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How to Prepare for a Professional Photo Session

Getting your picture taken can be a daunting task. And a professional portrait photo shoot and/or head shots bring their own stresses. Here are some tips to make your shoot as painless—and successful—as possible:

Create an inspiration board. Pinterest is great for this. Pin all sorts of things you like and describe what you like about them in the comments—lighting, setting, posture, pose, outfit, etc.

Get the photographer involved with your process and ask for their ideas. Share your inspiration board with your photographer ahead of time and get them involved with the shoot planning process. Chances are they have a lot of experience and can see potential issues or opportunities. Here is a link to Hidden Hatchet's Pinterest page:

Put together a shot list. What poses and set-ups do you absolutely need to get? Make a list and figure out how many there are and what needs to be done to achieve each one. Don’t move on until you’re sure you got it.

Make a pre-shoot chore list. If your shoot is taking place in your home or office, chances are there might be some little projects that need to be tackled before the shoot—artwork that needs to be hung, cleaning that needs to be done, flowers purchased. Regardless of where the shoot takes place, things will come up. Maybe the eyebrows need some tending or the bangs a trim.

Test out your shots and poses. If you know you want a photo of you working at your desk, sit there and have a friend, coworker, or sweetie take a couple of shots of you posing. Review the shots and see what works and what doesn’t. This can help save a lot of time when it’s time for the shoot.

Plan your outfits (from earrings to shoes and everything in between) and then have a LOT of back-ups.

You have four perfect and complete looks and you’ve tried them all on. They all make you feel powerful, stunning, and comfortable. But once the camera starts snapping, that shirt just doesn’t look right with that background. Or maybe the earrings need to be a bit more statement-y. Have a handful of alternate tops, jackets, and accessories ready just in case.

Make hair and makeup as easy as possible.

If you can get a team to come to you, do it. You have a lot to do to get ready for this shoot, you don’t need the stress of spending half your day running from salon to Sephora.

Print out reference photos of the looks you like.

Have your hair and makeup look(s) planned and reference photos on-hand for your stylists. Printing them out is better than pulling them up on your phone so they’re in front of everyone the whole time. Make sure you are 100% satisfied with the styles before they leave—a bad blow-out can ruin a whole shoot!

Trust the experts. As long as you communicate clearly with your photographer, makeup artist, hair stylist, and anyone else helping pull the shoot together, then you should be able to trust their expertise.

Skip the coffee. Once the camera comes out, the adrenaline starts pumping. If you’re caffeinated on top of that, you will feel jittery and might end up looking less-than natural and relaxed.

Look like a boss. You want to look powerful and confident in your professional portraits, right? Research shows that spending a minute or two holding a “power stance” can actually boost your confidence. Try standing with your legs and arms out wide like you’re making a big X with your body before you get in front of the lens. If it’s a headshot, but you want to come across as self-assured, try putting your hands on your hips ; even though this won’t be obvious up in the picture, the power will still show up on your face.

Go easy on the retouching. Any photographer will tell you, it’s better to get the shot as close to perfect as possible in person. “You can fix that in Photoshop, right?” is not what they want to hear. And it makes sense—real is always going to look better. And while there’s nothing wrong with wanting to enhance your best features and clean up a stray hair, it’s crucial you still look like you.

And now… Lights, camera, ACTION!

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