10 Tips on how to prepare for your session (for girls)

Dance portraits of Amy. Part of the series “Dancers in unusual locations.” Photo by Dave Dabour

Preparation Tips for Senior Girls

Now that you’ve booked your session, we have a few tips for you to help you get ready for your close up. Follow these guidelines the weeks leading up to your session and we’ll take care of the rest!

  1. Choose two to three outfits to wear during your session and lay them out so they are ready to go. Make sure they are clean and wrinkle-free.
  2. Also, don’t forget to pack any accessories you’ll want for each outfit – jewelry, scarves, headbands, etc. Bring matching socks/tights, and shoes for each outfit if one pair won’t go along with all of them.
  3. While you’re at it, if you plan on bringing any props – your ballet shoes, favorite book, softball gear, etc. – go ahead and lay that out as well. If you are going to bring your car to the session and want it to be in photos with you, be sure to wash it the night before/day of your session.
  4. Get a good night’s rest the night before so you can look well rested for your session.
  5. Get your hair cut about one to two weeks prior to your session. Don’t drastically change it from your normal style in case you don’t like it. Have the hair stylist show you some easy styles you can do during outfit changes to switch it up a bit.
  6. Practice your makeup the week leading up to your session so you can get it just right the day of. We do offer professional makeup artist services with several of our packages. This is something we strongly suggest you look into for your session.
  7. If you wake up two days prior to your session, or the morning of, and acne has appeared on your face – don’t pick at it and make it worse while trying to get rid of it. Apply some makeup over the area (not too heavy) and leave it at that. We offer basic retouching, which includes blemish removal; so don’t even worry about it.
  8. Get a manicure the day before or day of your session to ensure your nails look their best. Don’t forget that the color needs to match all of your outfits. For this reason, and to keep a clean appearance, we suggest going with the French manicure or just a clear coat of paint.
  9. Practice a nice natural smile and cute poses in a mirror or send us over some things we can talk to you about that will help you relax – your favorite movie, your boyfriend, etc.
  10. If you are doing a session with your BFF or BF, don’t forget to coordinate an outfit with them so you guys don’t clash.

Firefighter Portraits

For some time now I’ve wanted to try taking some portraits of local firefighters. I didn’t want these to be formal photographs. I wanted them to be gritty – show the true meaning and depth it takes in volunteering to be a firefighter.

I had three local firefighters volunteer to be models and photographed them recently. Some were in front of a green screen and used to create a composite. Others were taken in front of one of the engines.

I wanted these to be lite differently and on the dark side.

Additional photos are available here.

Clothing Tips For Portraits

This Is All For YOUR Benefit!

The selection of proper clothing for your portrait is a critical factor in the preparation for a successful portrait.

If the clothing is noticeable in a portrait, it could easily become a distraction. Clothing that does not attract attention to itself is the ultimate goal. It could be the difference between a very successful portrait and just another picture. We can not stress enough how important it is for you to observe the following criteria. It is quite possible that if inappropriate clothing is selected, the photographer may ask you to change your selection before the portrait sitting is made.

Dark Clothing Tends to Slenderize

Darker clothing helps to blend the bodies with the background, so that the faces are the most important part of the photograph. Dark colors definitely tend to slenderize the subject. Light colors seem to add weight to the bodies.

The color of the clothing should always be toned down. Bright colors attract attention away from the face. Colors MUST be dark and not bright. This is ESSENTIAL! When choosing lighter colors, stick to pastels, but avoid pink tones. Pale yellow and pale blue work well, especially with jeans or kaki pants.

Prints and any kind of pattern – no matter how small – become a distraction.

In the case of digital portraits, in particular, small patterns in clothing (even a small herring-bone or checkered pattern) can cause terrible distortions to appear in the portrait that are not originally there.

Avoid Short Sleeve Clothing and Short Pants

Long sleeved clothing is desirable. For casual portraits it is equally important to wear long pants instead of shorts. When arms and legs are exposed to the camera there will be more flesh in the photograph in those areas than on the face, itself. This is a major distraction.

White shirts and/or blouses under a dark jacket are perfect. A scarf loosely tied around the neck also helps to frame a face beautifully when a collarless blouse or sweater is worn. Neckties should definitely be toned-down in color and with a minimum of pattern.

Group Portraits

Clothing for group portraits must be carefully selected to blend the bodies together. First, decide whether the basic tone of the clothing will be warm-toned (browns, etc.) or cool-toned (blues/grays/blacks, etc.) Then, make sure to follow all of the above instructions. Keeping a group in similar colors focuses the attention of the portrait to the faces and individuals that make up the portrait. Dissimilar colors in groups tend to be more distracting.

Proper Necklines for a Portrait

The most flattering neckline for anyone is something that comes up close to the neck. A wide-open neckline tends to thicken the neck in a photograph. On the other hand, a neckline that comes up to the base of the neck – a turtleneck or a v-neck top is the most flattering. It tends to slim down the person and frames the face beautifully.

Finally, lay out all the clothing onto a bed. Shoes, socks, stockings (dark hose is mandatory) – everything should be included…shoes, too! Then, take a careful look at the collection. If your eye goes to any one item in particular, you can be certain that the same thing will happen in a photograph. That item should be changed.

Clothing should not be too tight or too loose. Clothing below the waistline should be darker than above. Otherwise, even light jeans worn below a darker top could easily attract attention to the lower part of the body and away from the face.

Casual Beach Portraits

For a beach portrait session it is sometimes a good idea to dress in light colored clothing, so that the bodies will blend with the light-colored sand. In this situation all white or pastel clothing works fine. Avoid pink shirts. All white clothing is great. White shirts and jeans work well, too. White shirts with beige pants is even better. Staying all in light tones can be very effective in this type of environment. Still, remember to dress everyone in the portrait similarly. You have to blend the bodies of everyone together, so that the faces stand out. This is essential particularly in a group portrait.

Hair Style and Makeup

Hair styles should be SIMPLE and MUST be off the face. Hair falling down onto the sides of the face (currently very much in style) create distracting shadows. Bangs that come down too low onto the face will keep light from getting into the subject’s eyes – the very most important part of the face. Eye makeup should be blended – no sharp demarcation lines between colors. AVOID WHITE above or below the eyes. It does not photograph well at all. Too much color above and below the eyes attracts attention to itself. It actually takes attention AWAY from the eyes, rather than attracting the viewer to the eyes. Foundation makeup should be blended at the jawline, so that there is no demarcation between the face and the neck.

Glasses

Eye glasses may or may not be worn. Non-reflective lenses, of course, are a big help. Better yet, sometimes it’s possible to obtain a matching set of frames without any lenses. This is particularly helpful, if your lenses sometimes distort the outline of your face.

Final Thoughts

Your portraits are meant to be enjoyed for generations to come. Fad-type clothing should be avoided, unless you are planning to have new portraits made annually.

You will feel very rewarded when you view your photographs. All of your efforts will be worthwhile.

Portions reused with permission from James Hodgins.

Amanda & John

Amanda & John pose for some pre-wedding photos. They both will be tying the knot in less than one month.

If at all possible I like to meet with the bride and groom 1-3 months before their wedding day to not only get to know them a little better, but to also get one great couple shot I can put on a business card that also acts as a keepsake at the wedding.

Additional photos can be found here.

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