Who actually likes getting their pictures taken?

You may have read my post "How I prepare for a portrait session-as the photographer." This post is her sister. I've been both, and while I'm definitely more comfortable behind the camera, I've got some client tips to prepare you for your professional portrait session.

Find your photographer

Hopefully your first choice is MoriahFaith Photo... but if you aren't convinced I'll let you know what to look for in your photographer.

A website. Instagram is all the rage, and literally anyone can start a page and call themselves a photographer. If you're looking for someone who is truly a professional, they will have put the blood sweat and tears into a beautiful website- complete with a portfolio, about page, and contact information. It's worth looking into all that stuff, not just booking based on one pretty instagram post.

Testimonials. This isn't fair to a photographer who's just starting out (I was there not long ago) but if you want someone who is really worth the price they will have client reviews to prove it. You should be able to find these on their website.

Your Style. I've said it before- photography is not a career. It's a service based art. As such, every photographer produces a slightly different end result. There are photographers I didn't hire- not because their work was poor or they had a bad attitude, but because I wasn't a fan of their style. You want to find a photographer that you'll be going back to again and again, and if you're looking for bold and moody but their portfolio is soft and light, you may be in the wrong place.

Responsiveness. Your photographer should not be hard to get a hold of. Many of us have responsibilities at home and try to balance the business and other jobs, so please don't expect your photographer to respond at 2am. But if you sent the initial email 3 days ago with no reply, it may be time to look for someone else.


Your photographer is going to personalize your entire session based on what they learn about you during the booking process. Chat back and forth with them about your ideal time, place, theme, etc.

I will recommend that you ask for inspiration if you're not sure what you want. A photographer knows that 2:00 p.m. on a bright sunny day isn't nearly as ideal for portraits as a foggy morning at 7:15 would be. They'll fill you in on those details if you don't already have it planned out.

Coordinate location, style, and props.

What type of session are you booking for? If it's an engagement, you may be looking for a sunset on the parking garage in preppy outfits. That's so not so good for a family of five with 2 under 2. They probably want a session at the local park, wearing casual matching outfits and staying in the shade. Here a few recommendations to make sure you know what you want.

Pinterest. I will never not recommend Pinterest. Think about your session possibilities and look up ideas to know what locations might suit your vibe. Consider: "Senior session on the farm" "engagement session at the beach" "Family Christmas pictures in the library" and so on.

Your life. Hopefully this one is easy for you. My husband and I knew we wanted our engagement photos taken at a state park- because that's where we got engaged. My brother had his done on our family farm, because that's where he grew up. If the photos are being taken in a studio, you can still think about which parts of your life will add to the session. for example, do you want pictures of you holding a coffee mug? Or maybe you prefer tea?

Ask the photographer. If you aren't feeling super inspired and don't really know what you're looking for, giving them just a few details about your life (usually via questionnaire) will help them curate the session perfectly.

But what do I wear?

I'm sure every photographer will agree- the quick answer is "neutrals". Unless the subject of the session is your clothing, bold patterns, citrus brights and solid blacks generally don't yield the best results. If you're doing a family session, some of you should wear solids and some should wear patterns or textures, in colors that blend well together. How dressy-or-downy your outfit is will depend on the location, and you can discuss that with your photographer.


Many photographers will require a partial retainer fee. that should be paid towards your final cost. they will give you a quote or invoice. To avoid awkward exchanges on the day of your session, it' s generally easier to pop your card in and pay before you meet up to take the pictures. Feel free to talk with your photographer about your needs. Sometimes these sessions can get very expensive, but we're often willing to work with you.

Arriving at the session

I'll speak for myself, I secretly love when my client is a little bit late. Why?

We both have to get the the session, but when I get there, I'm checking things off my prep list, getting props out of the car, mentally checking the sun and shadows and thinking about what I'll set my camera at, and scouting for the perfect shot locations. If I arrive early, and the client is already there before me, I have to do all of this on the fly without making them stand there and wait. It's not impossible, just a little bit nerve-racking.

So if you're having a bad hair day and show up 10 minutes late, don't sweat it. Your photographer probably appreciates it!

Smiling and posing

The question remains, who actually likes getting their picture taken? Very few people would admit if they did. So if the prompt is to smile, grumbling about being camera shy is not really an excuse. If you don''t know what to do with your hands, ask. It's easy for us to miss something when directing a prompt, and if it doesn't feel comfortable it won't look comfortable either. I like to recommend moving around too. If the picture is supposed to look like you're dancing, it really helps if you actually dance!

Make it yours

This goes along the lines with posing, the photographer will come prepared with all sorts of poses so that you're not standing around twiddling your thumbs. We welcome your input though, and if the photographer says "sit at the base of the tree and smile" and you want to climb the tree, by all means do it! (but please don't fall!)

The bottom line

Portrait sessions should not be scary. This is an opportunity in our modern world where you get to hire someone who works really hard to perfect their craft, and they will use a camera to capture and freeze some of the most beautiful little glimpses of your life- that then have the potential to last forever. Think about it, other than memories, when a loved one passes away, what is cherished most? the pictures and videos that remain. If you communicate and relax, chances are high that you will love your portrait session, and have memories and photos worth keeping around for a lifetime.