Am I the only one that hasn't been in a fabric store in years? And I don't mean Hobby Lobby. I mean a real fabric store that's been open for 20+ years where the owner walks around with a pencil in his ear and tape measure.

It's been FOREVER for me! As a photographer, it’s our job to explore and be open to trying new ideas, so when I visited the Fabric Joint in Decatur I felt like a kid in a candy store. Sooo many colors, textures, and patterns. This place was exactly where I needed to be and it all started with building a theme.

Quick story! My best friend/Aunt (DJ Empress Rah) got married this year and I was crowned her Maid of Honor. So when I planned her bridal shower, I decided I didn't want to buy a cute backdrop on Etsy. I wanted to develop a theme based on the these three words that surround Rah's personality: confident, free spirit, and cultured.

Whatever you envision when you hear those words, or how involved you choose to make a particular session, it can be fun to create of a theme that is meaningful and plan a session based on that concept.

6 Steps for planning a themed photo shoot:

1. Develop a theme based on the message and emotion you want to convey.

The first step in developing a concept for a shoot is so important. Don’t just think of a cute prop, go beyond that. Think about your subject. Find inspiration on Pinterest or Instagram. Ask you client to send you anything they envision too. Once you collect images, make a mood board to help you start creating a list of what you need.

2. Envision your scene.

Take a moment to visualize the scene and everything present in your frame. Think about the location, the weather, and the lighting. Consider the colors that will be present in the surroundings (either on-location or in a studio setting), and make sure the colors you plan to add to the scene are complementary. Carefully consider clothing options and how they will affect your photos. What focal length and aperture do you plan to use? Are there any special effects you are hoping to achieve, such as motion blur, tilt-shift, etc.?

3. Select a prop or props that will enhance your vision.

From Stools to flowers, there are so many options when it comes to selecting props or accessories for your session. There is an abundance of unique vendors online and on Etsy, there really is no shortage of great choices. Try to remember that the session is not about the prop – it’s about the subject and the emotion you want to convey. If you are planning a highly stylized session, be sure that the props you select are adding to your vision and are not simply items to make your scene look full.

4. Find the perfect location.

Sometimes this step can be hard and time-consuming. Keep on the lookout for possible locations when you are out and about, and don’t hesitate to look at websites like Peerspace, Airbnb, and you can even use hashtags on Instagram to find locations.

5. Plan carefully for your shoot and be flexible.

You’ve got your concept, a list of your goals, your subject(s), props and clothing, and a location. Now you need to think about the details.

There is nothing worse than spending so much time planning the big picture and showing up at a shoot having forgotten something simple like drinks, snacks, or insect repellent. Something like a hungry belly or pesky mosquitoes may thwart all your efforts. On rare occasions, things happen that are beyond your control. In that case, try to be as flexible as possible and schedule your session for another day.

6. Photograph your session, edit, and share.

You pulled it off and your photos came out great! Edit the photos in a manner consistent with your vision for the shoot.

Now celebrate! Share the photos with friends, family, clients, other photographers, etc. Be proud of your images.