8 Things You Should Do To Prepare For A Photo Session

Photography Education

Feb 1, 2019

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Preparing for a photography session can be stressful and confusing.

You might be looking to do family portraits, and you just want to know how your neighbors get such beautiful images of their children to adorn their walls.

Or maybe you’re newly engaged, and you are excited about planning an engagement session.

Whatever your season in life, here are 8 things you can do to rock your upcoming photo session!


  1. ENJOY and have FUN!


I know, I know…but do not roll your eyes.


As you are looking for a photographer and thinking about your session, think about enjoying yourself and having a good time! Although planning for the session comes with a little stress, allowing yourself to enjoy the session is key.


The more fun you allow yourself to have, the more relaxed you are, and the more YOU you are!


Everyone involved has a good time, and you get beautiful images that reflect you and your family’s personalities. It’s a win win!



  1. Choose a photographer based on their STYLE


I understand that searching for a photographer based on your budget is a true reality. You value photography, but you also have to consider what you can afford. BUT….


Ultimately choose a photographer based on the style of photography they shoot.


Do you like images that are moody and earthy? Look for a photographer whose work reflects that. Maybe bright, light, and airy photos make you feel all the flutters. Then you need a photographer who showcases light and airy photos.


How do you find the type that’s right for you? Look at photographer’s websites and view their galleries. Maybe you’re not sure what “style” you like, but you will know how you feel when you see the images. If a particular gallery leaves you smiling, then those are the types of images for you!


Finding a photographer that reflects your style or vibe will ensure you’ll love the end product!


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  1. Choose your session TYPE wisely


Indoor. Outdoor. Natural light. Studio. Full session. Mini session. All the options!


Finding the image style you like goes hand in hand with the session type.


Decide what is going to make you and your family the most comfortable, and seek that out. If you are looking to do an engagement session then one held outdoors in natural light might be at the top of your list. If you want newborn photos, you might want a studio that has controlled heating and lighting. Or you may want to do an indoor session in your home where you feel the most comfortable.


Then there’s length of time. Photography sessions can be anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours!


Here’s how to figure out what will work for you:



Mini sessions are typically 30 minutes long (sometimes even shorter). The purpose of a mini session is to get a few quality images (about 10) without much hassle in a short period of time. This option is great if you need that perfect Christmas card photo or you want to have a few cute images of your little ones at a unique, styled shoot (think fall pumpkin patch).

Photographers choose the location of the mini session, and they set a specific timeframe to run the sessions. This is great for its purpose, but it does not allow a lot of flexibility.

Mini sessions are meant to serve many individuals in an efficient way, so the session is not tailored to you or your family.



A full photography session lasts anywhere from 1-2 hours and is customized to your needs.

You and the photographer will discuss location, time, date, and all the preferences! This is the best option for family photos, engagement photos, and senior portraits!

Indications you should go for the full session:

  • You have a special location in mind
  • You want to include meaningful objects or props (more on this below!)
  • You want to do more than one location
  • You’d like to have the option of changing outfits (hello engagement photos!)
  • You want a lot of images that you can include in an album or hang on the walls
  • You want the time for you and your loved ones to feel comfortable in front of the camera and not feel rushed
  • You simply want to customize what you need with your photographer!

If any of these sound like what you’re hoping for, then you need to make sure you book a full session!


Having an idea of the session type you need before you schedule anything means that you won’t be disappointed in the end.


  1. Choose a meaningful LOCATION


Feeling comfortable in front of the camera is so much easier when you are in a place you love!


This is true for family sessions as well as engagement sessions and senior portrait sessions. This also adds more value to your images and makes them more personal for you.


If a special location doesn’t come to mind, don’t worry! Talk to your photographer and together you can come up with some great ideas.


Photographers usually have numerous locations they can suggest, and he or she can ask questions to get to know you and where you might feel the most comfortable.

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  1. Follow the LIGHT


Trust that your photographer is going to choose the best time of day for your portrait session!


Photographers understand light and how it affects your images. Certain times of day will be much more flattering to you than others.


The most popular time of day to shoot is in the evening before sunset. The natural glow of the light is beautiful and the most flattering. Times during the afternoon tend to have very harsh light, so this is not the most ideal time to shoot outside.


When booking a family photography session, it can be difficult to work around the nap schedules! I’ve been there! But, discuss your concerns with the photographer to come up with the best solution.


  1. Include SPECIAL ITEMS


Having one or two objects that hold meaning for you are ideal to include in your photography session.


No need to go all out and bring a dozen props, but your images will reflect more of who you are if you bring along something of meaning to you.


For a family session this could mean bringing along your child’s special lovey.


Seniors could bring something that reflects an important interest that they have (sports or hobbies).


Engagement sessions obviously include the bling! But anything unique to the couple could also be included.


These specials touches add character and meaning to your images. Your photography session is about you and the ones you love. Special objects help to invoke emotions and all the photographer to capture the uniqueness of your family.


  1. Choose OUTFITS wisely


Picking out the outfits is possibly the most stressful step of preparing for your photo session.


Choose outfits that are comfortable and that make you feel like a million bucks! This does not mean that you need to go out and buy anything new.


Sometimes the perfect outfit is already in your closet, waiting to be worn.


An outfit that is a winner will flatter your figure. If you choose an outfit that you feel like you constantly need to adjust, then you will be uncomfortable during your session.


Self-conscious about your arms? Then choose a top with a bit of a sleeve.


The goal is to feel natural and normal so that you can start your session with confidence!


And Finally….


  1. Bring SNACKS (seriously)


Most people will tell you as a departing tip to “just relax.” I won’t do that to you. But I will tell you to bring snacks!


I don’t know about you, but there is nothing worse than feeling hangry or being around someone who is hangry (my husband can attest to this)!


You just fed the kids a snack before you left the house, and now you’re 15 minutes into your session, and they are. Not. Happy. Snack time!


It is ok and perfectly acceptable to bring a light snack to help keep everyone satisfied during your photography session! Make sure the snack is not messy (no melting chocolate or orange cheese puffs)!


During a family session, this gives the kids a chance to take a break while mom and dad get a few portraits.


Engagement sessions longer than an hour can make a belly grumble, so grab a light little snack. Engagement sessions are a time to get to know your photographer and make conversation so you’re more comfortable on your wedding day. The session usually includes an outfit change, and these things naturally lengthen the session time. A little snack can be just the break you need to refresh!


Along with the snack, make sure you bring plenty of water!


You’ll be doing a lot of smiling, talking, and laughing, so keep water handy to stay hydrated and happy!

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Hope you enjoyed these 8 tips on preparing for your photography session! Check back soon for more photography tips and beautiful images.

Leave a comment below and let me know if there is a topic you’d love to see on the blog!

  1. Katie Rusu

    February 2nd, 2019 at 7:58 am

    Tara your work is beautiful I love how in the midst of the beautiful art work you show inspiration to make changes and do great things! You’re blog is amazing love it!

  2. Tara Ebersole

    February 3rd, 2019 at 2:17 am

    Katie, you are so genuine and kind! So thankful for our friendship!

  3. Linda

    February 15th, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    These are all great ideas. And yes, the early evening is always the best time to shoot portraits. For young families, I tell them to let their children take a late nap, so that they won’t be tired if they stay up a bit longer than normal.

  4. Tara Ebersole

    February 17th, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    Thanks for the comment! Yes, I love the idea of a nap beforehand!

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