Making your Virtual Shoot a success

Virtual photo shoots have become a really fun and unique way to document time in lockdown. At first I was a bit hesitant to try them, as the quality of the images captured as screenshots doesn’t compare to the quality you would get from a pro camera.


Then I came across a video showing a styled flatlay version of the virtual shoot and I was hooked!

They're now popping up all over social media, and if you are prepared to waive a bit of quality and instead embrace the shoots for what they are, then the creative possibilities are just about endless.


So here's how to make your next virtual shoot a success:


As it stands (as I write this, by the time you're reading things may have changed!), photographers are unable to shoot during Level 4 lockdown, unless they are shooting for a media house or for an essential services provider for advertising. This means no personal shoots for families, model portfolios, business headshots - and obviously no events and weddings.

This is where a virtual shoot is great for capturing moments that you would not want to miss - and the first one that jumps immediately to my mind is a maternity and/or newborn session. Virtual shoots are perfect for maternity and newborn sessions:


  • they can be scheduled almost right up until your due date, and as soon as you bring your baba home

  • you have your wardrobe at your disposal so changing outfits is easy

  • because there’s no travel involved, it’s less risky for you and baby

  • it’s easy to include other family members who live with you into the session

  • we don't need to be in the same city (or even the same country!) for the shoot to take place


Family shoots are also a popular option. Do any of these sound familiar?


I’d love to book a shoot, but I just don’t have the time.

I’d love to book a shoot, but trying to co-ordinate our schedules is impossible.

I’d love to book a shoot, but I just don’t have the budget right now.

A virtual session helps solve all of those for you. You’re at home together, there’s no travelling to and from a venue, and they are budget-friendly. Because you’re at home, the shoots are also a lot more intimate than if you were in a neutral location like a studio or the park. The idea is that we document your daily life with images that are candid and natural.

If you’re considering a virtual shoot, the first three things you need are:

  1. A smartphone / iPad with a good built-in camera

  2. A strong and stable internet connection

  3. Enough data for video calling


Once you have the basics sorted, we can start planning!

By far my favourite way to do a virtual shoot is the “creative flatlay”. Before the shoot, we’ll have a video call together. On this call you’ll be giving me a virtual tour of your home, so that we can pick out the best spots for the photos. We’ll also discuss the styling for your outfits, props that you may like to include, and what type of flatlay I will be creating on my side.


On the shoot day, I will have my flatlay ready styled and laid out. I place my phone/iPad in the flatlay, and direct you through the shoot via a video call. You might not be able to see me, but you’ll be able to hear me, and I’ll give the most clear direction I can. As I’m directing you, I’ll be photographing the whole flatlay scene with my pro camera, which is set up on a tripod. I will also take screenshots with my phone.


Post shoot, the images are edited, and sent through to you for you to make your selection of favourites.


The second option is for you to shoot the images on your smartphone, and then send them through to me for editing. We’ll still go through the same pre-shoot preparation, but there isn’t a flatlay set up on my side. I’ll be directing you through the session as above, but you’ll have your phone camera on a self timer mode so that it’s your phone capturing the images.


Post shoot, you’ll select the images you’d like me to edit, and send them to me via a WeTransfer link.

I would recommend at least an hour for the shoot, as it does take a bit of time to get used to communicating via the video format. Make sure you’ve prepped outfits in advance so that any outfit changes can be done easily.

Most of all, just have fun. If you want to jump on the bed and have a pillow fight in your shoot, let’s do it! If you want a moody silhouette photo of your baby bump in front of a window, let’s do it! Furry family you’d like to include in the shots? Let’s do it!

For Tracy’s shoot, we decided on two layouts. She is a make-up artist, so the first look was inspired by art and fashion. The red lipstick I used in the flatlay was a similar shade to the red she used on her eyes. The second look was inspired by summer travels.


We both have a large floppy hat that we could use to tie the flatlay and her portraits together. Identifying similar items that you and I might both have to use in the shoot helps to create a cohesive overall image.


Tracy has a ring light with a cellphone clamp which she used for the first look. Don’t be afraid to do a shoot if you don’t have the same equipment. A stable surface to support your phone and decent natural light will be just fine. That’s also why we take a “walk through” your home before the shoot and pick out the locations in advance.

Here are a few more examples of the shots we achieved for the second look.



The shoot itself was about an hour in total. Set up time for me prior to the shoot was three hours to design and prep the flaylays, and another hour to edit these few sneak peaks from the session.

If you're ready to book your virtual shoot, you can click here for pricing and the contact form.


PLUS: As a special bonus, ALL virtual sessions booked will receive a discount voucher to the same value, that you can use towards any future portrait session with me.


What are you waiting for? Let's get creative!

#virtualshoot #virtualphotoshoot #familyportraits #shootideas #howto #tipsandtricks #shootideas #photographyinlockdown

© 2020 by Leigh Benson Photography | hello@leighbensonphotography.com | 083 296 8466