How to prepare for your portrait session

A tanning bed in use.

Image via Wikipedia

Your  best portrait will occur when you collaborate with me on your objectives for the portrait. This way if you have specific interests or goals for your portrait, I can work towards achieving them. We can meet in person which is best or we can discuss on the phone. I find that email is not an effective way to work out the collaboration. Ultimately, you need to be comfortable that I understand what you need and desire from the portrait session. I will do my level best as your photographer to meet your goals.

Here in Southern California, we are in the capital of sunshine and tans. But these things do not always work out well for your portrait. Please, please, please (did I say please?)  avoid the “spray tans” or “self tanning” products as they will not go on evenly and they will leave an uneven build up on unusual areas. Many of the spray tans will actually turn an orange in the pictures. Please do not use a tanning bed or lay out in the sun three days or so before the portrait. Sunburn is virtually impossible to remove well in post and makes the skin dried out and unsightly in the photographs even with good makeup.

Please avoid drugs, alcohol, excessive salt or too much partying the night before (24 hours). All of these will show in the portraits with issues ranging from bloated skin to droopy eyes, blood shot eyes and lines in the face not to mention the odd hangover. Keeping yourself well hydrated a day before the shoot will help your skin look it’s best.

Plenty of rest the night before is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your portrait. Your eyes and temperament will thank you by the end of the day.

Lets touch on marks in the skin. If you want to shoot something off the shoulder, strapless or the like, please do not wear a normal bra for several hours before the shoot. Either go without or go strapless and give the skin a chance to smooth out from the normal strap line over the shoulder. This also holds true for tight sleeves and other tight clothing. Lines in the skin require extra retouching and it’s best to avoid them as much as possible.

Please come to the shoot after you have eaten a small meal. Hunger pains makes it hard for you to concentrate on your shoot and eating too much leaves you ready for a nap instead of being awake for the shoot.

make up artist preparing model for her photo session at Redgum

If a make up artist/stylist is to be used for your portrait, then please arrive with a clean and fresh face. When the make up artist has to scrub down your face, it takes away from the time available for the shoot.

Make sure you allow plenty of time to pack and to arrive a bit early to the shoot. This will help you be calm when it comes time to actually shoot your portraits. Unless you do this often, a check list will go far to help you from forgetting key items your outfits.

And talking about outfits, use outfits that fit well, not the favorite outfit that is two sizes too small or the oversized but comfortable clothes. Do not forget nice shoes, even if they dont show, they help you feel your best while posing for the camera. A favorite piece of jewelry can help set off an outfit and scarfs, headbands and ear rings can really dress up an outfit. If you want a more “Classic” look, bring some pearls, they always add a touch of elegance to a portrait. But too many rings or too gaudy of a piece of jewelry will detract from your portrait.

If you are having a group portrait, pay attention to what your partners or family members are wearing in both color and texture. Paisley and plaid really do not go together and no amount of photoshop will help. Keep in mind the type of pictures you want, if you like the dark background, wearing dark clothes will just make it harder to get a clean shot.  White on white is the same problem. While I can shoot either well, why make it hard? And if you tell me you want a more formal portrait, please do not think that a pressed T-Shirt is formal (really happened once).

 

 

Christmas Card from Belmont Park photo shoot

Christmas Card from Belmont shoot

Kids are a bit different and we all need to accept that up front. Their favorite clothes are probably not yours so the trick is to bring both sets. We can shoot their favorite first in exchange for changing into something you would prefer to see. For the smaller family members, a favorite toy or soft friend can go a long ways to comforting the child in a strange place with really bright lights in their face. I find that a few books with mom or dad reading stories can have a wonderful calming effect, besides, it can make a fantastic image.

 

 

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