Client Prep Cheat Sheet
Hair – If you’re getting a haircut for your shoot, do so about two weeks beforehand, just in case it goes wrong – you just never know. For men, a fresh cut a couple of days before the shoot is fine. If you have curly hair but would like it straight for the shoot you may want to take into consideration the weather. If you know that it will be humid on the day of your shoot, you may NOT want to straighten in.
Hair accessories – If you’re shooting outdoors, be ready to put your hair up and make it look nice in case of a windy day. Bring bobby pins, hair clips, headbands or any other favorite accessories.
Glasses – If folks wouldn’t recognize you without glasses, you want to wear glasses in your shoot – however, the glare on glasses can detract from your eyes in photos. You can have your lenses removed from your frames for your shoot (don’t worry, it’s what Hollywood does to avoid glare in movies), ask your eye doctor to loan you a pair of similar frames, or you can also visit an inexpensive company online and buy a suitable pair of duplicate frames on the cheap. This is even more important if you wear Transition glasses that change according to the sun. Transition glasses hide your eyes and cannot be corrected in Photoshop. UV protected glasses also reflect a green glare that cannot be corrected.
Red eyes – Visine is your friend.
Lips – You will probably wipe or lick your lips during your shoot, so bring fresh lip gloss or lipstick to do touch-up. Use lip balm for a few days in advance of your shoot to make your smoochers look their best.
Teeth – If you want to brighten your smile, start your treatments about two weeks before your shoot.
Breakouts – Start using African Black Bar Soap for a week in advance of your shoot to help reduce and limit pimples and blemishes. Equally important, don’t cake on a lot of make-up to try to hide blemishes – it’s almost always easier to Photoshop away pimples than to clean up overdone make-up. For fever blisters use Abreva if one pops up anyway. For oily skin, bring powder to reduce glare from flash or lights.
Make-up – A subtle application of make-up can really soften your skin and accent your facial features. But make sure you know what you’re doing, and make sure it matches your skin tone, or your face may look orange compared to the rest of your body.
Facial hair – Men, be freshly shaved with a new razor, shaving cream and a moisturizing after-shave lotion to avoid bumps and redness. Trim up your board, sideburns, moustache or goatee, especially looking for wiry stray hairs. Ladies, even if you have some light facial hair (particularly around your lip or chin), indulge in a waxing in advance of your shoot – even barely-there light facial hair will be noticeable in your photos. Men and women both, pluck and clean up those eyebrows.
Moisturizer – Dry skin can really detract from a great photo shoot. Start moisturizing nightly a week in advance of your shoot. When you get out of the shower, dry off until lightly damp, and slather on moisturizer. Focus on your arms, shoulders, neck, face, hands, anywhere you’ll be exposed to the camera. This includes your legs if you’re shooting in shorts or a skirt. Also, be sure on your face to use a facial moisturizer, not a thick body moisturizer, or you could break out. [Men, of course, are most in need of this advice, especially around the face and hands.]
Nails – A fresh coat of nail polish will make a world of difference in your photo shoot. Pick a neutral color that won’t distract in your shoot or clash with your outfits. Freshen the morning of the shoot, then be careful not to scuff it while prepping. Your photo shoot is a great excuse for a fresh manicure, but if you can’t go to the salon, make sure your nails look tidy and clean, including the cuticles.
Eyebrows – Groom and shape them accordingly.
Bloating – Avoid high salt and high fat foods for two to three days in advance of your shoot. Being bloated will sap your confidence and comfort in front of the camera.
Undergarments – Bra straps won’t do anything to help your outfit look its best. Be sure you bring a set of bras and strap-adjusting accessories to work with any outfit you want to shoot in to keep those straps well-hidden. Removal of bra straps will be an additional charge of $25.00 per image.
Sunburns and tan lines – If your shoot is booked for Saturday, don’t go to the beach on Friday. If you plan to tan before your shoot, do so at least a week beforehand and don’t get burned. Be mindful of clothing tan lines, sunglass tan lines, hat tan lines, etc.
Ironing – If you iron, iron the night before and then hang the clothes for your shoot. If you’re wearing something that wrinkles easily, don’t wear it in the car on the way to the shoot – just change at the location. If you choose a garment that may fold or fall in a manner that one does not like, it may be best to bring extra clothes.
Shoes – Ladies, can’t go wrong in heels or wedges. Men, clean’em up! Dress shoes are best.
Some practical things to consider for flattering posing:
Avoid arms falling straight down at their sides. This makes arms appear larger and it also creates that static appearance. Position arms on hips, up against a wall or fence, overhead, in pockets…front or back…anything that shows movement.
Be sure to pay attention to your posture. Most people tend to slouch when they are comfortable…and while you want you to look comfortable you don’t want to look slouched.
If you like a particular pose, try to change it up a bit by looking in a different direction…off to the side, down, up…all can give very different looks to the same pose.
Ladies in a sitting position: make sure to show movement in your legs. You want to avoid having your legs appear stuck together…especially at a side angle. Have one or both legs bent at the knees, at differing heights to show more fluidity in the pose.
Be mindful of limbs…a slight bend at the elbows and knees in every pose will always make the image look more natural. Also…in standing positions, balance your weight more on one side that the other since that is the way that we naturally stand.
I will never shoot straight on. Even a very slight turn of the hips creates a much more natural look.
Here are some specific suggestions for certain types of shoots:
Moisturize that belly!
Gather your props to bring along – ultrasound printout, alphabet blocks that spell your baby’s name, baby shoes, stuffed animals, flowers, whatever you’ve seen in other maternity photos that you like.
Wear whatever you feel comfortable and pretty in – long, flowy skirts, especially solids are nice, and strapless bras that coordinate with them. Tube dresses are great for showing off your shape. Bring a pair of regular jeans, not the belly panel ones. A button-up shirt also makes it easy to transition into showing your belly.
If you’re doing semi-nude/implied nude photos, bras and underwear will create noticeable lines on your skin, so wear loose-fitting clothing to the shoot. You can add undergarments as necessary for photos later in the shoot.
Do bring your significant other! They’ll make a great prop for your photos, and greatly expand on the number of different photos you can make during your shoot. They should bring outfits that coordinate with what you’ll be wearing. The focus should always be on you, your expressions, your emotions, your personality, your joy and your connection.
Newborns and Babies
Use a washcloth to clean away flaky skin and eye boogers.
Trim those tiny fingernails and toenails with appropriate baby trimmers.
Book your shoot around your baby’s feeding and nap times, work with the natural rhythm of your baby. The perfect time to shoot is right when the baby would be laying down for a nap. If your baby normally falls asleep after a feeding, wait to feed the baby until you’re at the shoot. Baby photographers allot plenty of time for this sort of thing to set up the best situation for great photos.
Dress up paper diapers. Cloth diapers are classy and stylish, but if you don’t use them, bring bloomers or decorative diaper covers, solids preferred.
Nothing is the best wardrobe for a newborn – no outfit fits a newborn well, and they often look swallowed in clothes. Accessories are good, though – little hats, dainty headbands, boys in crocheted hats, etc. Bring sentimental items like the quilt that Grandma made for the baby, a baby blanket from your own childhood – they’re great for the youngster to lay on.
If your baby takes a pacifier, bring it – if they’re bottle fed, bring an extra bottle to help put the baby to sleep.
Clean, clean, clean – clean nails, clean hair, wipe away eye boogers, clean feet (sandals on kids = black feet!), wipe snotty noses, fresh-scrub teeth. The cleaner the kid, the better their photos will turn out.
If your child is still in diapers or pull-ups, tuck’em in or wear bloomers.
If your child is still of napping age, make sure they nap before the shoot.
It is perfectly okay to bring bribes to a photo shoot – given a stage and being the center of attention, it’s like our kids know exactly when to act their worst. Some cereal, smarties or other candy that won’t stain teeth can help a short photo shoot go by smoothly.
Avoid colorful drinks or lollypops within 24 hours of your shoot, don’t let them eat or drink anything that will stain their face, teeth or mouths.
Wardrobe – For girls, you can’t go wrong with cute dresses, rompers, and dainty hats or headbands. For boys, jeans and polos or a button-up shirt, or a T-shirt with a button-up over it can be very cute, as well as overalls on the right age and personality. For siblings, the children don’t have to match perfectly, just coordinate. You can’t go wrong with dark, rich monotones, which drive the attention in photos to sweet faces and darling expressions instead of loud prints or colors. If nothing else, pick a color that compliments your child’s eye color.
Dad – Have a fresh shave or trim, and use a new razor, shaving cream and a moisturizing after-shave lotion to limit bumps and redness. Make sure nails are clean and trimmed. Wash your hands. Clean up your shoes. Moisturize and scrub away flaky facial skin (see above General advice). For wardrobe, go for jeans or pants, tucked polo or dress shirt with a belt, or go casual with just a T-shirt or untucked polo, button-up short sleeve, etc. In general, whatever your wife tells you to wear. Again you don’t have to perfectly match the rest of the family, just wear something that coordinates.
Mom – Women know what to wear, but if you need help, I will create a Pinterest board just for you for outfit ideas. If you wear jewelry, aim for subtlety, and be aware of it twisting or turning while we are shooting. I am always as thorough as possible but I miss a crooked necklace every now and then.
Kids – Same advice as above, but again, everything needn’t match, simply coordinate with the parents’ outfits. If Dad’s in a T-shirt, don’t put the kids in dress shirts – make it make sense.
High School Seniors
The biggest tips for seniors are to have an even tan, don’t get sunburned, clean and freshly-paint those nails, and moisturize and scrub away dry skin.
Bring a variety of outfits – something casual, something stylish, ladies slip a dress in there to throw folks off, fellas try a formal look to impress. Wear what you think you look best in, but take the opportunity to also try a new look, just to surprise folks.
Bring props that recall your high school years – band instrument, sports gear like a volleyball or baseball bat, your beloved (or cursed) high school car, letter jacket, sunglasses. Most of all, rep your style, whatever that may be. Your senior photo should be unique to your life and personality.