I'm Tori, a portrait and wedding photographer based in central New Jersey. Thank you for visiting my little corner of the internet; I'm so happy you're here. Come check out the full galleries from recent weddings and portrait sessions, behind the scenes, personal posts, helpful tips and more. Please feel free to take a look, and let me know if there is anything special you'd love to see in a future post. I hope to hear from you soon!
Wanting to book a photo shoot can feel really overwhelming before you have much information. Sometimes it’s just hard to know where to start. As much as I will guide you through the process and help plan every little detail, you are still making all of the final outfit, location and styling decisions, and I don’t want you to stress! This process should be enjoyable and easy for you from start to finish, so let me help you! I want to share a whole big list of tips (in no specific order) that I’ve gathered to get you started on planning for your portrait session. Many of these tips can be useful for your portraits, engagement session, senior portraits, boudoir session and beyond.
Feeling extra prepared for your session is key. You want to cover all the bases so that you’re not running around looking for your left earring 20 minutes before your session. The goal is to feel confident in all of your choices days before your session, so we can capture the best photos for you and not worry about all of the little details!
-Check the photographer’s website if they have one (social media is a great second option if they don’t have a website). You can find a ton of useful information that will answer many of your initial questions.
-Some things to look for: photography style*, an idea of who they are and what services they offer, a pricing estimate, information about their location and travel abilities
-Photography style is singled out above because it is a big deal. Not all photography styles are the same, just as all people are not the same, so take that into account when searching through all of the incredible talent out there! Really take the time to look through the portfolio on their website or social media to make sure that their style, from the images they capture to the way they edit/retouch, is something you adore. If you love images that are edited with a moodier, darker style, but you come across a photographer whose style is light, bright and airy, you may not be the best fit for each other. Typically, photographers have a distinct style and will not veer away from that, so you have to love what you see before inquiring. There is no right or wrong, no better or worse style; you just need to do your research and find a photographer whose style is exactly what you are looking for!
– Usually the best ways to reach out are through a contact form or an email on their website unless otherwise stated. You can reach out through social media, but just be aware that sometimes those get lost or answered less frequently. Either way, let them know you’re interested and would love more information.
-If you know which locations you want to shoot at and what season/time of year/specific date you want to shoot on, let the photographer know as soon as you can. That information is super helpful to them in the planning process.
-Find out, in advance, how long it will take to receive your final images. If you have an idea of a time frame, you’ll be less anxious and know exactly what to expect.
– Trust your photographer! If you love them, there is a reason for that. You probably felt a strong connection from their presence online. They have so much experience working with clients and will do everything they can to ensure you’re getting the best treatment and service!
Again, every photographer is different, so each experience is unique to them. They will guide you, but here are some tips and actions you can take on your own to prepare for your session!
-Wear what best suits you! You’ve lived with yourself long enough, so you know what makes you comfortable and feel your best. No need to go rogue and try a whole new style (if you can rock it, though, go for it!) if you don’t want to. Just stay true to what you know and feel great in.
-Bring multiple outfits if your contract allows for it. Options are your best friend here. Try a few different looks ranging from casual to dressy! Check out my Pinterest boards with tons of outfit ideas for couples and seniors!
-Bring back ups in case something doesn’t work out.
-Be thoughtful in your choices. Think about where these images will be used (save-the-dates, profile pictures, albums, etc.) and have those in mind while you choose your looks.
-Make sure your clothing is clean, unwrinkled and ready to be worn! Wrinkles don’t photograph well and small stains can show up even from a distance.
-Try everything on in advance to make sure that you really love how it all looks! Put it all together from jewelry to shoes, as well.
– For couples, try your best to coordinate outfits instead of matching each other. Work with color palettes that go nicely together instead of wearing the same colors. You don’t need to both be wearing white shirts and jeans to look good together! Colors are super fun, but neutrals are also always a great option. Pinterest is your friend here, take a look at what people wear for their engagement sessions to get an idea!
-Patterns can work in your images, so you don’t have to steer clear of them, but just be mindful of how they photograph. Thin pinstripes sometimes photograph funny, but thicker stripes can work nicely! Try to avoid graphics and big logos, as they can be distracting for your portraits. We don’t want to take away from the most important part of the pictures – you! Coordinating patterns is also a good idea; two people in stripes or plaid can be overwhelming, so try to simplify as best as you can!
-Bring an extra bag to hold phones, wallets, keys, etc. because having your pockets full in photos just ain’t cute! Clear out both your front or back pockets.
-For couples, try to coordinate your level of dressiness, as well. If one of you is all dolled up in a dress, the other should be on the same level maybe in nice jeans and a button up or khakis and a sweater! Just try to make it all work together.
-Looking amazing is key, but don’t neglect your comfort! You may be walking a bit during your session, so if you plan on wearing heels or uncomfortable shoes, bring along a pair of flip flops or sneakers to walk around in.
-Clean your engagement ring because there will be detail shots!
-These are special images we are creating, so pamper yourself beforehand. Get your nails done (don’t forget your toes if you’re wearing open-toe shoes!) or take of all nail polish and just have nice, clean nails. Your hands will likely be seen somewhere in most shots, so try not to forget about them!
-Hair and makeup should be done before arriving to your session. You can always bring some makeup for touch ups if you’d like!
-If you’re getting your hair and makeup done professionally, make sure to do a trial run so you know you’re getting exactly what you want the day of.
-Even natural looking makeup can go a long way. It adds that perfect touch before getting your photos taken. Keep it true to you and what you feel comfortable in, but feel free to get all dolled up. As I said, these are special images! You want to look and feel like your best self.
-If you usually wear very little makeup, take the extra time to make sure it’s done nicely. A touch of mascara can go a long way in an image.
-Breakouts and acne are normal, so don’t worry! Blemishes can get retouched if needed.
-Bring along oil blotting sheets if your skin tends to get oily throughout the day.
-Be aware of your photographers retouching guidelines. My rule is if it won’t be on your face next week, I’ll remove it, but if you have beauty marks or anything permanent, I will leave those because they are a part of who you are!
-Try not to make any drastic changes to your hair right before the shoot. Give it a few weeks before just in case you need to go back for any changes.
-Try to have your eyebrows done a few days in advance so the redness is gone by the time we shoot. Make sure they’re looking their best on this big day! It’s their time to shine!
-Bring along some lip balm, lipstick or lip gloss if your lips get chapped easily.
-If you love your natural hair, let it be natural! Be sure to brush/comb it or style it exactly the way you want it to look in photos!
-If you are straightening or curling your hair, try your best to not miss any sections. Have someone check the back of your hair for missed spots.
-Maybe your outfit feels like it needs a pop of something. Try adding some fun elements to your look like rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, anklets, body chains, hats, sunglasses, bags/purses, blankets, props, etc.
-Bring along options. We can try it all!
-Typically, high school seniors want to personalize their shoot even more. If you have a hobby, play a sport or have something you love, try to incorporate that into your session! You can bring sports equipment, uniforms, instruments, dance outfits, art pieces, your dog, or anything you can think of!
-Some props that couples might want to think about are flowers/flower crown, champagne, signs, ring boxes, blankets, candles, etc. Get creative, these can be really fun to add into your session!
The location you choose plays a big role in the overall look of your images, but it can be tough trying to find the perfect place! I will gladly help you come up with ideas or offer some places I have in mind. Often times, though, my clients think of some really special and unique locations of their own! I’m open to any of your ideas, let’s be adventurous and create some really incredible shots! We’ll discuss all of the details together and choose the best options for your session!
– Take some time to think of places that have a special meaning to you.
– Think of what you love to do and see if there is a location that is fitting based on that. (Ex: cooking, hiking, eating, drinking wine, etc.)
– Many couples love revisiting the place they first met, their favorite date spot or even just somewhere they both have been wanting to visit.
– Not all locations have to have a personal connection, it’s just an added bonus if they do!
– Consider distance between locations. If you are driving from place to place, you are losing valuable shooting time. Try to narrow your locations down to as few as you can while still getting everything you want to capture. Some photographers require a travel fee, as well!
– You can consider choosing a theme to incorporate; this can work for both portraits or couples sessions! Do you both love milkshakes? What about a 50’s inspired diner shoot? Are you both obsessed with cars? A junk yard is a really cool spot!
-If you are choosing a location out in nature, make sure to bring extra clothes to dress accordingly for the walking portions of the day!
-Ask your photographer, friends, and family for local suggestions!
You can get a great idea of the types of poses and amount of posing you’ll be doing during your session based on the photographer’s portfolio. We want you to release all those nerves early on in the session (or not even feel them at all!), so that we can get right to the comfortable posing and great images.
-It might feel ridiculous, but practice some posing in the mirror. Figuring out what makes you comfortable will make the session a lot more fun, and you’ll have less to think about during the shoot.
-This means faces, too! Practice the smile, the soft smile, the straight face, the slight smirk, the lifted eyebrow, the relaxed face, and more. Think of an emotion and let your face react to it. The better you know how to get into a serious, but peaceful and happy straight face, the more confident you will feel when I ask you to do something like that!
-Pinterest is a great resource again for posing tips, outfit ideas and prop ideas. Check it out and see what you can find.
-Make your photographer aware of any features you either want to highlight or don’t want to highlight, so that they can try their best to accentuate all the features you love!
WHEW, that was A LOT, but I’m sure you’ve realized that most of it is pretty obvious, but maybe not something you would initially think of. The most important part of it all is that you should just have fun, relax and be YOU! You’re going to look incredible, and feel even better about yourself before, during, and after your session when you receive your images. Don’t worry, I will be guiding you the entire way, so you can just enjoy every second of it. If you have any questions or think there should be something added to this list, please comment below or email me! I would love to keep adding to this to help everyone make the most out of this experience.
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