At least once during every lecture in school, ever since I can remember, the professor would say something important that I swore I didn't need to write down because I'd easily remember. Needless to say, I never remembered. That was probably the number one reason why I would not deliver assignments or forget the dates of exams. You'd think one learns after a couple of times, but, to be honest, I have never-ending trust in my ever-failing memory.
The day before every shoot, I go on Pinterest and look through ideas for poses and lighting, and I keep those down in my head. By the time of the shoot, I usually forget everything I had thought about and my anxiety forbids me from digging in my mind for those ideas. Yes, I could go back to my Pinterest boards to remind myself of the ideas I had, however I thought that would make it seem as if I didn't know what I was doing or as if I was attempting to blatantly copy someone else's work.
I decided I couldn't step in to my studio empty-handed for a shoot, and developed a fool-proof mechanism to plan my sessions. I still go on Pinterest days before the shoot to browse through images for inspiration, and I realized writing my ideas down helped me keep track of each of my shoots. So while I'm looking at the works of Leibovitz, Ritts, Lindbergh and many others I've saved on my boards, I write down in my handy dandy moleskin what I like about the photos I've selected. I narrow my ideas down to 5 different sets of keywords that describe mood, light and styling, as well as a small reminder of which photos I got those ideas from. I also draw diagrams of what I think my light setup should look like to achieve these looks. Extra points if I get photos of my client's outfits before the session and match each to a setup.
Doing this before every shoot has helped me tremendously. By having everything written down, I can focus my attention to just taking photos, instead of trying to figure out what to do next. Writing and sketching has become essential before every shoot and before even meeting with my clients. Since every session is different, writing my ideas beforehand helps me move through my shoots smoothly and confidently. It's like having a map at hand while driving through a town you've never visited before. Like a grocery list reminding you to take a set of photos reminiscent to Testino's Lady D shoot during your session.