Session Planning Guide
When I have the opportunity to photograph other creative professionals, my heart absolutely soars! I started offering lifestyle headshot sessions in the later part of 2017, and it's grown into something I truly enjoy. Being able to capture you in your element to have photos to display across your social media pages or websites is what makes these sessions so fun! I’ve created this session preparation guide for you, and packed it with all my best secrets for getting the best out of your portrait experience with me, so let’s dive right in!
Before Your Session
Choosing Time & Date
I'm a natural light photographer because I believe that natural light, from the sun and its reflections, create photographs that feel fresh, timeless and true to you. I usually begin all lifestyle headshot sessions one hour before the scheduled sunset during “the golden hour,” when the light is the dreamiest! Use a sunset calculator online to determine the scheduled sunset for the date and location you’d like to do your session. Next, simply subtract 1 hour to figure out your start time. Remember, the sun sets much earlier during the colder months of the year and much later during the warmer months, so make sure to factor that in when choosing your engagement session date, especially if you’re taking off work or have evening plans afterward. To get the most out of your session, please plan a buffer when getting ready so you can arrive about 10 minutes early to your session and be ready to start on time. I'm only able to shoot when natural light is still in the sky, so we’ll want to take advantage of every minute we have together before the sun goes down! Before we start your session, we’ll take about 10 minutes to loosen up, chat and have some fun so you’re nice and relaxed in front of the camera!
Selecting the Right Location
The location of your engagement session is up to you! If you need help deciding on a location, I’d be more than happy to recommend a few. There are plenty of great options around the state, and I’m always up for exploring a new spot together!
Think Outside the Box
Choosing a location for your lifestyle session is the time to think outside the box! I encourage you to brainstorm unique locations that you might have special access to that most people don’t. For example, maybe you, or someone in your personal or professional network, can secure permission to a location that would otherwise be off-limits, like a beautiful private estate, country club or resort. Maybe it’s a family ranch, upscale hotel, your college campus or even an airplane hangar. The sky is literally the limit! Spend a few minutes thinking about it and checking around. You’ll be surprised with what you come up with. Plus, if something seems out of reach, just remember: you never know until you ask! If you get stuck or need inspiration, check out the Portraits & Headshots section of my blog and keep browsing through this guide. I have some great go-to locations that we can always hit, too! Easy. Peasy.
Your session includes my travel time anywhere in a 30 mile radius (or 60 miles round trip) of the 06851 zip code. If you’d like to have your photos taken at a location outside the of this area, I’m up for the adventure! The travel fee for destinations outside my regular area of coverage is $0.75 per mile. I love traveling and am actually on the road quite a bit, so I’d love to make it work! If you would like me to meet you at a location outside of Connecticut for your portrait session where I don’t already have plans to visit, just let me know and I can give you a custom quote.
Styling Your Session
Do you want your photos to look more editorial? Bring a little extra something with you! A freshly-picked bouquet for you to hold, or fresh flowers to put on something else, like a bicycle basket, tree swing, picnic basket, car bumper or rowboat, is a fun way bring a little extra romance and creativity to everyday objects. Whether it’s larger items like classic cars, or smaller ones like blankets or hats, even incorporating just one extra styled item, could be a fun way to make your session more unique. If you’re looking to bring on a pro to style your session, I’ve worked with some of the best in the business and would be happy to give your their information!
Style Tips for Her
Dress It Up
Have you thought about rocking a sequined gown, tulle skirt or flower crown, but just never had an occasion for it? This is your chance to do it up! Remember, there is no such thing as “too dressed up” when it comes to your session, so don’t be afraid to have some fun! If you don’t want to add a new permanent piece to your collection, a lot of ladies love Rent the Runway for their photos because you don’t have to spend a lot to feel like a million bucks. Plus, you can send the outfits back when the session is over. Other women love having a great excuse to bring a new permanent piece (or two!) into their closet!
I recommend that you wear something that flatters the parts of you that you love the most and also allows you to be extremely confident! If you are uncomfortable when you look in the mirror (having to suck in or only liking the way you look from one angle), then that probably isn’t the best outfit choice for you. We want you to be really confident in your outfit, because we know that you will love your portraits so much more if you’re not worrying about how your clothes fit!
Quick Tip: There’s no such thing as too dressed up.
Say Yes to the Dress
Long, flowy dresses and skirts look amazing on camera because they bring extra movement to the photos. Especially when juxtaposed with nature, like the forest, plains or beach. Cute shorter-length dresses photograph beautifully as well. Dresses and skirts tend to look most stunning on camera because they really flatter the female body — which is probably why the red carpet is always full of so many dresses!
When choosing colors for your outfits, I recommend selecting lighter tones and more muted shades. By avoiding ultra-bright colors, it will help bring all the attention to your faces and let the eye focus on YOU! The camera loves shades of soft pink and muted blues, mixed with sophisticated light neutrals like heather gray, creams, leather brown and white. That softer color palette fits beautifully into almost all natural outdoor environments.
Flattering Your Features
In my experience, every woman, regardless of her shape, has an area of her body that she’s self-conscious about, so recognizing what that is in advance is key. Choosing flattering silhouettes and colors that compliment your natural features is the best way to ensure you’ll love the way you look in your photos. Three-quarter length sleeves create an awesome slimming effect on all arms, so be on the lookout for an option with a longer length sleeve. You could also bring a cute jacket, blazer or cardigan along, too. Skinny straps or strapless dresses have the opposite effect on arms on camera, so I recommend avoiding those whenever possible if your goal is a set of slimmer-looking arms. Heels elongate women’s legs, making them look fabulous. Closed-toed shoes, heels in particular, look great on camera because they carry out the line of your leg all the way down to your toe. If your toes are showing in a peep-toe heel, you might want to schedule a pedicure before your session so you don’t regret letting your feet show. These little tricks make all the difference!
Quick Tip: Bring a pair of flats to wear when moving from place to place. Your feet will thank you later!
Make a Statement
Pairing an accessory or two with your outfit can really help bring some extra dimension to your images. Bold statement necklaces bring a lot of pop to the photos, while the smaller, delicate ones are not as noticeable on camera. Belts, bracelets and earrings bring great visual interest, so choose one or two that don’t compete for attention.
Go Pro: Hair & Makeup
Splurge a little! If you were considering getting your hair and makeup done, this is the perfect opportunity to treat yourself! Professional hair and makeup is on the top of many of my clients' checklists because it looks amazing and removes the stress of getting ready on your own. Whether it’s lash extensions or blown-out hair, professional hair and makeup will give you an extra boost of confidence in front of the camera, and it always photographs like a dream. You will cherish these images forever and so investing in professional hair and makeup can be an extra fun way to celebrate the occasion and allow you to be extra confident during your shoot! If you’re working with a makeup artist, have them apply your makeup in natural light, if possible, so that it looks fresh and not too heavy. Plus, that’s the type of light I’ll be shooting in, so it’ll give you the best expectation of how it will translate on camera. Some ladies feel like their makeup is “too much” at first, since it’s more than you would wear on a normal day, so if you feel that way at the beginning, don’t worry! Good makeup artists know how to get it just right for the camera. If you need a recommendation for hair and makeup, just let me know and I’ll send you the contact information for some of my favorite hair and makeup artists. They’re sweet as pie, talented as heck, unbelievable professionals and wonderful people. You’ll LOVE them, and I know they’ll take good care of you!
Quick Tip: Confidence. It’s always the best accessory.
A Little Extra Polish
Spoil yourself for this session and give yourself permission to get your nails done!
Skip the Spray Tan
Although it might seem counter-intuitive, I recommend that you do not get a spray tan before your session, even a few days prior, because it tends to photograph orange even when it’s applied subtly and by a professional. Your actual skin tone will photograph the most beautifully!
Style Tips for Him
Because dapper and debonair never go out of style.
As Long as He’s Got That Suit & Tie
From James Bond to Don Draper, men look most striking in a well-tailored suit. If you don’t have one, now’s the perfect time to invest in something you’ll wear for the rest of your life! The best part? It’s a lot less expensive than you might think! While custom suits can cost thousands of dollars, some of the most well-known brands have off-the-rack suits in their stores for a fraction of the price. Solid shades of gray or navy are a strong compliment to most women’s outfits, whereas pinstripes or plaid patterns tend to distract the eye. I do recommend avoiding patterns that are smaller than a dime. These small patterns can create strange visual effects in a digital camera. Close-toed shoes photograph well, and I recommend avoiding graphic tees and tennis shoes!
Quick Tip: There’s no substitute for a well-tailored suit.
Mix It Up
Many men love to mix a suit coat, blazer or sport coat with a different pant color. It adds some extra visual interest, and can be more fun than wearing two full suits in a row. I'm a big fan of this fresh take on a timeless classic!
Next time you walk by a store like J. Crew, you’ll notice the male mannequins and models are always wearing several layers at once. Layers on men look great on camera, so even when it’s hot outside, trust me when I say that it’s worth an hour of discomfort for photos that will last you both a lifetime. Adding another layer will bring extra dimension and visual interest to your photos. Blazers, vests and coats up the level of any look. If the temperature permits, you could even consider adding a v-neck sweater with a pop of color from a long-sleeved collared shirt and tie underneath. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative with layers!
It’s All in the Details
Long pants and closed-toed shoes are the most sophisticated and masculine looks for men. They draw attention away from your legs and feet, placing it where you want it... on your face! So, for your session, it’s best to leave the shorts, sandals and jeans at home, too. Suit pants, dress pants or colored pants work best. Brown leather dress shoes compliment almost every look, whether you're wearing a full suit or a blazer and colored pants. Ties, bowties, pocket squares, colored socks, belts, tie clips, suspenders, vests and watches are sharp compliments to any suit. If you bring two suits to your session, you can start with a traditional necktie and belt, then switch to suspenders and a bow tie for your second look. If two suits are too stressful, no problem! One look will do the trick! You can still mix and match accessories during the session. So, either way, you win!
Take a Deep Breath
I know I just gave you a lot to think about but rest assured, you’re going to be an amazing model! I always tell my clients that the BEST models are the ones who have never modeled professionally before... and I mean it! Those who are usually most nervous are the ones who totally rock their session, so be encouraged! As a photographer, I've worked with EVERY personality type and EVERY body type, and I always create images that my clients love!! Get excited!
Lifestyle Headshot Session Checklist
1. Set date, time and location with Shaina
2. Review guide for style tips
3. Schedule hair and makeup appointments
4. Choose your outfit(s)
5. Get your nails done
6. Clean your ring
7. Pack a bag with:
- Flats or flip-flops for walking between photo spots
- Outfit two, including shoes and accessories (if applicable)
- Touch-up makeup
- Water bottle (for warmer sessions)
- Coat or cover-up (for colder sessions)
I look forward to working with you soon!