5 Tips to Make the Most of Your Portrait Session | A Photographer’s Perspective


Having a great Portrait session with your family or your significant other greatly depends on the skill of your photographer, however, there are many things you can do to make sure you get the most our of your session. These are tips and experiences I have had that all make for a picture perfect session with my clients.

1. Communicate with your Photographer

As a photographer, I generally know the right questions to ask my clients to get them thinking about what they want for their photo session, whether it be for engagements, families, or a graduating senior. [What to wear, where to meet, the style of clothes you want, style of location, the "look" you are going for? Do you like props? Do you need recommendations for hairstylists or makeup artists for the photo-shoot? Etc.] I gather my clients email, FB, and phone numbers to always have some sort of path to communication should the need arise. If your photographer is not doing this, either take the reigns yourself, or find someone who shares your style of communication.

I had a client who really wanted to do an engagement session incorporating paint. She mentioned it once to me through email, seeing if it was even a possibility for our session. Which, of course it was! This was so key for me, because I would have never thought of such a great idea all by myself. If you have and idea you really want, please, always share it with your photographer! Communicating is key for a successful photo session.

Nick and Laura (4 of 28) Nick and Laura (8 of 28)2. Communicate with Family

Usually when I am communicating with a client for a family session, I am speaking with the wife/mother figure. I don’t usually get in touch with the entire family. So unless you specifically ask your photographer to send an email to your family, you will need to do so. Coordinating outfits, times, and locations is usually something that can be solved with a quick email or phone call (or if you all live together, a quick sit-down conversation). This makes it easier for photographers like me, who put a lot of time and thought into research for you, to know that things are being taken care of behind the scenes with your family, and that everyone arrives ready to be photographed.

Celena and Luke (9 of 26)

3. Coordinate Colors & Style

This usually goes without saying. These are some good guidelines I like to follow so that everyone doesn’t end up too matchy-matchy:

  • Earthy Colors, Pastel Colors, and Bold Colors, usually need to stay away from each other. Work on staying in the same hue!
  • Pick one color as a sort of common thread. If everyone is wearing a white shirt and jeans, for example, you can switch things up by having a common color for “pop” that is incorporated in some way. Your son could be wearing red shoes, and mom could be wearing a red scarf. Dad could even wear a red plaid shirt. Etc.
  • DO NOT wear the same color things, BUT all in different patterns. Please. For the love.
  • Match styles. If you want to go casual for your session, absolutely great. If you want to dress up, absolutely great. Just make sure that one person doesn’t stand out more than the other. The following examples of one couple I photographed are great for showing how you can do both casual and dressy.

Lauren and Dane (14 of 20) Lauren and Dane (15 of 16)4. Fit of Clothing

Clothes should fit. It simply makes you look better. Not too tight, not too baggy. Speaking from my own experiences, I tend to wear loose clothing, because I like feeling flow-y and free, etc. I honestly feel skinnier in loose clothing. However, this has never translated well on camera for me, or for anyone. I love the fit of both Chelsea and Matt’s clothes in their engagements, because you can tell they are well tailored. Matt’s jeans were rolled at the hem in a stylish- GQ way, and Chelsea accessorized with a bit of pop of color with a belt. Absolute perfection.

Chelsea and Matt (1 of 18) Chelsea and Matt (5 of 18)

5. Makeup and Grooming

For the Gentlemen:

  • Haircuts (if you are getting one), should be done a week in advance in order to settle in. I have found that this works well for most folks.
  • Facial hair. Make sure it is well groomed. No lip curl from the mustache should be seen. If you are rocking the mustache, then you probably already know about ‘Stache Wax. Check it out.
  • Nails clipped. I like to photograph hands, which is obviously a personal preference, but regardless who your photographer is, your hands will most likely show up somewhere in your photographs. Just word of advice.

For the Ladies:

  • I would err on the side of heavier makeup (just a little), because in my experience, it never shows up as strong on camera as it does in the mirror. Usually foundation, blush, bronzer, etc, all show up great, but the eye makeup is where it’s at. I always end up darkening eyebrows and eyelashes a little bit, because it seems like light likes to sneak into the hairs, lightening them on camera. Food for thought.
  • Same grooming as with the boys. Nails trimmed (or manicured), hair sprayed to reduce strays, etc. Don’t experiment with crazy hair colors or haircuts RIGHT before your photo session.

Leiandie and Jarom (15 of 17)

Lastly, never forget to smile and have as much fun as possible!!!! The best pictures are the ones that always happen organically. I’ve been there, with a fussy baby and cranky hubby, but if you can get as much fun out of it as possible, you can come away happy with your pictures. :)

And that’s all folks! Thanks for reading. Hopefully this was a helpful read for photographers and models alike!


One Comment on “5 Tips to Make the Most of Your Portrait Session | A Photographer’s Perspective

  1. First, amazingly gorgeous photos! Great job! Seconds.. great tips.. I am always clueless with clothing. Often times I leave it up to my husband. He is really good at that part.