Planning your photo session – Advice from a photographer

Happy Friday everyone!! I’m so excited to share this beautiful little blog post with you today! My handsome man and I (and our pup!) recently had the pleasure of being photographed by our friends Kelsy & Butch of The McCartneys Photography. We are so smitten with them and so excited about our gorgeous images! I thought it’d be fun to share our experience on the other side of the camera and give you some tips for your own session!

1.  CHOOSE THE PERFECT PHOTOGRAPHER.  Take the time to search for the perfect photographer- one who’s vision you love, and equally importantly, someone who you can have fun with!  Browse through potential photographers portfolios and make sure you love their work and you can picture yourself in their photos.  Can you envision them hanging in your home?  Are your styles a good match?  After you’ve determined a good fit, take the time to connect with your photographer on a personal level. For us this was just as important as the photos themselves. We feel awkward being photographed so it was really important to have a photographer who could help us relax, make us laugh, and keep the process light and fun!!

2. SCHEDULE YOUR SESSION. I decided on approximately November 20th that we needed updated pictures for a holiday card. This really isn’t adequate time. {I’m hanging my head in shame.} Do yourself a favor, lower your stress levels, and plan in advance! It’s never too early to book your session, and of course, be sure to consider what you’ll be using the photos for.  Maybe you’re engaged and want to use them for save-the-dates, which generally go out about 6 months before your wedding date. Maybe you want updated images for holiday cards. Consider the date you want the photos in your hands, and be sure to let your photographer know when scheduling so your session date can planned accordingly.  Build in extra time so there is no rush and keep in mind that fickle weather may call for rescheduling.

3.  HIRE A HAIR & MAKEUP ARTIST.  Trust me, this is a must. I cannot understate the value of hiring a talented stylist to help you look your best. It’s so fun to be pampered and if you look your best you’ll feel much more confident in front of the camera. Bridal bonus: use this as a time to get to know the stylist that will be beautifying you on your big day!

Also, the day of your session is NOT the time for a new haircut or highlights, just in case anything goes awry. I recommend doing these services at least 3-4 days prior to your session unless you know and trust your stylist.

4.  STYLE YOUR SHOOT.  Start planning the overall look and feel of your session, including location and wardrobe. Maybe you have a strong vision in your head, or maybe you don’t. Either way, open up a dialogue with your photographer (and your significant other). You’ve chosen to hire a professional and they are there to help you! If you need suggestions, your photographer should have ideas. Personally, I love collaborating with my clients, and when we brainstorm together, we come up with the best ideas. It’s always fun to incorporate meaningful locations (if you find them visually beautiful) like your alma mater campus, the park where he proposed, or your first date spot. If your location doesn’t have meaning, that’s ok too. It’s ok to pick something just because it’s pretty. After all, the photos are more about the subject (that’s you!) and less about the background.

5.  SHOP TIL YOU DROP!  Shop for real, or shop your own closet! This is the fun part, but it can be stressful if you wait until two days before your shoot. I knew I wanted two separate looks, and I wanted them to be cohesive so the images from the entire session would flow together. I went shopping with my bestie (a superior option to dragging my guy to the mall) and we had so much fun picking out outfits. I found that it was easy to shop for my wardrobe (hello, Jcrew), but a bit harder to find coordinating clothes for my guy.  I ended purchasing several options for him and trying them on together when I brought them home.  (We kept the tags on so we could return the items we didn’t want.)  We were so glad we tried on the items the day before the shoot, because when we stood in front of a mirror, some options just didn’t work like I thought they would in the store. It’s much better to see this in person, at home, rather than on-location at your session.

6.  DON’T FORGET ACCESSORIES.  The icing on the cake.  I think accessories add so much to a shoot, and life in general!  This doesn’t just apply to the gals. Guys, make sure your shoes coordinate with your looks and don’t be shy about adding little touches like your favorite watch . Girls; jewelry and the perfect shoes can really complete the look, so don’t forget about styling from head to toe.  Another tip, if you’re wearing heels, but walking from location to location, bring along a comfy pair of flats or flip flops that slip on and off easily.

7.  BE FLEXIBLE.  Things may not go according to plan. Just laugh it off and enjoy your session. For example, the day of our session it was probably about 30 degrees; quite chilly! Our second look involved an adorable silk polka dot blouse (there is one pic below). The wind cuts through silk like a knife, so I lasted about 3 minutes outside in that outfit.  Rather than torturing ourselves and our photographers, we decided to be flexible and end the session a bit earlier than planned.

I have lots more tips for a successful session, but I hope these little tidbits help.  If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.  I am happy to share my experience!

Here are a few favorites from our session!!  Another big, huge thank you to our amazing friends Kelsy & Butch for capturing these images we will treasure forever!!