudged make-up etc. If you are wearing make-up, please bring something to help reduce shine and sweat.


Please don’t wear sunglasses before our shoot. Sunglasses cause light sensitivity and lead to watery eyes and squinting.

Rings & extra jewelry

Wearing jewelry for your photos is fine. But it should be a deliberate choice. Avoid wearing anything that ends up being a distraction in your photos unless you truly want it visible in all of your photos.

Necklaces that hang and rings have a tendency to go “off-center” and can be distracting in photos unless one is mindful of keeping them centered.

Beware deodorant that causes streaks

Consider using a mineral stick or a form of deodorant that will not leave streaks on your tops when you are frequently changing attire.


Please make sure your fingernails are well-manicured. Please avoid wearing any bright fingernail colors that will distract from your photos. Natural, neutral or French manicured nails are best.


If your teeth are yellow, please consider having them cleaned and/or whitened before our shoot. If you’re a smoker, please take a critical look at your teeth.

Hair on your head

If your hair is prone to flying away or getting frizzy, please consider bringing a product to help keep frizzy & flyaway hairs to a minimum.

If you have long hair, please bring something to wear your hair up or back.

Hair on your face

Hair on your face will be visible in your photos. Please plan accordingly.

Hair on your legs

If you plan on having the bare skin of your legs visible in photos, understand that any hair on your legs will be visible. Please plan accordingly.


Please bring chapstick, lip gloss, lipstick or anything else needed to maintain your lips.


Please bring moisturizer or anything else needed to maintain your skin.

Clothing (wrinkles, pet hair…)

If you have pets, please bring a lint roller or brush or something to remove pet hair.

Please bring safety pins if you need to have the fit of your clothing (loose pieces, etc.) adjusted while shooting.


Beyond the footwear you bring to be photographed in, please bring shoes, sandals, or flip-flops that you are comfortable walking in.

Get some rest

If you want to look your best, it’s important that you are well-rested. Please consider staying in the night before our shoot. And if you want to avoid looking unnecessarily bloated, please avoid drinking alcohol for at least 24 hours before our shoot.

Please be sober


Length of shoot

If this is a paid booking, we will have already discussed shooting length.

If this is a collaboration (and/or casting), I would plan for the shoot to last a minimum of 2 hours with the potential for it to last 4 hours or more.

This, of course, depends on how we’re both feeling. But, often, if we both have the energy and desire, I’m happy to shoot until we’re tired.

Touching base before our shoot

My goal is to text you the day before our shoot to touch base and then the morning of our shoot to check in (unless you check in with me first). These check-ins are not only intended as reminders, but are also opportunities to discuss any last minute ideas or possible issues.

Sometimes my schedule is crazy and sometimes technology fails. If for some reason you don’t receive a text from me, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me in one way or another.

After our shoot

I understand that you will be eager to see your photos as soon as possible. My goal is to provide you internet access to your photos from our shoot (via a shared Google Photos album) within 7 days of our shoot. Often, the turnaround time is the following evening, but is dependent on my schedule.

Sometimes, due to intense scheduling (or when I am traveling), there may be instances where it may take me more than 7 days to get you your proofs. I will communicate this to you if I think this will be the case.


You will receive all the images from our shoot as 5 megapixel jpgs (2,592 x 1,944 pixels). Although greatly reduced from their original size, photos at this resolution provide enough detail for 8 x 10-inch prints (although I don’t recommend it).

Other than having an “auto levels” (auto tone) adjustment applied in Lightroom, your proofs are provided straight from the camera without any retouching or watermarks. Although they may look good, these images are considered unfinished and are not reflective of their final quality. In some cases, the difference between original images and adjusted ones is extreme.

Although you will have access to all of your photos, I would appreciate it if you would least let me adjust the colors and contrast of any photos you feel like sharing before you share them (this won’t count as retouching).

The reason I ask is because my reputation is dependent on the quality of the work I do and unprocessed photos that are shared with the public do not reflect the final quality of the images I provide.


I will provide a minimum of 5 retouched photos from our shoot (regardless of how few photos we take). Beyond that, I will provide 1 retouched photo for every 200 *usable we take beyond 1,000 photos (1,200 = 6 retouched pics, 1,400 = 7…and so on). These photos will be whichever *you choose and will be provided to you at maximum resolution and image quality. *Usable photos are those photos left after unsatisfactory photos (blinking, out of focus, etc) are discarded.

Picking your best photos

Please keep in mind that people are often terrible at picking the best photos of themselves. This is because people have a particular way they like to see themselves which is often disconnected from how the rest of the world actually sees them. The “flaws” and imperfections that seem so obvious to us are rarely seen by others as flaws. Always remember that the things that make us unique are far more interesting and beautiful than the things that are just like everyone else. Cherish your differences.

I recommend that you get assistance picking your best photos. I’m also happy to help in this regard.

Delivery of retouched photos

My goal is to provide you with your retouched images within 7 days of when you select them. Depending on my schedule, I can often do this sooner. But again, sometimes due to intense scheduling (or when I am traveling), it may take me longer than 7 days. And again, I will communicate this to you if I believe this will be the case.

Beyond the images you choose to have retouched, I may select other images I find appealing and retouch those. If I do, I will be happy to provide you with copies.

Additionally, if you end up wanting more photos than the 1-in-200 ratio provides, please let me know and I will do my best to process those for you as well. It just might take me longer to get to them.

Communication is key

Communication is one of the most vital aspects of working together. Please keep me informed of any potential changes or delays with regard to our shoot and I promise to do the same for you.

  • If you are going to be late, please say so.
  • If you are thinking about canceling for any reason — even if you are not sure you will ultimately have to — do so as early as possible.


Ok… Thanks for reading all this. I understand it’s a lot, but based on experience and feedback, it helps.

Zero Dean

PS. Some additional information that may be helpful can be found on my site. This is a good place to start:

What to bring to a photo shoot