Preparing yourself for a professional portrait photography session it takes more than just standing in front of the camera and wait for the personal photographer to use the camera. If you need a pro photo album but you can not afford to hire a PR Specialist then follow this guide for organizing the best photoshoot experience.
60 Days before the Photoshoot
Buy a calendar and start writing down the general idea of the concept you wish to follow in your photography session. Make a list of the reasons you need these photographs:
- Where are you going to use them? Will you update your LinkedIn profile and most of your social media accounts?
- Will you use them in your CV? or
- Is it only for personal use?
Everyone has some favorite spots in the city they live in. Add a list of your beloved locations in your town. Now take into consideration the date of the photoshoot. You see, in several cases, it is common that all locations can be a bit weather sensitive, regarding the season of the year. My photography was booked for the last weekend of June.
Fortunately, in Athens (Greece) the weather is mild until the end of November. Still, maybe strong winds could delete 10 locations from my 14 choices. After visiting the last 4 locations for one more time, I picked up the location with the following criteria:
- open space various options
- indoor options
- ability to change clothes
- approachable with different types of public transportation (because cars aren’t always available)
- friendly to the light corners
- with fewer cars
- with an acceptable amount of people in the background
- near nature backdrop
- near urban environment
- close to coffee and WC
How to find a personal photographer
Make a list of all the Top Personal Photographers you admire their portfolio. And send them a query for a first call. Make clear what you want, how many hours, and the reasons you want to have a Professional Photographer.
Skype video calls can help you recognize which photographer is closer to your mentality. Trust me, look for the chemistry and effortless communication in the skype call. You will know it if you can work with this one or the other photographer or the next!
Book your photographer in advance. Let him/her know the dates you will need them. Make sure to set a specific day for booking the photographer. I found mine 90 days before the photo day.
How I found my Personal Photographer
I was looking at her work in the Instagram and on her website. We had our first Skype call 59 days before the photoshoot. But I booked my photographer 9 days later. Only 50 days before the big day. It was my first photography project having myself as the theme and I was feeling nervous. After talking with Monika Kritikou all my anxiety disappeared. That is the first clue that you found the best match!
55 Days before the Photoshoot
Decide which outfits you will wear. Start with 8-10 combinations and use only the top 1-3 outfits. Hiring a Fashion Stylist could be difficult or too pricey. I suggest you trust your better judgment and your friends. If most of them have pointed out that some clothes make you look great, then add them in your options.
Remember that some colors agree better with us and some others are not so flattering! The same can happen with a certain quality of fabrics. It won’t be a good idea to choose fabrics that make you feel uncomfortable.
Wear the outfits and visit the location. Take a walk, see how you look by taking selfies and repeat it with the next outfit. Discover the best corners for each outfit, and take notes either in your calendar or on your phone.
50 Days before the Photoshoot
Wire the money and book the photographer. Set the first appointment at your chosen location and walk next to your Personal Photographer. Have your notes and draft photos with you. Share your ideas but let the professional photographer guide you on how to reach the best result.
Together you will create the project plan and probably you will add some new details or corners. A photographer’s eye sees things differently. See why you should Hire a personal photographer in this article.
40 Days before the Photoshoot
By now, you know for sure what you will wear. Try your makeup – as natural as possible – and pay a visit to the hairdresser to get your hair done. Book an appointment for one last big hairdo 20 days before the photo shoot and one more the morning of the photography session.
Organize your second or third makeup look by starting with the light shades and gradually add the darkest shades. That means for each outfit you should keep a clear note (with photos) of the makeup details. If you can afford to hire a MUA, then just do it. Please, try to avoid strong colors in your makeup. Social media and LinkedIn headshots need to be in softer versions…
Don’t forget the accessories like shoes, jewelry, belts… write down what you will take with you. It is a good idea to have everything you need in a trolley bag, like the ones we use for the 2 days trips.
Take care of your sleep routine and get into bed as early as possible. Don’t wait for the night before to have a good night sleep.
30 Days before the Photoshoot
I like to organize and plan ahead when it is possible. Keep notes of how many hours you will have natural sunlight. In my area, at the end of June, there are 10 friendly to the camera light conditions. Discover what time is the sunrise and the sunset.
I suggest you create a map of the best light conditions near the top corners and with that, you will have the final workflow in your hands. In my case, I had 3 perfect backdrops with natural light and 3 complete outfits to wear. The indoor locations had no time limitations.
If you find it difficult to pose in front the camera then don’t pose. Stay natural. But read some guides how to look at your best in a photography session. You won’t believe how valuable these Pinterest guides can be!
These particular Pinterest guides helped me to define my final outfits and the idea of the photography concept. Social media can be extremely helpful when you are looking for inspiration. And it is easier to communicate your idea to the photographer!
Of course, the location could define – in a way – what style you will choose. For example, indoor corporate environment won’t let you pick your blue jeans outfit, right? My spot was Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center. It has it all in one location! Office look, casual look, natural light, outdoor look and with an edgy design as a backdrop.
10 Days before the Photoshoot
Confirm all the details with your Personal Photographer and have a last check list for your outfit. Avoid too much sunbathing if you don’t want to look darker than usual.
Have a walk in your preselected spots while listening to music. This will help you to feel comfortable and connected with the location. For sure it helped me to feel like home!
5 Days before the Photoshoot
Check the local weather forecast. You don’t want rain or winds messing your photo session, right? Also, a face last minute soft cleaning is a must do. Keep a regular night sleep schedule because a tired face won’t look at its best.
Prepare your trolley bag and make sure that everyone involved will be available for your appointment. Sometimes unexpected changes happen at the last minute. So, have a backup plan, ready to go.
The Day before the Photoshoot
The day before forget everything and have a meeting with your friends for a girls evening out, but remember to go to bed quite early!
Day of the Photoshoot
Wake up early, have a shower and a full nutritious breakfast. Don’t punish yourself with just one coffee. Prepare a snack or two for the day, grab your cold bottle of water and visit your hairdresser to do your hair. Fresh and beautiful.
I try to eliminate all stress factors, so I prefer to use TaxiBeat for my transportation needs. The taxi usually arrives within 10 minutes and later I don’t have to worry for parking slots.
Being on the appointment earlier will give you the time to have a smooth preparation. Let your photographer do his/her job without interrupting the flow of work. Surrender yourself and let go all of your worries!
After the Photoshoot
Thank everyone for their work and collaboration. Of course, when you post your new photos, it’s up to you if you will give credits to the photographer. But I will strongly advise you to do so. Showing respect and gratitude for other professional’s work won’t harm your brand. On the contrary, it shows professional courtesy and good manners.