1. Your photographer cannot read your mind. If there are things you are self-conscious about or find you or your family members do nervously that you don't want to be captured on camera tell us. I send a pre-shoot questionnaire to you so that I can have at least an idea of these things before our shoot but where you might see what you consider your flaws, I may see beauty or a cool pose.
Don't like your arms? We can pose around that? Have a nervous habit of putting your hands in your pockets but hate the way it looks? Tell me beforehand and I'll be conscious of it and let you know when you're doing it.
2. Have an idea of what you are looking for. Style matters. Your photographer usually has a very unique style and cannot always adapt to your vision, so the first step is to make sure you're choosing a photographer whose work and style you already admire. You're going to be disappointed if you want light, airy photos and you choose a dark and moody photographer.
Also research! use Pinterest or Instagram, find photos and poses that you like and show them to your photographer. We'll pose you but the poses we choose might not be exactly what you have in your mind, if you have a specific pose you want to try out, let us know.
Some clients even line to create their own mood board to send ahead of time of the kind of colours they'll be wearing, the type of poses and photos they like. This can be incredibly helpful.
3. Budget. Booking a photographer can seem expensive but there are a few things to consider. There are costs associated with us to take, edit, store your digital files. There is the cost of the photography and lighting equipment, insurance on these, and cost of programs such as Lightroom, Photoshop. There's also the cost of the memory cards and external hard drives to store all the raw images. Not to mention the website and hosting costs for the client sites we share your photos on.
This is why so many photographers don't always include digital files in their session cost because the cost is the cover JUST those expenses mentioned and their initial time.
Speaking of our time. We may only spend around an hour with you on the day of the shoot but there is a lot going on behind the scenes. We are prepping, planning, scouting your location, we are spending hours and hours organizing and editing the photos after. Sometimes we can spend an hour just on one photo, making sure the light and white balance is just right, cropping and editing things out of the background of just the 'perfect' outdoor shot where someone walked by.
These aren't just your point and shoot photos, we make sure they are the best they can be and we have to tools to make them that way.
So make sure you discuss prices, what it includes, what extras may cost. Packages include usually a set time, a set amount of images. Most photographers have an hourly rate and a per image rate so if you know you want an extra half hour in your session, or 5 more images than included those are things that can be set up a head of time!
4. The Small Details. You don't have to rush out to the barber or beauty salon the day of your photo shoot for an updo or a full face of makeup, but little things can make a huge difference. For example, nails. Chipping polish or broken, dirty fingernails can be distracting in a photo. Bare nails are fine if they're clean so clean off that old polish. This goes for your toes too if they're going to be in the frame.
Don't do anything too new or wild before the shoot. Like first spray tan, or waxing your lip. We absolutely don't want anyone looking too orange or red in their photo. Do these kinds of things the week before to give some time for it to settle.
Clean, styled hair. Greasy hair is hard to work with and doesn't look the best on camera.
The same goes for rings and other jewelry. Clean or polish them the day of.
Skin. drink plenty of water leading up to your shoot, clean and moisturize your skin. Blemishes are easy to edit, but dry flakey patches or scabs and scrapes are a lot more difficult.
If you are a shaver, make sure you've touched that up too.
5. Pick a coordinating wardrobe. You might not be a fashion model but you still want your clothes to look good. Plan your outfits well in advance, let your photographer know what colours you're planning on wearing and what style. They may bring additional wardrobe pieces and props to compliment your outfit. Make sure the clothes are clean and wrinkle-free. No little stains, iron and/or steam any wrinkle-prone fabrics. Bring them on hangers.
Also coordinate. If you're going a shoot with multiple people try to coordinate your outfits. You don't have to match, but try to keep within a similar theme. Earth tones or Shades, Whites. Or pick a grouping of colours you like and everyone can mix and match with those 3-4 shades. You want to compliment one another not distract.
6. Don't get too caught up in traditional Poses. Honestly, sometimes the best photos are the unplanned and chaotic ones. Especially with kids. They are high energy and unpredictable so if they want to run off and peek out from a tree trunk (see above) let them! There is nothing worse than that 'awkward family photo' where everyone's still and forcing a smile. Just relax, be you, laugh, smile, interact.
If they want to run off and climb the rocks and fence, let them! They'll look a whole lot happier if they're having fun.
So will you.
7. Location, Location, Location. Now, you may have a specific spot in mind that is great but your photography may be unfamiliar with the area and have to do some scouting and if it's far enough outside of their normal area of working they may charge for additional mileage. (For me it's once we are 25km outside of city centre). Let your photographer know why you're choosing this spot and any particular areas you really love so they can help feature you there the best.
8. Time of day. Now it may not always seem like the most 'convenient' thing, but Photographers, particularly those that shoot on location, are slaves to the Sun and this changes based on the time of year. The Summer Midday is the absolute worst time of day to photograph outside, the light is harsh the shadows unforgiving, so if we suggest a time of 6 or 7 pm ...it's because this will be the best. In the winter? We can't shoot past 4:30 pm or we're in the dark.
However, midday may be the perfect time of day to shoot in your home, depending on where the sun hits your home during the day, so when booking be aware of those things as well so you can inform your photography.
Of course, there are portable lights, reflectors, diffusers and flash to help with these things, but that is a lot more work, effort and oftentimes requires an additional shooter or assistant to come along.
If we give you a time frame, it's probably best to try and stick to it.
However, if we're stuck on a particular time (events, weddings, graduations etc) Listen to us! You may want photos in a certain spot but it may just not work. We don't want you all squinting in the bright light and washed out by the sun, we also don't want the harsh sun directly behind you casting shadows under your eyes and over your faces.
If we're keeping you in the shade, under the trees, away from the light...it's because that is where you look best, I promise you that.
9. Time is Money. Your photographer sets aside an allotted time for your session. Usually anywhere from 30 - 90 minutes depending on the session that you book. It is important to be on time because we schedule shoots with the time frame in mind. If you show up late you are eating into your own time and we will not go over.
So if you pay for a 60-minute session and we booked it at 5:30 pm but you don't show up until 5:45 or 6 pm then we only have the remaining time left. Often we have other photoshoots booked or client meetings to get to so our time is important. So is yours, by showing up late you are only doing yourself a disservice by giving yourself less time in front of the camera which means fewer photo opportunities and ultimately fewer photos to choose from.
If you cancel last minute, you lose your deposit and the photographer may not allow you to book a service with them again so be mindful of this.
10. Communicate. Basically, everything comes back to being in constant communication with your Photographer. If you book a shoot and then don't talk to us leading up to it, it becomes very difficult to prepare.
We all get busy but filling in those questionnaires, responding to the DMs and e-mails are all vital for the best possible experience for both you and your photographer. We want you to be happy and we also want to have an enjoyable experience with you so it's all about keeping that line of communication open.