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Top 10 Tips to Planning Your Desert Photo Shoot

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

Congratulations! Your choice to invest in family photography is an important one. You’ve taken the first step by hiring a professional photographer who'll deliver images to adorn your walls and provide cherished memories for years to come. Your portraits are a celebration of bringing your family together, so it’s vital that you plan for the big day!

To help you, I’ve developed a top 10 checklist to guide you in the days leading up to your desert photo shoot:

1. Have a conversation with the photographer about the people who will be photographed in the shoot. Is there a specific purpose to the shoot?

  • First time the family is together in years

  • Celebrating a certain milestone (grandmother turning 70)

  • Child is off to university

  • Maternity (with siblings or without), etc.

There doesn’t need to be a specific purpose to a shoot; but it’s important to understand who will be in the images, and any sensitivities the photographer needs to be aware of (such as someone who has challenges walking).

Also, if you’ve seen images in the past that you would like your photographer to capture, please share them! Having a conversation with your photographer in advance will help her plan accordingly.

2. Have a discussion with your family about what they would feel most comfortable wearing. Make sure everyone is on board with the selected outfits. You know the saying, ‘If you feel good, you look good.’ Make sure to wear outfits that everyone is comfortable in. I love outfits that can provide movement with the desert wind.

3. Think about coordinating your colors; not necessarily matching your colors. You shouldn’t feel the need to match during your photo shoot. But your selected outfits / colors should compliment each other. Everyone has different personalities, and your outfits should allow those personalities to shine through. Select a couple of colors and choose clothes that fit with a color scheme.

4. Please avoid wearing all white or all black outfits. The reason for this is that the sun may wash out details of an all-white shirt with white pants. The same can be said for all black clothes, where the photographer will have a difficult time capturing the details and textures. If you do select to wear a white shirt, consider adding color and texture by adding a colored scarf or sweater that can be tied around the shoulders. Also, try to avoid very busy patterns or outfits with a character on them (the latest superhero). These may become very dated. Best to go with classic timeless pieces. Think about how this outfit will look 10 years down the road, and will it stand the test of time?

5. What colors work best for a photo shoot in the desert? Consider wearing neutral colors and keep it simple. You'll want your photos to be timeless since you’ll be looking at the images for many years to come. I like denim or khaki colors. Perhaps a denim jacket slug as an accessory over a t-shirt with a pair of timeless blue jeans. Good desert colors include green, yellow and brown (since they pair well with the desert background. Also, some bright colors such as red or blue. Pair these up with denim/khaki jeans or shorts and you’ll look great! The other item that works great are long flowing dresses that blow in the desert wind.

6. Think about the footwear you’ll wear. When in the desert, you may need to climb sand banks to get from one pose to the next. You’ll need to make sure your selected footwear is comfortable (leave the stilettoes at home)! You may want to consider going barefoot through the sand. Just be careful where you step!

7. Consider any accessories that you’d like to bring with you. Perhaps a colorful scarf or hat to wear or hold. Maybe a favorite teddy bear for the kids. Do the kids have a sandboard? Or during the holiday season some festive Santa hats or reindeer antlers. You probably won’t use the accessories for every photo but adding some color / accessories into the shoot is always helpful. Accessories such as a bright red umbrella will add a pop of color. The choice is up to you! Bring a tote bag filled with your favorite accessory pieces.

8. Something important to consider is how will your outfits match with your home décor. If you’re wearing very bright colors, but your décor is neutral, will the images clash with the scheme of your house? Where will the photos be positioned? If you’re only planning on sharing the photos via social media this may not be a consideration; but if you’re planning on printing the photos, this could be important to think through! Your photographer will be more than happy to provide some images in black & white for timeless portraits.

9. Pack your supplies for the shoot in advance. Make sure to bring bottled water to stay hydrated. Also, consider bringing an extra outfit just in case you spill something on your key outfit while driving in the car (this can happen)! Ask your photographer to add you to WhatsApp to communicate any last-minute challenges, and so they can drop you a location pin.

10. Finally, just have fun! Bring your personalities as well as your biggest and brightest smiles. Part of your lasting memories will be from the photo shoot itself. Your photographer will make sure the shoot is fun and enjoyable for all!


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