Preparing for a Weekend Service Photoshoot

Kelly Belousov

May 5, 2020

Did you know that one of the most important parts of your photo shoot is actually the time that you spend preparing for it? Preparation is crucial for getting the high quality, professional photos that you’re looking for. If you’ve ever completely frozen as the photographer at a photo shoot because you didn’t know what to capture next, then this article is for you!

Mood Boards & Shot Lists

Before every photo shoot, we always create mood boards and shot lists that help us to spark creativity, and have a clear direction for the day of the photo shoot to ensure that we’re going to get the photos that we’re looking for. We find photos from Pinterest, and other churches on Instagram, and we’re constantly saving photos and adding them to our “file of inspiration” whenever we happen to come across them.

Here is an example of my preparation process for a small groups photo shoot that I captured recently. Before reaching out to some people and asking them to participate in a photo shoot, I took some time to research photos of people connecting. Some of my favorite places to go to that spark my creativity for church photoshoots specifically are lightstock.com and unsplash.com.

Once I got around nine photos all portraying different angles, actions, and representations of small groups, I combined them onto one sheet of paper. From there, I saw that a lot of the photos that I had chosen had both Bibles and coffee in them, so I started to make a props list. You can then write out your specific shot list ideas underneath the grouping of your photos that you collected. We recommend actually printing out these images and shot lists and taking them with you to your shoot so that you can reference them, especially as you’re just starting out!


I then take my mood boards and shot lists to the next level and I write out WHERE I will be taking each set of photos. For this small groups photo shoot in particular, I had a different mood board and shot list for a men’s ministry photo shoot, a women’s ministry photo shoot, and a small group photo shoot. Under each of the shot list items, I listed a LOCATION that I would take those actions/poses/shots of the people I was photographing.

For each group, I started the photo shoot in a “living room” setting with Bibles and coffee. The next location I chose was a brick wall in the church cafe with people fellowshipping and reading their Bibles together. The third location I chose was in front of a reclaimed wood wall that showed conversational and interactive photos. I made sure they were varied with some standing and some sitting on the sofas. The final location that I chose was outside against a neutral colored wall to show people interacting “outside” of the church, and to get some natural light photos.

Show Up To Your Photo Shoot With Confidence

Now all of the hard work has already been thought through! You have your inspiration mood board photos, your shot list, AND you know where you’re going to be taking the shots so that you can direct people with confidence and ease! For the above photo shoot, I directed 2 videographers, 2 photographers, and 24 people that were in the photographs in under an hour. I budgeted 20 minutes for each of the three sessions, I had 4 locations for each group so I budgeted 4 minutes for each of the locations, and 1 minute for walking time between each location. The three sessions flowed smoothly and with ease all because I came with a PLAN. I actually had a blast, and I wasn’t nervous about freezing or not knowing what to tell people to do for the photos. If you ever get stuck and can’t find the words to communicate to the people you’re taking photos of what they should do next, you can actually SHOW people a specific photo on your mood board that you’re trying to recreate! We recommend that you keep your subjects MOVING, and to continually encourage them about how great they look as you’re taking photos of them. The more you talk to them, interact with them, and make them feel at home, the more they’ll smile for you!

You can apply these principles to any type of photo shoot that you’re wanting to do for your weekend services! We recommend thinking through capturing photos of your volunteer teams, Kids Ministry, Small Groups, Women’s Ministry, Men’s Ministry, Youth Ministry, and people connecting together!

The Heart Behind It All

As we highlighted in our article, A Beginner’s Guide to Church Photography Series, ultimately, the heart behind capturing photos of the life of your church is to strengthen your church’s community, and also to draw others in who aren’t a part of a community yet, or don’t yet know the love of Jesus. When you’re taking photos of your church, you’re helping preserve the legacy of all of the great works that God has done in your church’s ministry, you’re honoring people and the leaders of the church, and you’re helping to create an online community where people can feel the emotion of the photos you are taking and connect with the church. Photography is such a powerful tool to use to show honor and capture legacy.

And guess what?! To help you get started we’ve included a FREE photography team shot list downloadable PDF that you can use as inspiration for the images that you want to capture of your church in our Church Media Toolkit. In our next article in our photography series, we’re going to teach you how you can make your own shot lists and mood boards!

Looking for more photography resources? Visit our photography resource page for a complete list of all of the gear and software we use for shooting and editing. Happy picture taking! 📷

(links will be updated when released)
A Beginners Guide to Church Photography
A Guide to Staging the Shots You’re Looking
Preparing for a Weekend Service Photoshoot
Capturing Candid Moments
Overview of Photography Basics in Manual Mode
A Guide to Editing Compelling Images

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