Preparing for your portrait session

Business headshot of young professionalWhen was the last time you had your portrait taken?

For a lot of people, it was grade school on picture day: a cookie-cutter experience that involved a lot of sweating and waiting in line. (At least you got a free plastic comb out of the deal.)

Or maybe it was a family portrait at a national chain studio—I suffered through one of those a few years back, right after making the ill-considered choice to cut my own bangs, which for some reason made my ears look… elvish? I just *love* seeing that on my grandma’s wall. It brings back delightful memories of the awkward position I was sitting in, the sound of my little cousin screaming, and the red backdrop that clashed with my skin tone. Fun!

Being formally photographed is a strange experience. Even if you take selfies and Snapchats all day long, giving up control of the camera to a total stranger can feel just plain weird. That’s why I always make sure my clients have control over the portrait experience and the final product that results.

Here are a few things you can do to make sure your portraits come out exactly the way you want them.

To get what you want, you have to know what you want.

First things first: If you haven’t already, browse my portfolio to make sure you like my style. I work in an intimate studio setting and focus on capturing natural expressions in flawless lighting.

Next, browse some magazines.

I recommend fashion or art magazines at Barnes and Noble or, if you’re short on time, poke around sites like Pinterest and 500px to find images that inspire you. I would never copy another artist’s work, but when I know what moves you, I can tailor your final product.

portrait of a guitaristWrite down your questions about the portrait process and give me a call.

I want you to feel comfortable and prepared when you arrive for your session.

Bring your favorite clothes.

There are so many arbitrary tips out there that say no stripes, no bright colors, no patterns, basically no fun at all allowed for pictures. I only have one rule: Don’t bring anything that makes you feel less than amazing!

If you wear makeup, keep it light. This will help make sure that as trends change, your portrait remains timeless. I give every image a light retouching, so there’s no need to worry about covering up spots.

And if you love a bold lip or a smoky eye, bring your makeup along! We can always add in those touches as the shoot progresses. I can also secure a makeup artist upon request.

Take care of yourself.

Don’t squeeze your portrait session in between errands; take time beforehand to walk the dog, call a friend, or get your nails done—whatever makes you feel relaxed. Your state of mind will be obvious in your images.

A black and white headshot

One last bonus tip…

Keep in mind why you’re going through all this. Today, we have so many pictures of ourselves, but they’re often rushed and quickly forgotten. Taking the time to mindfully create an image of yourself is a gift to you and everyone who loves you.

That may sound like a lot of homework, but even in the age of iPhones, we have so few opportunities to slow down and intentionally record the way we looked and sat and smiled. A formal headshot or portrait can send a message of professionalism and seriousness to a potential employer, preserve a family memory, or even just help you remember a period in your life. It will also become a family treasure… and you might even enjoy yourself.

I promise, it’s an experience worth slowing down for.