Portrait Session Guide 2

Last May I wrote a blog post titled “Portrait Session Guide.” Ever since I’ve been sending it to clients to help ease their nerves and to feel prepared prior to our photo session. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

In the last year and a half since I wrote that post, I’ve learned more tips and tricks that I’ve been sharing with clients. I want to pass those on to you with a Portrait Session Guide Round 2. While this session is geared toward portraits, it can be applied to all sessions including engagements and family. It will prepare you whenever you’re being photographed.

From The Photographer!

I love taking portraits for various reasons. I enjoy getting to know people and chatting with clients from behind the lens. This helps folks relax and forget about the camera. When you’re just chatting with a friend, it’s easier to have your picture taken, rather than feeling like a lens is shoved in your face. 

Generally people don’t like having their picture taken or haven’t had a professional photo taken before. When I hear this, I work extra hard to make sure people enjoy the experience and feel empowered and confident in front of the lens. My goal is to deliver images you’ll be proud to share. If you’re a repeat client or have experience in front of the camera, I am always trying to bring new ideas or creativity to our shoot for a refreshing experience. 

Having your portrait taken can be a confidence booster. At times, society can make us feel like we’re not good enough or beautiful enough, but I disagree. We are all beautiful, and deserve to love ourselves and the skin we’re in. I strive to make clients feel good and have a positive experience being photographed.

The Most Important Part: Let’s have fun! 

I’ll direct you into the best light, and show you just how to stand in case you’re like, “What do I do with my hands?”. Sessions are a mix of posed photos and prompted photos, as I find that action and movement can lead to candid and genuine reactions. People tend to like photos where they feel like themselves, so having something to do like walking can bring that out! We’ll capture the classic smiling at the camera photo and I’ll try my best at a cheesy joke to get you to laugh. If you have special photo requests, just ask, otherwise, we’ll get a mix of posed and candid shots. 

Location, Location, Location

Portrait sessions are done on location not in a studio. I love using natural light and the environment to help tell your story and capture beautiful images. Depending on the vibe you want for your shoot, I’m happy to make intentional recommendations on location and time of day. Here are some examples:

  • Outside/natural - plants and greenery bring extra life to photos and can make for timeless portraits. Let’s go outside and use nature and light for beautiful photos! Recommendations: Cactus Garden at Capitol Park or the Rock Garden at William Land Park.
  • Outside/urban- Looking for a backdrop with a white wall, brick, or want something textured? Our city is filled canvases ready to be used as the background to your portrait. Recommendations: Old Sacramento
  • Indoors - Are you a writer or blogger? Let’s meet over coffee, bring your computer, notebooks, or current reads, and we can get the perfect action shot of you working. Recommendations: Identity Coffee, The Urban Hive, or your home or office! 
  • Photographer’s Choice - I’m constantly on the hunt for locations or keeping an eye on what foliage looks good at certain times of days. Recently I took photos around the G and 26th Street block in Midtown and found some gorgeous foliage. It looked like we were in Costa Rica and not Midtown. If you aren’t sure where to shoot or want something different than my most common rec’s, then leave the location up to me.  

What To Wear!

Wear your favorite outfit or what makes you feel the most confident. The best photos come when you aren’t worried about your outfit. Pick out your outfit in advance to avoid worrying about it the night before.

Neutral colors are best: black, white, gray, light blue/pink/yellow, tan, etc. Steer away from crazy patterns, extra bright colors, or big logos. Caveats are flowy floral patterned dresses, polka dots, or an insanely cute outfit you can’t resist wearing. The gist is, if it’s cute and you feel great in it, just wear it! I encourage clients to text me photos of their outfit if you’re not sure! Remember to iron or steam clothes. Lint brushes always come in handy. 

If we’re shooting somewhere outdoors or in front of greenery, don’t wear green. Red/magenta/yellow can really pop in front of foliage.  If it’s a team shoot, engagement, family, or multiple person session focus on coordinating rather than being extra matchy-matchy. 

Outfit changes are welcome on regular shoots (not mini sessions) if you want style options. Keep in mind that outfit changes cut into shoot time and not all places have a spot to change. Layering is good, and can help give the look of an outfit change. 


Props can be great for shoots, especially if you want to highlight a product or give yourself something to do! Usual props are sunglasses, a laptop, notebook, your pet, or any tools you want to highlight for your business. They can also include a blanket to sit on, sentimental items, and more. Flowers all welcome on all photo shoots! 


Stay hydrated. Get a good night’s rest the evening before. Eat 1-2 hours prior to the shoot, so you’re not hungry. Bring snacks if you need them (and especially if kids are around).

If you really want to get fancy, consider getting hair and make up done. If that’s not you, don’t feel obligated, but if you want some extra pampering, go for it! Something as simple as a haircut or manicure the week before can be great act of self-care and shoot prep. 

The Shoot

You’re ready! Let’s capture great photos and make memories in the process! 

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