How To Choose the Right Photographer
One of the best ways to ensure an amazing photoshoot is to do your research. Choosing the right photographer can be difficult if you aren’t sure what you’re going to want. Having a general idea of what you want ahead of time can help determine if a photographer is for you. A few basic things to keep in mind when choosing your photographer:
Does the photographer’s portfolio or blog have the style of photos you are wanting? (Color tones, mood/feel, posed vs candid)
Does the photographer offer the services you’re looking for?
Ask lots of questions in your sitdown
Which leads me to the next part
Schedule Your Sitdown Session
It’s very important to set some time aside before your shoot to meet with your photographer. I prefer to meet up with my clients face to face. It allows me to really get a feel for each person and ensure that we are on the same page throughout our discussion. However, that may not always be an option, in which case, a phone call or video chat will still help communicate your ideas.
Outline some of your thoughts, what you are thinking of wearing, any location suggestions, or even better, visual references for what it is that you want to accomplish.
That being said, often times my clients defer to me when it comes to some of those decisions - and I love that too. I love when my clients are okay with being themselves and just allowing me to give them a little direction, and see where we can both create a great idea together that feels natural to them.
Read Your Agreement
After you have your sit down and come to your agreed upon requests, it’s time to read thoroughly and sign your agreement. There’s some important stuff in there, and I want to make sure everyone knows what their part is and that way it makes everyone much happier overall!
This is also typically where most photographers (myself included) require the deposit to hold your spot.
My longest agreements are only 2 pages, so I try to keep it short and sweet!
3-6 Months Out
This is where most people feel the urge to go on a workout plan or change up their diet. While I always recommend consulting a doctor, I say do what is going to make you feel most comfortable. If you opt to go for a workout plan or diet change, I’d recommend doing it now.
I would try to encourage EVERYONE in the whole world to drink more water, and that is especially true for my clients. Drink lots of water to ensure that you are well hydrated. This helps everyone look and feel healthier. Additionally, often on shoot days we will be walking around a bunch, and it can be hot. I don’t want anyone to get dehydated or exhausted - that’s definitely no good.
1 Month Out
Time to whiten your teeth. This is by no means a requirement, but it definitely helps avoid having to whiten in Photoshop, which can be time consuming and in some cases an additional charge. Plus, I want everyone to show off their smile proudly!
Ideally, you have a pretty good idea of what you want to wear. If you already have it - high five! Otherwise, it’s probably time to start thinking about your outfit.
1 Week Out
Only 7 days until your shoot. At this point, I would not recommend trying out a new haircut, hair dye, skin care regiment, etc. If something doesn’t come out the way you want, or if your skin doesn’t react to a new lotion, you won’t have much time to change it.
You should have your clothes all ready to rock. If you haven’t got them sorted out yet, time to hustle. Below, I’ve put together a few suggestions on What To Wear.
Be sure to not be late! If something comes up, we may not be able to reschedule. If you know ahead of time you are going to run late, let your photographer know ASAP. If there’s enough notice, the shoot can sometimes be bumped to a different time slot.
Shave or clean up your beard if you do, and don’t forget to moisturize! I recommend coconut oil or similar, just be sure that it isn’t a new lotion that may irritate your skin, and also no baby oil or similar. It can make the skin appear shiny and greasy.
Be sure to clean in all the nooks and crannies and under your fingernails and behind your ears.
Don’t forget to brush and floss right before coming. You won’t want your lunch showing up in your photos! Some things can be fixed in photoshop, but really it’s a lot easier to be sure to hit them real quick before shoot time.
Shoes - Bring a pair that can get you comfortably to where we are going. To avoid any discomfort or potential injury, please bring a sturdy pair of shoes in case we need to walk/hike on uneven paths. With a lot of my shoots, we go in the mountains, and the trails can be pretty rocky and are really not great for heels.
If you want to wear heels, thats fantastic. But bring them along with your sturdy shoes and you can change into them once we’re in a good spot.
Hair - again try to avoid any major changes too close to shoot day in case it doesn’t go as planned. Please arrive with your hair done and held in place (at least as much as you’re comfortable with.)
What To Bring
Here’s a handful of useful items to bring along to ensure a smooth photoshoot.
If you have kids, (or messy adults) bring some moist towelettes or wet wipes.
Some large safety pins or clips - if something tears or rips, a safety pin will save the day! Also, sometimes these are used to make garments more form fitting - if that’s something you desire.
Extra pair of shoes if you are planning to have to do any walking not on trails
Water - especially for longer shoots or if we are going to be traveling far. I’d much rather a couple bathroom breaks rather than heatstroke.
If you are going to be outside, dress for the elements. If it’s February in Idaho, you’ll want to bring some nice gloves and a jacket at least.
A little lotion (coconut oil) before getting your photos done makes a huge difference - avoid too much and making the skin too greasy.
Some floss and a toothbrush
Tide Pens can be a day-saver!
Comb or Brush and any accompanying hair product. We shoot in the mountains a lot, and it can get windy.
Drinks or snacks if your shoot will be longer than an hour or two. I’d recommend avoiding anything too bloating or messy.
A good attitude makes a huge difference. I know that’s tough to always be the dictator of - sometimes we have a crap day. If we need to reschedule, I’d much rather that than have you always look at those pictures and think about how much fun you weren’t having.
If you are of legal drinking age (duh) and choose to do so, bring a shot glass and flask. I think it looks fun in photos, shows a bit of your personality through drink choice, and helps you relax a bit. This one is suggested with caution. Please use your best judgement - never more than one or two.
This is another bullet point just to restate the last sentence - Please use your best judgement - Never more than one or two.
What To Wear
Here are a few suggestions that tend to help when picking something to wear.
Black, white, grays, and greens are great go-to colors that go well for most occasions and seasons.
Dress for the occasion! It’s going to be a fun and exciting day, in a beautiful location with those you love. I always suggest stepping it up at least one notch from what you wear on a daily basis. I want you to feel a lil fancy when you get your photos taken. I believe it makes people feel more confident - which is exactly how I want everyone to feel when we are shooting.
I suggest to avoid wearing matching outfits. Your family doesn’t dress in matching outfits in your normal life, so it doesn’t feel “natural” in photos. I like to allow each persons personality show a little bit through their clothing style and choices.
Any backup outfit you can quickly change into if necessary
Accessories you can easily add or subtract - hats, scarves, jackets, etc It’s an easy way to diversify your look without requiring a full wardrobe change!
Remove hair-ties and pony tails from your wrists
These are just a few easy tips that I found helpful. Ultimately, wear what makes you feel confidant and comfortable. I want everyone to have photos of them that truly reflects who they are.
Make sure everyone is looking their best! I am not suggesting you have to be cookie-cutter perfect by any means, however just making sure to hit the basics of brushing hair, teeth, face, etc can make a huge difference.
Plan around nap time. Anyone who is overdue for a nap (adults too) are usually cranky, and not interested in getting their photos taken. Make sure everyone is nice and rested.
Consider your shoot time around meals. I try to aim for sometime after dinner - everyone is fed and happy, and also that happens to be the best daylight hours for photos.
I often shoot in the mountains or foothills, which means that while we are out getting a little dirty at times. Especially if you have little ones, I recommend grabbing an extra set of wet wipes, and an extra shirt/outfit - depending on how confident you are in them. I often encourage everyone to explore and play while we shoot, so plan accordingly to how you want your photos to look.
P.S. I also have clients that prefer to be a little dirty and dusty. Personally, I think that can be a genuine way to show your family. Sometimes when kids play outside they get dirty. I always try to show the truest version of yourself. Families don’t exist in perfect matching spotless polos.
This is a very pivotal point in your life. For the rest of your Life, there will be the time “before you graduated” and “after you graduated.” I think that is a damn good reason to celebrate! I will sometimes try to incorporate something that you love doing into your photos. I think that the things that we choose to do in our free time for enjoyment say a lot about us. I always want your photos to feel true to your personality.
I don’t ever set a limit on my seniors for number of outfits. H o w e v e r , I do have a recommendation - I say plan for about 20-30 minutes per outfit, not including change time. That isn’t a rule, just what I found works best for the clients I’ve had in the past.
Engagements are some of my favorite shoots! They are often some of the more creatives shoots I get to do, and it’s one of the last professional photos together before marriage. I want you two to really enjoy one another in that moment.
This is the big tamale!
I have learned a lot from my clients. I have asked many brides and grooms what they would recommend for future couples on their wedding day. There was a variety of answers, but they all followed this same couple of ideas: Here is the gist - adapted into two rules:
Slow down. I have shot weddings for over a decade, I can assure you that the day will speed by faster than you expect, so be sure to stop and take a few breaths and take in the moment.
Have fun and do your best to not stress. Something or someone will be running late, or something will inevitably go differently than expected - and that’s okay. This is going to be one of the best days of your life. Don’t let dry dinner rolls distract you from the beauty of your day.
Alright, now that we got those out of the way, let’s talk preparedness. And I mean a go-bag. This will be a little bag that contains everything you need to extinguish any wedding day “fires” and keep those from adding to any stress of the day. My recommendations, in no particular order:
Thread and Needle
Floss & Toothbrush/Paste
Razor or beard trimmer
Hair brush or comb
Floss & Toothbrush/Paste
I hope this has helped you feel more prepared for your shoot! I’m looking forward to working together!
If you found this helpful, I would love for you to share it with someone you know who is about to get photos taken.