You’ve decided to make the investment and hire a professional photographer. After searching for weeks and going through tons of portfolios, you finally found someone with a style you’re obsessed with. If you’re like most people, you aren’t used to being in front of the camera or making arrangements with a photographer, but that isn’t a problem. In this article I’ll give you tips on what to expect, how to relax in front of the camera, and what to wear.
The more you know up front, the more comfortable you’ll be with both the arrangements and being in front of the camera. Ask your photographer whether they have a contract, if you need to pay a retainer, what you should wear, how long it’ll take to get the photos. Ask as many questions as you can think of! Your photographer will be more than willing to help you out. The more knowledgeable you feel the more confident you’ll be.
Communication is vital for both parties. Tell your photographer exactly what you want, and they’ll tell you whether or not it’s possible. The more questions you ask and the more communication that goes on up front, the more your expectations will be met.
Finding a photographer with a style you like is very important. If your photographer does mostly dark and desaturated photos, don’t expect to get light and airy photos back. Most photographers find a style they like and stick to it. That being said, your photographer probably isn’t going to edit the photos as to be indistinguishable from their usual style, nor will they give you unedited photos. How your photographer edits their photos is an important part of their style. It’d be like handing over a half finished project if they wouldn’t edit them. Communicating your expectations and what you’re looking for upfront will save you potential disappointment.
Being nervous is one of the most frequent things I hear from my clients (especially men, sorry fellas). Having a professional take your photos with a bunch of lighting gear around you can be intimidating, I know. The best thing you can do is not worry about it, act like it isn’t there, and pretend it’s just another day in the park. Your photographer is a master at making people look good and comfortable. A good photographer will also give you feedback that you are in fact nailing your shoot. The best expressions come when they are captured candidly.
Some people are also very picky with how they look in pictures, and that’s ok. I have a theory about why that is, and also why you shouldn’t worry about it. 95% of the time when people see themselves it’s in the mirror. Everyone’s face has slight asymmetries, and when a picture is taken, the image is flipped from that of a mirror. This flip makes the viewer aware of the asymmetries they are used to seeing the other way around. I think this is the main reason why apps like Snapchat don’t flip the images, they are taken as if they were viewed in a mirror. This is also why you shouldn’t worry too much about it, everyone else in your life is used to seeing you normally, without a mirror. I guarantee you look great, you’re just not used to seeing yourself that way.
Being posed can be nerve-racking. It’s not a natural thing we do in our lives, spontaneously trying to look good in a semi-uncomfortable position. I can’t speak for other photographers, but the phrase I live by is “playing not posing”. I direct my clients into a general position and then ask that they improvise with it. If you’re not trying to do a very specific pose you’ll feel more comfortable and also look more natural. I really try to get my clients moving and interacting. Whether it’s a couple dancing together, a family chatting, or a high school senior throwing a ball, I always try to incorporate movement. I promise you I will never do the high school year book “can you tilt your head to the right” trope.
Posing for families can be more complicated but it’s not something to worry about. If there are young children in your family, they probably won’t be looking at the camera for all the photos. but that’s not a problem! I usually take five to ten photos per pose to ensure everyone is looking. If there aren’t any photos with everyone looking, I can swap in parts of a different photo in which they are looking.
The best advice for make up can be boiled down to three words; keep it simple. If you’re doing your own make up, stick to something you’ve done often. A photoshoot may not be the best time to experiment. You also need to think about longevity. Will the make up that’s in style now hold up for another 20 years or will you roll your eyes later on?
My most frequently asked question by far is “what should I/we wear?” This of course depends on what type of shoot you have planned, but here are some general guidelines. No matter what kind of shoot you have planned, the biggest thing is to avoid bright or neon colors. Bright red, green, pink, blue, orange, or yellow all photograph poorly. Pure white and pure black can present issues as well depending on the lighting conditions. It’s difficult for cameras to accurately reproduce bright colors, and it’s also easily for them to become so bright that they will blow out. Cameras can only see a fraction of what our eyes can, as far as contrast and colors go. Sticking to muted and earthy colors is always a safe bet.
High School Seniors
Wear something that is timeless. Things go in and out of fashion, some things faster than others. You may not think so now but you probably want your photos to hold up for awhile, which might mean staying away from the current style. Suits, dresses, button downs, sweaters, and non-holey jeans will always be in style. Wear something you feel confident in!
For the most part, you should wear what you’d wear on a fancy night out. Gentlemen: dress shoes, dark jeans, button downs, sweaters, polos, or a sport coat are all great options. Ladies: dresses, skirts, jeans, sweaters, and dressy tops are all great. As far as footwear, the only thing you might want to avoid are high heels. Depending on the location, you may end up walking through some mud or lose soil. Wear something that compliments each other, not necessarily matching. For instance, gray and tan or blue and white tops will go well together. You definitely don’t have to wear the same colors to look good together!
There are two common approaches to family photo shoots; wearing what everyone is comfortable in or coordinating outfits. Personally, I prefer when families avoid dressing identically. Everyone wearing jeans and a white button down is pretty cheesy. By all means, coordinate though. For example, If everyone wears earthy tones or different shades of blue, it’ll look great!
This one is pretty much a given, you’ll probably be in a dress or a suit. This is most likely the one instance where you won’t have to worry about what anyone is wearing. Hopefully all your guests will come dress to the nines!
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