Preparing for Your Photo Session // How To

Here are some handy tips on how you can get ready for your own photography session. Whether you're taking family pictures, doing a senior shoot, or having a portrait session, use these tips as a guide to prepare you for your time in the spotlight. :) 

1) Choose your photographer

You should choose a photographer who:

--has an artistic style that you like--colors, props, angles, editing, etc. Browsing the photographer's website and/or blog will give you a good idea on how he/she photographs children, families, weddings, etc.

--has reasonable rates--super expensive photographers aren't necessarily better, and super cheap photographers aren't necessarily worse. You should pick a photographer who has both the prices you can afford and the work you admire.

--will listen to your ideas and incorporate them into your session... but can also come up with his/her own ideas if you don't have any. A good photographer should be able to turn your ideas into great photos and should also be able to look at a location and have his/her own ideas on what poses/settings will look good.

--communicates with you both pre- and post-session--your photographer should keep in constant contact with you leading up to your session, and then keep you up-to-date on the editing process after your session.

--has a photo package you desire--you need to decide if you want to choose a photographer who offers only prints (and you should have some idea of the types of prints you want), or if you'd rather go with a photographer who gives you the edited photos on a DVD that allows you to share and print at your leisure. Some photographers might even offer a combination of the two.

2) Choose your location

Your location should be a reflection of your personal style or some place that has a strong presence. It is the setting for all your photos, so choose it wisely. Your photographer should be able to:

--suggest locations based on your preference

--suggest locations if you don't know and/or don't care

--be able to suggest posing ideas and/or outfitting that meshes with your location

--tell you what time of day would be best for your session at the desired location

--be able to give you ideas of what he/she is thinking when you arrive for your session

3) Choose your color scheme

If you're having family photos or multiple child portraits done, make sure your outfits compliment each other--they don't have to be all matchy-matchy, but they shouldn't mismatch, either. They should:

--be in a similar style and/or color scheme

--compliment each other rather than compete with each other

--if your photos are for a specific occasion (like a holiday), decide if you want your clothing to reflect that

--choose your clothing based on the season--light and airy for Spring, bright and bold for summer, warm and muted for Fall, and layered with pops of color for Winter.

If you're having portraits done for just one person, pick clothing that:

--is a color and style that compliments you

--is something you feel comfortable and attractive wearing

--reflects your personality

4) Choose your poses

Coming up with some of your own posing ideas before your session will:

--allow you to have more say in the types of photos you get

--shows the photographer that you know what you want

--may cause your photographer to become more inspired from your ideas

There are so many ways to find poses:

--look at magazines--fashion magazines for seniors and single portraits, family magazines for family and children sessions, and wedding magazines for engagement and wedding photos.

--use Pinterest to make a "photo session" board and pin any and all poses you like. Your photographer can then look at your board and get an idea of what kind of look you're going for. It's fun to try and replicate a pose and see how your version turned out.

--browse various photography websites and note which poses you like and which ones you don't

--Google search family/senior/children/etc. poses and you'll have too many ideas to count!

5) Choose your props

No, you don't have to have props, but they do make your session more fun! They're also handy for children's sessions because they provide a distraction if your child(ren) gets tired of just posing. Your photographer might have a few props available, and you should definitely discuss this before your session. He/She may have ideas for props that you can bring as well, which could include:

--blankets

--baskets

--pets

--vintage furniture

--anything vintage, really :)

--old frames

--child(ren)'s favorite toy(s)/objects

--flowers/plants

6) Prepare your children

Photo shoots are often boring for children, but just a little planning will ensure a smoother session for everyone. For younger children:

--if possible, give them a nap or a rest before the session so they'll be happy, bouncy, and smiley

--bring snacks and/or favorite items to keep them happy

--be prepared to take lots of breaks--posing is hard work!

For older kids:

--snacks are also helpful in case they get hungry or grouchy

--plan on breaks for them as well--let them run around, be silly, and burn off some of that impatient energy

--involve them in the entire process--let them help pick out props, clothing, poses, etc.

--use their hobbies and interests in the photos--a child is more likely to be enthusiastic about getting his/her photo taken if it interests him/her. Using books, toys, pets, or other interests (music, sports, etc) is a great way to incorporate some of their favorite things.

--make the whole process fun! If parents are stressed or trying to get a child do something he/she doesn't want to do, chances are that the child will be less likely to cooperate. If you just relax, step back, and let the photographer work with the child(ren), things will probably loosen up and you'll end up with happier photos.

--if all else fails, use bribery. :) Promise your child(ren) a trip to the ice cream shop when you're done with your session, or plan something equally as exciting. Use this promise to get your child to cooperate and don't forget--follow through on that promise!

7) And the most important way to prepare for your photos... HAVE FUN

You want your photo session to be fun and memorable, and you want your photos to be full of smiles and laughs. If you treat this session as a fun and relaxing thing instead of work or something to be dreaded, I can guarantee that:

--you and/or your children will have a blast

--your photographer will have blast

--and you'll get some great pictures! :)