Pre-Session Planning ~ Tips & Tricks!

Photographers do their best to plan a session, set poses, and choose locations to fit you and make your session a success but there are things that you can do as well to improve the overall experience and contribute to the quality of the finished product.  Here are some things you should consider before your session to help the photographer out.

When to Schedule ~

ANY time is a great time for family or senior portraits but there are a few things to keep in mind.  Outdoor sessions are best in the early to mid-morning or late afternoon when the sun is not as harsh or directly overhead.  This lighting will be more flattering than the mid-day sun.  Earlier in the day may be calmer in certain locations~less wind, less wake on the lake. Outdoor sessions in Iowa are usually best May to September.  Plan ahead if you really want outdoor shots for those holiday cards!!  And, always consider your “typical” day and book your session at a time when your child(ren) will not be hungry or tired. 


What to Wear ~

This is by far the most frequently asked question by clients!  It’s important to be yourself.  Choose clothes that make you feel beautiful. Clothing should be well fitting, well kept (clean, pressed, and not tattered/faded unless you are going for that type of look!). Sticking with a simple color palette and very few words/logos is usually best. 

~Seniors ~ a dressy to casual mix is good.  Consider bringing a couple great bottoms that go great with a few different layering tops. Accessorize and don’t overlook the shoes!  Consider who you will be giving photos to and select at least one classic outfit to please the grandparents or parents and some fun stuff that really shows who you are.  Also, don’t forget the specialty items~sports uniforms, prom dress, suit jacket and tie, etc.

~Families ~ Some people prefer to dress all in the same color shirts or put children in identical outfits.  This looks good but I urge you to consider an alternative ~ coordinating outfits by color palette or style.  Here’s a hypothetical Family of 4 ~ Dad: Jeans and a gray or black polo or a gray or black dress shirt.  Mom: Black leggings or jeans, gray cardigan, pink scarf or necklace, cute boots or heels.  Son:  Jeans and a gray button down shirt, henley, or gray and black striped polo.  Daughter:  Black or gray leggings/skirt, pink sweater, black sparkly ballet flats. Coordinating rather than all matching is simple and comfortable but adds a little dimension to the group! 

Here are a couple cute examples to get you started:

Select a nice palette of colors then mix and match who wears what to get family portraits that look well put together and have a good amount of visual interest like this purple, black and grey grouping.

Grey and white with a punch of color is really fun! Get this look by starting with a classic color or two and adding something unexpected for a unique combination.


Red, blue, and white are a classic combo that always look great in family portraits. Mix up the shades of blues to avoid looking too “4th of July!”



What to Do Before Your Session ~

Set up your FREE consultation.  I can not stress this enough!  We will chat about your style, ideas, preferences, location, timing, wardrobe and more!  This is my chance to get to know you and you to know me.  This will make your portrait session go smoother and will translate in to more customized images for you to cherish for years to come!

Hair ~ If you are planning to get a hair cut, don’t do it right before your session.  Try to schedule it about 2 weeks prior as that will give it enough time to grow out a little and give you time to get used to working with it so it looks natural in your images.

Glasses ~ If you or a family member wears glasses, talk with your optometrist and borrow frames similar to yours with the lenses removed for the day of your shoot.  Without the lenses, we won’t have to worry about nasty lens glare with the studio flash.  This is also important if you have transition lenses and are considering outdoor portraits.

Skin ~ Take good care of your skin the weeks before your session. Don’t switch facial cleansers or make up as that may lead to unexpected break-outs.  Remember the sunscreen too!

Wardrobe ~ Lay out your wardrobe in advance to make sure you have all the pieces you want to wear/bring.  Make sure all the pieces still fit well, are clean, and pressed if needed.  Check little details like buttons missing, hems, etc.  Don’t forget the accessories & footwear!  If you have small children, feel free to dress them in their basics and save that final cardigan or button down shirt to put on at the studio to avoid last minute spills as you are going out the door.  If your child is especially prone to getting dirty or your baby drools a lot, pack an extra outfit just in case.  It will save a lot of headaches!


You’ve prepped and planned as well as you can, now it is on to the big day!  Click here for tips on how to make the day of your session go as smooth as possible!

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