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Session Guide

I am SO excited for your session!

This session is going to be completely different from any other “portrait experience” you’ve had, so come with an open mind, and be prepared for a great experience!

Fun photo of engagement session in Michigan

 

I’ll guide you through the whole session, giving you easy directions and prompts that will result in natural, authentic poses and moments. I’m going to focus on your connection, your bond, and the energy you share together. We’ll walk around, explore the location, look for beautiful light, and just have a great time! You’ll find out that I’m super easy-going and I laugh a lot.

Aside from creating photos of the two of you, this session is when we really get to know each other, and you can get a feel for what its like to work with me. It’s the perfect way for us to learn a lot about each other’s personalities. It’s amazing how much I learn about how couples interact with each other just from hanging out for an hour taking photos.

Read and use this guide to help you prepare for your session, and to make sure your photos are as awesome as possible!

 

 

LIGHTING

Lighting is the number one most important element in creating breathtaking photos! The best light is at sunrise & two hours before sunset! I don’t know about you. but I prefer not to get up before the crack of dawn, so ideally we’ll be shooting in the evening- starting about an hour to an hour and a half before sunset.

 

Engagement photo at Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes in Michigan

 

LOCATION

The location of your session depends on the kind of vibe you’d like for your photos! If lighting is the number one factor for great photos, location is definitely number two. If you want beautiful, epic photos that are set in a gorgeous outdoor location (like most of the images you see on my website & portfolio) then we’ll need to find and travel to an epic location! I can totally help with that. There are some options in the SE MI area, or I’m always up for an adventure to a farther destination. In-home sessions are becoming more and more popular, too. These sessions focus more on the connection and energy between the two of you. If you don’t like your own home, consider renting an Airbnb with lots of window light and minimal clutter.

 

Amazing Airbnb in Detroit

 

 

WHAT TO WEAR

Your choice of outfits will have a huge impact on your photos. It’s like you’re starring in a movie- you want your wardrobe to be awesome, and make you look your best! Most of us aren’t professional stylists, but that’s ok- I’ll help you with your styling so you’ll look great. (Alternatively, you can always hire a wardrobe stylist! If you do, just make sure you get me in contact with them so we can make sure we’re all on the same page.)

First and foremost, dress for the weather and location. It doesn’t make any sense to wear heels while hiking through the woods, or a sun dress in the middle of the winter. I want you to be comfortable, but look amazing. Since my sessions are usually adventurous and set in nature, your outfits should also be adventurous and rugged. If we’re doing an in-home session then your look should be more comfortable and cozy.

For outdoor sessions, couples either want to dress up, or go casual. Either way is fine with me, as long as you follow some rules and go with whatever you feel best in. As a general rule for both guys and girls, stick to neutral, earthy colors. These will always photograph best (along with white or black).

Layers and lots of interesting textures always photograph well, and can be great for changing up your look without a full outfit change.

Avoid wearing:

  • Anything with a commercial logo on it. Band tees are ok.
  • Items that are too loose or too tight.
  • Stripes.
  • Bright neon colors.

 

 

FOR HER:

If you’re dressing up, I recommend choosing a dress that creates a lot of movement. I love maxi dresses and skirts- they always photograph really well. Solid colors work perfectly, as long as you stick to white, black, or any of the earthy neutrals. Prints can work, but you have to be careful with them, so if you’re thinking of wearing a printed dress or skirt, be sure to let me know and send me a photo of your outfit. Dresses that are more vintage style are totally my thing. I love tiny buttons, lace accents, etc. Modcloth, Forever 21, and Free People are great places to look for dresses.

For a casual, you can be creative with your look, but I recommend wearing something adventurous if we’re going to be in nature. There are lots of outfit ideas on my Pinterest board (link is below).

I highly recommend adding accessories and layers to your outfit like hats, scarves, shawls, jackets, cardigans, sunglasses, jewelry- even a blanket to wrap up in if it’s chilly.

For shoes, if we’re going to be in a rugged terrain, I recommend wearing brown or black leather boots or hiking shoes/boots. If we’re going to a beach or a more forgiving terrain, you can wear leather sandals, flats, or go barefoot. Avoid flip flops, colored sneakers, and high heels. Some shoes I always love are Doc Martens, rugged brown leather boots, classic Converse, and any strappy brown leather flat sandals.

Hair and makeup: having your hair and makeup styled for the session is always a good idea, because professional stylists should be able to enhance your natural beauty. Makeup for photos is done differently than regular day-to-day makeup. That being said, I always encourage a more natural look- especially if we’re going on an adventure outdoors. I love messy, windswept photos, so keep that in mind when it comes to your hair. Don’t be afraid to let it loose and if it gets messed up, just go with it!

 

Hint: consider staying away from sleeveless tops/dresses if you don’t like the way your arms look. Or bring a sweater, jacket, or shawl to cover them up. :)

 

BORROW A DRESS:

If you’re having a hard time with deciding what to wear or just don’t want to deal with it, I’m more than happy to let you borrow a dress from my session closet! I have lots of options and sizes to choose from that are all amazing for photos! My collection ranges from sizes xs-xl, and my collection is always expanding. If I don’t have your size, I’m happy to get it for you. My dresses are flowy, romantic, and will look great on you! If you’d like to take advantage of this offer, just let me know. I’ll get your size and based on the location and season, I’ll give you my suggestions. I can bring a few picks to the session for you to try. Bonus- if you take advantage of this offer and wear one of my dresses for your session, I’ll give you a $35 print credit!

 

 

FOR HIM:

If you’d like to dress up, you can go as simple as a pair of nice pants and a button-up shirt. Avoid prints, stripes or embroidery and stick to solid colors (or plaid is ok in the fall/winter). Make sure the clothes fit well- clothing that’s too loose, wrinkly, or too small will definitely show in the photos.

If you’d rather be more casual, a pair of fitted jeans and a black or white v-neck look great. Sweaters are great for cooler weather. Do your best to add layers and accessories for interest. Glasses or a watch, or maybe bring a blazer or leather jacket. If you’re a hat guy, bring along a fedora, but please leave baseball hats at home!

Avoid shorts, baggy pants, polos, running shoes & t-shirts with prints (unless it’s a rad band-tee). Avoid shaving for a few hours before the session, because it’ll leave red marks and give you a splotchy chin. A fresh hair cut 4-7 days before is always a bonus! *Make sure you do it at LEAST 4 days in advance, so the hair has time to blend a bit.

For footwear, rugged leather boots are always a great choice. Otherwise, shoes that are a solid color and go with your outfit are what will work. Don’t wear sandals or flip flops. :)

 

 

COLOR PALETTES:

The colors you wear are a very important part of the outfits you choose. The best choices are always earthy, soft, neutral colors- and any browns, blacks, whites and grays. Bright, bold colors like red, orange, bright green and royal blue should be avoided because they will cast their color on your skin. If you have your heart set on a non-neutral color, check with me first! Here’s some inspiration, or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas (link below).

 

 

For tons of outfit ideas and inspiration, check out my Pinterest board:

WHAT TO WEAR

 

Hint- send me photos of your outfit choices before the session. That way I can let you know if something isn’t going to work, or give you ideas on how to improve your selection if needed.

 

 

WHAT TO EXPECT

This isn’t going to be like any portrait session you’ve ever had. You’re going to spend 99% of the time just hanging out, focusing on each other, and not even looking at the camera. Yep, you heard me right- rule #1 is NO LOOKING AT THE CAMERA (unless I ask you to). Don’t worry- I’ll go over everything at the start of the session and show you what to do and what not to do. It’s easy, I promise :)

Come to the session with an open mind and be ready to embrace the unexpected. Let the wind mess up your hair, get a little weird. Your job is to relax, try to forget I’m taking photos, and just enjoy each other. Don’t worry- I’ll guide you and give you lots of things to do to keep your mind busy! Some of the prompts I give you might seem strange, or even silly- but just go with it! I promise the end result will be amazing. You can expect to feel all kinds of awkward at the beginning, but it’s totally normal and it’ll pass! Nothing to be afraid of- I won’t ask you to do anything that you’re uncomfortable with. We’ll just hang out for a while and I’ll guide you through the session in a natural, relaxed, easy-going way. :)

 

 

REGARDING PETS

I often get requests to include pets in the session, and I totally understand why- I mean, pets are the best, right? And they’re so cute and photogenic! For Connection Sessions, I recommend leaving them at home, though. These sessions focus on just he two of you- your love, your story, and your connection. Bringing along a four-legged friend will not only be a distraction, but it will change the dynamic of the session. If you absolutely have your heart set on it, then I recommend bringing another person along to take the pet after we get a few photos that include them. The other person would need to take the pet away, and we would then set out on our own to complete your session. Alternatively, if your pet is great in the car and the temps are mild, you could leave them there. Just keep in mind they would be unsupervised for about an hour and a half. If you are bringing a pet, be sure to let me know, because I’ll need to adjust the start time of your session. :)

 

 

TIPS FOR THE BEST SESSION EVER

DON’T BRING ANYTHING WITH YOU. If you bring anything that needs to be carried, it’ll have to be left behind. You’re going to need your hands free, and I’ll be taking photos “in-between” moments, so it’s best to not have anything with you. If it’s absolutely necessary, I can always pack smaller items (water bottles and smaller) in my camera bag and bring them along.

SHARE IT ALL WITH ME & DON’T HOLD BACK. Honesty is mandatory. Be yourselves. Don’t act like you think you should, I want to capture you as you really are. Remember how you interact when you’re alone, and don’t hide it. Embrace both the goofy laughter and the quiet moments. I will, of course, guide you through all this as we shoot.

TRUST ME. I absolutely love capturing these images, and I like to think I’m pretty good at it. A lot of the time, I see things in a completely different way- and I love to experiment! You might question some of my ideas (like if I’m like “Oh wow! That’s an awesome pile of dead sticks right there! Let’s use it for a background”) but trust me- it usually turns out amazing!

EMBRACE THE SPONTANEOUS ELEMENTS. And I don’t just mean the weather. I want you to embrace the rocks, the dirt, the paths less traveled, the wind messing up your hair, and all the other spontaneous and “imperfect” elements. I want to keep it natural and honest, so just let go!

MAKE A DAY OF IT! Take the whole day off, if you can, and use it as a reason to celebrate each other! Hang out, relax, and enjoy your time together. Or, go out for dinner or a movie afterwards!

 

 

If you have any questions or need help with anything, just let me know! I’m looking forward to our adventure!

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