Tips for a great photo session

I have gathered a list of tips to help you prepare for beautiful photos.  Not all may apply to you, but read through them before your session to get yourself thinking about how to make the most of this opportunity.

What to Wear

Does your family typically walk around in perfectly matched khakis and white button-down shirts? Mine either. Try to avoid being too “matchy,” but choose clothes that coordinate. If you want, choose one accent color to tie different colors and patterns together (i.e. mom wears red shoes, dad has a red tie, daughter has red scarf…)

Keep it simple. Avoid really loud patterns or logos that will distract the eye from the star of the photo – you! Solid colors work well.

Wear an outfit that always gets you compliments. If everyone comments on your blue eyes the day you wear your blue sweater to work, it might be the right item to choose!

Dress to match the sofa. Well, maybe not, but do think about how you intend to use the photos. If you plan to have a large canvas printed to hang in your family room, then you may not want to wear clothes that will clash with the décor.

Make sure your clothes fit you well. Too-tight clothes are uncomfortable and can leave unsightly bulges. The camera may not add ten pounds, but clothes that are too baggy on you will!

Clean your shoes and make sure they coordinate with your outfit. If your family doesn’t have all have shoes to go with your outfits, consider going barefoot (and make sure everyone washes their feet!)


If you are planning to get a new cut or color, do so at least two weeks before your shoot. Bad haircuts do happen.

You want your hair to look great, but you also want it to look like you. Style it in a way that is attractive, but not way outside your normal look. If your hair looks great, you’ll like your photos.

If you have longer hair and your photos will be outdoors, come prepared to put your hair up or back on a windy day. Bring clips, bobby pins, headbands, etc.


Ladies, if you don’t typically wear much makeup, doing a little extra may make a big difference in your photos. Don’t go overboard though. If you have a blemish that you’re concerned about, it’s probably easier for it to be corrected during my normal photo editing than to cake on the makeup in an attempt to hide it. Make sure that your foundation matches your skin tone, and again, remember that the goal is to look like yourself – just at your best!


If you plan to have any waxing done, make sure you do it a few days before your session to avoid redness.

Clean and trim your fingernails, freshen up your nail polish if you wear it.

Tidy up your eyebrows.

Men – use a new razor to shave with, and use shaving cream and a moisturizing aftershave to avoid redness. Trim up your facial hair.

Avoid eating or drinking anything that can stain your fingers, teeth or tongue for at least 24 hours before your session (especially for kids!).

Glasses – if you typically wear glasses, consider having the lenses removed prior to your shoot, or ask your optometrist if you can borrow a set of frames similar to those you normally wear. This is especially important if you wear tinted glasses, or those that automatically darken when exposed to UV light.

Moisturize your skin! Dry, flaky skin can be distracting in photos, so start moisturizing a week or so before your session. If you have any problem areas, try making a simple exfoliating scrub by mixing sugar with just enough olive oil or lemon juice to make it wet. Gently scrub the problem areas and rinse (I find this is a great way to get rid of hangnails!).

For Kids

I’m a mom, and so I know how stressful it can be to make sure that your kids show up to their photo session clean, tidy, on time and in a cooperative mood. Trust me – they are not as badly behaved as you fear they are! If your child throws a tantrum, cries, or refuses to smile, it’s not going to phase me – I’ve been there, done that. Actually, some of my favorite photos of my own kids are of them not smiling, but with natural expressions that are genuinely theirs.

Try to plan your session for a time of day when you have the best chance of having happy children. You know your child best.

Come prepared with snacks that aren’t messy (such as dry cereal, Smarties candies, etc.), drinks that won’t stain lips or clothes, wet wipes for cleaning faces, favorite toys, and a change of clothes.

Mom and Dad, this is a tricky one, but remember to smile and look at the camera the whole time if we are doing a posed family photo, and try not to worry too much about what faces the kids are pulling or what they are doing with their hands. Let me worry about that. As the photographer, I have to be quick sometimes to catch a great expression on the child’s face, and it would be a shame if that moment happens just when a parent is reaching over to straighten their clothes.

Every child is different, and some may need a parent right behind the photographer doing silly things to make them smile, or close by for reassurance. Some kids may be more relaxed if mom and dad step back and let me have a little one-on-one time with them without the pressure of “performing” to a parent’s expectations. The same child might need a different approach on different days. I like to play things by ear and I may suggest that we try different tactics during your session.

Let me know beforehand if your child has any special needs I ought to be aware of.

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