© Nicole Watson. All rights reserved. Preparing for your photo session.
Congrats on deciding to hire a professional to document your family! This is an investment that you will cherish forever. While this can be very exciting, it can also be a little nerve-wracking. What do you wear? Should you bring any props?

This page is meant to be a guide to help to along the way whether it’s your very first session with a professional or you’ve done this many times and are looking for something different.

When To Schedule Your Photo Session

Outdoor Sessions
Outdoor sessions are fully dependent on lighting. The best times for perfect lighting outdoors is about an hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. It’s what is often referred to as the “magic hour” because the sun is less harsh and doesn’t cast really bad shadows on you — you don’t want to be squinting in your sessions, do you?

Indoor Sessions
Indoor sessions are also fully dependent on lighting, but the timing is much more flexible. Since you don’t have to worry about weather conditions or being in direct light you are able to schedule your indoor session anytime during the day.

Take a look around your home and see what room (or rooms) get the best natural light at different times of the day based on where they face (north, south, etc.). These will most likely be rooms that have a lot of windows are are not blocked by a lot of trees. Rooms with great natural light will be the best place for your indoor sessions.

Newborn Sessions
Newborn sessions are a little tricky to schedule since you don’t always know when the little one will be making their big appearance. Be sure to book your session during your second trimester and let me know your due date so that I can pencil you in on my calendar.

The best time to take these photos is 3-7 days after the baby is born and are still very sleepy. These must be done within the first 14 days though. As soon as the little one is here, send me an email and we’ll get your session scheduled.

Engagement Sessions
Engagement sessions should be booked based on your wedding date. According to etiquette, it’s best to send your save the dates six months prior to the big day or eight if it’s a destination wedding. If you are wanting to use your photos from the session in a Save the Date, you’ll want to book your session at least six months before your big day. That gives you plenty of time to get your photos and have your save the dates sent out to your guests.

If you don’t plan on sending out Save the Dates, I’d recommend scheduling your session about three months before your big day. This gives you enough time to get your photos and have them printed for frames, guest books or canvas art to be displayed on your wedding day.

High School Senior Sessions
High school senior sessions should be scheduled around the graduation date. According to etiquette, you should send graduation announcements four weeks prior to the event if you’re inviting people to attend the event. If you want to include a photo with your graduation announcement or have a custom announcement designed, I’d recommend scheduling your session about six weeks prior to the event. For announcements that are sent out just for celebration of the achievement, you can schedule the session anytime you like.

Sessions With Small Children
Sessions with little ones are some of my favorites. I love kids and I am pretty sure most of them see me a big kid! However, they can be a little tricky if they aren’t planned around the little one’s schedule.

When you schedule your session, keep in mind your child’s schedule and when they are at their peak energy level. Since mornings and early evenings are best for outdoor sessions, think of whether your child’s energy is highest right after breakfast or after their afternoon snack time.

What to Wear During Your Photo Session

This is the million dollar question and one that can be the hardest for some to decide on. But you shouldn’t stress too much on this one. You can check out my Pinterest board for some visual ideas. Here are some tips to (hopefully) make it easier for you:

  • Show your personality. One of the best ways to show off your personality during your shoot is through your clothes. Do you want to look formal or do you want to look more casual? Are you edgy and daring with your style or are you more of a traditionalist? Don’t be afraid to have a little fun.
  • Bright or neutral colors. When picking out colors it’s best to pick colors from the same palette or that are complimentary to each other. You don’t all have to wear the same color though…you can wear different shades of the same color. The colors you pick is totally up to you, but try to avoid patterns and lines. They tend to be distracting and sometimes look off on camera.
  • Comfort is key. If you’re uncomfortable during your session, it will most likely show. Be sure to wear something comfortable that isn’t too itchy or makes you sweat.
  • Versatility. You’re welcome to change clothes to get a different look, so keep that in mind when planning your wardrobe. Try to find bottoms that will look good with multiple tops and shoes.

Tips For a Successful Photo Session

My goal is for you to have a great time during your photo session. I want you to be happy with your photos. Below are some tips to make your photo session successful:

  • Don’t be afraid to speak up. I’ll direct you on how to pose, where to stand and what expressions to make. But please don’t be afraid to speak up and let me know if something is uncomfortable or just not you. I promise my feelings won’t be hurt. The same goes for poses. If there is something you want to try, let’s try it!
  • Have fun. The best photo sessions are those where the subjects are having a great time. It really does show in the photos. So relax, loosen up and let’s have a great time.
  • Don’t worry about the little ones. I totally understand when little ones have a melt down. While it may be frustrating to you during the photo sessions, it’s not a problem at all. We’ll work it out and make it better.
  • Bring snacks. This one goes with the previously mentioned tip. Sometimes little ones get upset because they are hungry. I am the same way, so I totally get it! 🙂 Be sure to bring some of their favorite snacks so they’re available when needed.
  • Feel free to bring props. I’ll have my goody bag with some props (chalkboards, blankets, banners, etc.), but if you want to bring your own props that is OK. Some ideas for things to bring are your child’s favorite toys, baby shoes for a maternity session, pink/blue balloons for a maternity session, fun hats for little ones…I could go on.
  • Bring ideas. I am a visual person, so if you’ve seen something online or on Pinterest please bring that photo with you. I love trying new things. It’s always a good idea to look around to see if there is something specific that you want to be sure to capture.