The Guide to A Killer DIY Photoshoot!


Hannah and I needed to put together our own mini photo shoot to change up our blog aesthetic to match our new design! We are broke college students and our blog budget is typically only large enough to cover hosting and ingredients for our next baking adventure. Professional photographer is NOT in the current budget. So, we brought along one of our good friends Ashley to be our visionary.

While the photos ended up coming out great, the process was a struggle and a half. So, I thought it would be super helpful to bloggers, seniors who don’t want to shell out the cash for pro cap and gown shots, and just anyone looking for something to do on a lazy May Sunday!


Keep reading to see my tips, must-have things to bring, and some of our photos!

Tips for the Perfect Photoshoot!

Location, location, location! What’s the vibe you’re going for? Is it fun, modern, chic, elegant, classic, etc…? Location will determine the type of photos you’re gonna be able to get. I wouldn’t recommend the Botanical Gardens for a edgy/grungy photoshoot unless that’s an artistic vision type of thing.

For example, my mom shot my senior photos in the botanical gardens near my house because the flowers were blooming and it was very girly which is very ME. My dress even matched some of the flowers too. Hannah and I shot our new blog photos in the city against some super vibrant and very fun murals in the art district. It was the perfect set up to brighten up our clean&modern blog design.

Soft smiles on this fine Friday for the win. Don't forget about #nationaldonutday and keep all the pretty pics coming!

Don’t forget about the sun. So, a lot of the time we were posing against colorful walls, which depending on the day can mean that the sun is out of your way on one street and you can’t see anything on a different one. Murals are best on overcast days, and filters can brighten them up very easily if that’s the vibe you want. The botanical gardens were so pretty around sunset, but you’ll need to make sure you take your photos with the natural light(or source of the light) in your face and to the photographer’s back.

Invest in a high quality camera. Digital cameras aren’t the innovative new invention they were in the early 2000s. Which is good news for all the broke college bloggers in the world! This means you can get a high quality camera for super cheap. Also, feel free to ask mom and dad to borrow the HD camera you didn’t even know they had for the afternoon! Here’s the camera that I love [it also makes a pretty good vlogging camera from what I hear] and if you’re a beginning photographer who isn’t ready for the intensity of a DSLR camera, here’s an option for you here.

Coordinate your outfit with the surroundings. Friend groups and duos: coordinate, but you don’t need to match. Family photos are cute, but I don’t really know if that’s the route you want to go on for cute friend photos or new pics for the blog you write together. If you’ll have a busy background, try and stay away from prints or bold colors. We wore solid colors and mostly neutrals for our city photo shoot and they came out really clean. Don’t sacrifice your personality though. I wore polka dots and a coffee shirt, so it can be done! I’d also think about doing a couple of outfit changes too and don’t forget about accessories. {I kept it very simple and used my pick 4 rule. Put on 4 pieces, and take one off.}

Go natural for the makeup and don’t try anything new! I love, love, love doing my makeup {even on a normal day}. So, for photos I already have a specific routine that works for me! I like to brighten up the eyes and cheekbones and play with a little bit of contouring to slim my face! But, I also like to keep it natural, so I won’t put on a ton of makeup, this isn’t Vogue and I want it to be as real as possible!

Photoshoot Checklist!!

  • Fully Charged Camera and SD card
  • an extra SD card
  • camera bag or place to keep your camera and other tech accesories like an SD Card
  • Water–especially if it’s hot
  • a duffel bag for all your clothes
  • Loose plan of where you want to take photos
  • Bring makeup to touch up halfway
  • Cash for food, parking, entry, etc.
  • A friend for moral support and to help you with poses
  • a good attitude!

Block out a really large span of time, because you’ll be there for a really long time especially with outfit changes and changes of scenery!

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

All of our pictures were edited with a combination of PicMonkey (100% free) and the Photos editor in the Apple software for Macbook! Here’s a before and after of one of our pictures! Some added brightness does wonders! What was your last photoshoot?


Here are some candids from my senior shoot in the Botanical Gardens near my hometown!


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DON’T FORGET TO LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW AND TELL US HOW WE’RE DOING. Send us some of your DIY Photoshoot pics on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #SwirlSocial!