Preparing and planning for your photo session

I'm going to give some advice for how to prepare for your session with me. This is based entirely off of my own experience having photos taken, as well as observations on client's favorites. My style is candid, documentary in nature. People usually hire me because they want genuine moments and connection captured in the frame. So this advice is unique to my style and approach, which also is a product of who I am. So, a little of me and a little of that. I hope it helps!

Have your comforts

Have you ever done an exercise where you're encouraged to wear something comfy, like a cozy sweatshirt or having a blanket? Maybe you are encouraged to have a warm tea or something that makes you feel good? I encourage you to have these things for your session. It can be a little unfamiliar to have a camera pointed in your direction. So, give yourself lots of extra love and compassion as a way of acknowledging that you're stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new.

Don't prepare (too much)

My favorite photos have been from the time's I was not expecting to be on camera, or was too disorganized to be prepared for it.

One of these times was a remote session with my family, which I'd originally planned to have at home. A long bumpy day-trip up to the coast to see the sea lions made it impossible for us to get home in time for our scheduled session. We hurriedly drove to our favorite Inverness beach on the way back, and we did the session off of the parking lot in the grass. At least one of my kiddos had a pee-stain, the other was cold so we wrapped her in my shirt, and the other fell and hurt her knee as we started the session.

Now, it's quite possible that the photos are special because the photographer is just THAT GOOD (and she is). But I also believe they're special because we were too unprepared to try. When I see the photos, I see real emotions. I see my family working together and making the best of things. I see us.

Another time was an in-home documentary session. I spend the whole day cleaning and cleaning, worrying and worrying, running around, disconnected from my family and myself. During the session we had a good time, and I love the photos the photographer took. But when I see the photos, I have those feelings of trying to make the house better and feeling a bit disconnected from my family.

I get putting the laundry away (if there's time) or picking up a few things, but please don't worry too much. I want for you to feel calm, self-accepting, forgiving, and connected when you look at your photos. That's the most important thing.

Dress for the activity, not for the session

I can count on one hand the number of times I dressed for the session instead of the activity, and I feel awkward just thinking of them.

The first was a posed newborn session that I scheduled for my second baby. Less than 2 weeks postpartum, I squeezed into jeans I needed to hold together with a hair tie. I wore a proper black and white button up shirt. I did my hair. I put on makeup. No amount of denim and glamor could hide the fact that I was a mother who hadn't gotten more than 2 consecutive hours of sleep in over a week - and I don't know why I would even want to try. If given another chance, I'd show up exactly as I was and given that part of me so much love and acceptance. You don't need to hide any part of you.

My favorite photos are the ones where I dressed for the day, for the activity, and for the mood I was in. I took care of me, and didn't sacrifice anything for how I thought I should look in the photo. I wonder if that's a self-compassion mindset that then comes through in the photos...

Somehow dressing for the activity gives us permission to be authentic. And I like that.

Don't try :-)

This goes along with not preparing too much.

I want you to kind of forget you have a session, but also let me come take photos, so that you don't have enough time to buy into this idea that you have to be anything other than yourself for your session.

Clothes. Wear what you feel comfortable in, and remember, dress for the activity not the session.

When I look at photographs where I tried to be something "other", I see a very uncomfortable version of myself.

And then when you're on the session, go into it with beginner's mindset. Be open to anything happening. It's a good idea to have some vibes in mind, or a story you're hoping to tell, but if we get too specific we might end up forcing something to happen rather than letting the magic unfold based on everyone's energy that day.

If you try anything, try to be kind to yourself and take care of yourself during the session. Put yourself in a position that feels good and nurturing. Be open to whatever unfolds. Trust that there will be ebbs and flows and simply being together, however the ends up looking, will be enough.

Let your guard down

Mentally prepare to invite me into your world like I'm here to see you as you are. Like I'm your friend, the one who doesn't care if your house is dirty, whom you don't have to entertain, and you can fully be yourself with.

Direct your planning impulses towards connection

Please also keep your head and heart centered on your self and family. If your attention should be anywhere, it should be on your people. Fill their buckets (and yours) with attention and love so you're all feeling good going into your session.