WELCOME TO YOUR PORTRAIT SESSION GUIDE!
Here you will find everything you need to know from picking the perfect location to how I typically run my sessions! PLEASE take the time to read all the way through this guide not only today but also a day or two before your session. The more prepared you are, the better your session will go! My goal with providing you this information is so that we can create beautiful memories for your family without any additional stress. The goal for each session is to capture your family truly CANDID, chaos and all. Whether you have just one precious baby or a group of teenagers, I want to capture them in a way that showcases who they are! DO NOT STRESS... Parents, kids will be kids and that doesn't change when you book a photography session. The number one thing I can say is if you are stressed, your kids will be more stressed. I have three kids of my own (11,10 and 2) so I can totally handle the tantrums and craziness. In fact, you will probably think I am a little crazy myself when you see what I am willing to do for some smiles and laughs. Regardless, let me handle the kids and you just love on your family through whatever it may bring!
So let’s get to it!
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
The first thing we want to do is pick out the perfect location. When thinking about the location, you want to first figure out what kind of vibe you are wanting. Do you want to play in a field or walk down the streets of Charlotte? Do you want to be surrounded by all the pretty flowers or maybe go on an adventure? When you know the vibe and style you want, it will make it easier for me to narrow down your location choices.
My advice is to make sure you are a picking a setting your kids will enjoy as well as give you the aesthetic you are going for. When the kids are more excited about their surroundings they will of course be happier which will give us more genuine smiles. If they don’t particularly like bugs or tall grass, then maybe an old field isn’t the right place for you. If they love throwing rocks into water (what kid doesn’t?!) then we can find a cute creek! The key is finding somewhere that is interesting enough to keep them happy!
Once we have nailed down the style you are going for and we have picked the perfect location, we will then determine the best time to go so that we have the best lighting to create the most beautiful photos! Just remember that your location will affect how lighting looks. If you want pictures that are brighter and true to color with lots of natural light but you picked a movie theater, understand that your pictures will be a little more darker and moodier. Just keep that in mind!
Leave the lighting to me. Almost any place you pick, I will be able to work with. Once we have chosen your location, I will then determine the best time to go so that we can get the best lighting for you! Just remember that your location will affect how the light looks.
WHAT TO WEAR - LOOK GOOD, FEEL GOOD
Some people may feel the need to run out and buy a completely new outfit but unless you are a maternity client I suggest to start in your closet first! Find something that you feel beautiful in and take the guesswork out of trying to find something new. Feeling comfortable in your clothes is going to make such a huge difference to how you act in front of the camera. Wearing something that you already know you love will give you that boost of confidence that you might need!
So then, what to wear?!
We’ve established that you must feel fabulous in whatever you’re wearing, but if the outfit doesn’t come immediately to mind, here are some tips that might help you out!
- Location - First think about your location. If we are hiking through a waterfall I wouldn't recommend heels. Make sure you are dressed so that you are able to move freely and safely. If you love heels just remember to bring sneakers or slip ons as well.
- This isn’t the time to try out a new style. Wear something that you would normally wear. If dresses are not your thing and you hardly ever wear one, don’t feel pressured to wear one if you want the photos to look sophisticated! There are other ways to achieve that look without going outside of your comfort zone! You want to look like yourself in these pictures. Remember, feeling comfortable and confident is key!
- Solid colour outfits tend to look better than prints, which can be distracting and overwhelming. If you do go with a print, make sure it’s not too loud! If you are a bold person, opt for a super fun pair of shoes or showcase it with your accessories, rather than a bold print!
- Start with a neutral base and build from there. Neutral tones are typically more flattering and cohesive than bright colours. Pick two or three neutrals to start with and then add little accents of colour if you want!
- Avoid tight fitting clothes that might highlight areas that you’d rather not have highlighted. For example, I have a mommy tummy, so I stay away from really tight shirts when I wear low riding pants, or I layer with blazers, and tend to tuck my shirt in on one side. You’ll find out that that is my signature look!
- Consider the weather! Make sure you’re prepared with cute coats if it’s rainy or snowy!
- Do not match. Avoid wearing the same outfit (especially the classic white-t-shirt look. I can knock that look because that is what my husband and I wore for our engagement pictures!) and avoid putting your kids in the same shirt, it’s tempting because it’s cute but it doesn’t make each child stand out! Instead, try to coordinate. Mix and match the base neutrals that you picked out. You should also look like you’re all going to the same place.
When trying to coordinate outfits in a family I find it easy to do one outfit first (when getting our own pictures done I usually plan the entire wardrobe around my outfit!). Take that outfit and use it as inspirations for other outfits. Use the same base neutrals and find different ways to incorporate your pops of colour in the other outfits. Remember to think of your location. Try to coordinate with the setting, you don’t want to clash with the trees or even with your own home decor.
When dressing kids for sessions, keep these things in mind:
- Avoid character themed clothing. Their favourite show might be Paw Patrol or Ninja Turtles but stay away from logos, images, or graphics. Even though it might be their favourite shirt, it will be a serious distraction in the image.
- Make sure they have matching socks!
- Being able to move around in their clothing is a must!
If you’re still stuck, head to pinterest for inspiration and you can send me pictures of your outfit(s) if you want my opinion! When in doubt, ask!
HE PUT A RING ON IT!!! Now it's time to plan for the big day and send out your save the dates. Engagement sessions are so fun and we get to create a lasting memory that you will share with the people you love! If you're anything like me, having a clear idea of what to expect in terms of how to approach engagement sessions (starting at location choosing, wardrobe & hair all the way to posing and finally delivery) really helps calm the nerves and allows you to actually enjoy the process-- and honestly, it is a super fun process. Promise! So, let's dive right in!
HOW TO PREPARE
So at this point we've nailed down the perfect location and have the date ready to go! Now, to prepare for you session....
- The TOP suggestion, no the TOP REQUIREMENT is that want to make sure you pick outfits that you both feel comfortable in. If you are not 100% comfortable in what you are wearing, no matter what we do or what we try, you're going to look uncomfortable in your photos. This also applies to anything that may be restricting or tight fitting. No one wants to move around in super tight clothes and the photos will definitely show if you are uncomfortable.
- When thinking about colors, think: Complimentary Colors. Try to steer away from going matchy-matchy that will cause you both to become a big blob of navy where it's hard to tell where one individual begins and another one ends, find a color story that has multiple shades that all compliment one another, but will give your photographs depth. Stay away from black as it tends to loose texture and depth as well as black tends to dominate the photo. You want the eye to go to your faces and not the black shirt. Also, try to steer away from neon and super bright colors. These cause horrible color casts on your skin and make it difficult to get accurate skin tones.
- PLEASE stick with jewel and earth tones as they photography beautifully, 100% of the time. Some colors to consider are your burgundy's, plums, olives, navies, creams, greys & browns.
- Patterns and textures are great additions that add layers to your photos. The great thing about layers is you can remove them to create a totally different look during the session. Sweaters, jackets, cardigans-- all great as well to break up solids and to give a little bit more depth!
- Also think about your location. When shooting at the beach a lot of people see the ocean and think blue is the best color to go with but in reality all they are doing is blending in with the setting. To create a more dynamic image, try to choose colors that create a contrast between you and the backdrop. Jewel tones achieve this very easily.
BRAINSTORMING ACTIVITIES & PROPS
- Before your session think about different activities that you both enjoy doing that can help take your mind of being photography and allow you to connect, authentically (like popping a bottle of champagne, or having a picnic). Little activities like these create amazing images that are try to who you are as a couple!
BRINGING PETS OR KIDS
- Do you want to bring your furry friend or maybe you precious child with you to be in some frames? If the answer is yes than ABSOLUTELY bring them! The biggest thing about bringing along a pet or small kids for an engagement session is finding someone to tag a long that can act as a babysitter for the times when the animal/kid wont be in the frame. This person is honestly the make-it-or-break-it for a session running smoothly when there's more than just the couple in tow.
- When bringing along a pet, another thing to consider is any possible mobility limitations (for older animals) and any potential social restrictions (like if they aren't dog/people friendly, can't be off leash, etc etc). If your pet does have any limitations but you guys can't imagine the portraits without them, just keep their needs in mind when picking out a location.
- And if your pup can't be off the leash, I highly recommend bringing along a more neutral colored leash & collar. I know a lot of people have fun pops of color when it comes to their doggo's accessories-- purples, blues, neons, etc--, but just like your own wardrobe, you don't want the first thing your eye to go to in the photograph is the hot pink collar.
FINDING YOUR POSING STYLE & COMMUNICATING YOUR VISION FOR THE PORTRAITS
Probably one of the most important preparations is for you two as a couple to sit down, look through some engagement photos-- whether that's mine or just searching IG or Pinterest-- and talking about what kind of images you are each drawn to. The next step is to then relay your expectations and vision to me. Granted, each photographer has their own unique style and flow when it comes to posing & the flow of a session, but there's also no way for me to know if you're looking for less romantic and intimate imagery and more so smiley and fun-natured portraits if that's not what I'm seeing happening organically during the session.
HAVE THE "IT'S A DATE" MINDSET
Try to think about your engagement session as just one part to a fun date night! Heck, why not keep it going and make plans for to go to your favorites restaurant after the session! My goal during the session to to really get you two to connect so that I can capture those micro expressions that flit across your faces & create emotive photographs that aren't just gorgeous, but more importantly have the ability to evoke feelings--- to give you that same warm & fuzzy and spilling-over-the-brim-can't-contain-it feeling that you had the moment the shutter was clicked. In order to really accomplish that, the subjects need to have authentic connection, and that can be kind of hard when your stressing about xyz & if your hair is placed just right or if this side of your face is actually more photogenic than the other side, etc etc etc etc. Keeping focused on each other and that "date" mindset will help allow the space for that connection to happen and for you two to fall in sync as if there wasn't a photographer standing only 10 feet away with a camera pointed at the two of you.
Last thing is to trust the process. I may give you the most silly prompts you have ever heard but I promise you that they are all for an amazing reason! I can not wait to photography you guys on this next chapter of your journey to husband and wife.