I'm so excited to make some amazing photographs with you! Thank you for choosing me as your photographer. We're going to make some amazing images together!
Get ready for a great experience! 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, the setting, and the energy you share together. You’re going to focus on each other, and I’ll show you how.
We’ll walk around, explore the location, look for beautiful light, and have a great time. You’ll find out that I’m super easy-going. 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!
If you ever have any questions, need help with anything (photography related or not), or just need a friend, I'm here!
The best way to reach me is by email (email@example.com) because I'm usually super busy with work, managing my family/household, on the road, hiking, hugging trees, or walking my dogs. But I check my emails frequently and I'll respond asap (usually within 48hrs).
You can also message me through Facebook and Instagram. I on't check these as frequently as emails, but I will get back with when I can!
You can call or text me at 248-396-3556 (it's my personal phone). FYI, I usually have my phone turned off while I'm working, driving, out on a trail, in an airplane, and/or if I'm spending time with my family. But sometimes sending a quick text is easiest!
The location of your session will greatly affect the vibe of your photos. What might seem like a beautiful location for photos is often not the case, and vice versa.
The more amazing and/or epic the location is where your session takes place, the more of an effect it will have on the beauty of your photos. The best locations (in my opinion) are places that look untouched by mankind- rolling fields of wild grasses, thick old growth forests, un-manicured beaches- you get the idea.
In Michigan there are lots of awesome places that are off the beaten path. Outside of Michigan, as well! I'll ask you a few questions and choose the perfect location for your session.
Favorite locations in Michigan: Silver Lake Sand Dunes, Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, Lake of the Clouds (U.P.), Pictured Rocks/12-Mile Beach (U.P.), Grand Sable Dunes (U.P.), the Porcupine Mountains (U.P.), Island Lake State Rec, Proud Lake State Rec, Port Crescent State Park, Van Buren State Park, Green Point Dunes, Nordhouse Dunes, Presque Isle (U.P.), and Wilderness State Park.
Outside of Michigan: there are many places in the Midwest that are incredible, like Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio, Palisade Head in Minnesota, and Devil’s Lake in Wisconsin. And, of course, if you’d like to travel farther, the world has many mountains, coastlines, giant forests, canyons, and incredibly gorgeous locations to explore!
Lighting is the number one most important element in creating breathtaking photos! When the sun is high in the sky it creates unflattering shadows and is difficult to work with. On sunny days it can be a real challenge, because the light is harsh and the light/shadow contrast is the greatest. Even on cloudy days it can be hard to find great lighting because the direction of light is coming from straight above.
The best light is just after sunrise & just before (and just after) sunset. This is when the sun is lower in the sky and the temperature of the light is warmer. The angle of the light is much more forgiving. Shadows are softer and much more flattering for everyone. The light is just magical. Just after sunset is what we photographers call "blue hour" (it's really only like 15 minutes), when the light is ultra soft and has gorgeous cool tones.
To make sure your photos are the best they can be, I always schedule sessions about 2 hours to an hour and a half before sunset. The session lasts about 90 minutes to 2 hours.
03. WHAT TO WEAR/STYLING
Your choice of outfits will have a huge impact on your photos. Clothing can help emotions and thoughts come through more clearly in photographs. Take movies for example- the wardrobe is typically one of the most important pieces in conveying the "look" of the movie.
Most of us aren’t professional stylists, but that’s ok- I’ll help you with your session styling so you’ll look great. (Alternatively, you can always hire professionals! 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.)
You can’t go wrong if you choose neutral colors- white, black, or any shade of gray. You also can’t go wrong with earthy, natural colors like dark brown, tan, camel, rust, olive green, sage, or navy blue. I recommend picking mostly neutrals, and then adding in a pop of color.
I want you to think about thus: how you would dress as your best self? You might see yourself dressed up, ready for a night on the town, or you might see yourself in more casual clothes, ready to go on an adventure in the wild. Whatever you go with, I want you to feel your best in your outfit! Couples should coordinate their looks, but not match. If you get stuck, remember simple is better, and solids are always a good choice!
Clothes that fit well. Not baggy or too tight.
Outfits that compliment each other.
Colors that are dark, or subdued.
Proper footwear for the location.
Anything with a commercial logo on it. (Band tees are cool, though.)
Items that are too loose or too tight.
Bright yellow, orange, or red.
Big patterns of any kind
If you’d like to dress up, you can go as simple as a pair of nice pants and a button-up shirt. Or add a suit coat and/or tie for a more polished look. 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’re interested in renting a suit for your session, I can hook you up with a concierge at The Black Tux, and get you $20 off!
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, suspenders, or maybe bring a blazer, vest or leather jacket. If you’re a hat guy, bring along a fedora or newsboy, but please leave baseball hats at home!
Solid colors are always a good choice for guys, and stick to earthy or neutral colors. Avoid shorts, baggy pants, polos, running shoes & t-shirts with prints (unless it’s a radband-tee).
Avoid shaving for a few hours before the session, because it’ll leave red marks and give you splotchy skin. If you get a fresh haircut, make sure you do it at LEAST 4 days in advance, so the hair has time to blend a bit and look more natural.
For footwear, rugged leather boots or leather shoes are always a great choice. Otherwise, shoes that are a solid color and go with your outfit will work. Just don’t wear sandals or flip flops. :)
If you’re dressing up, I recommend choosing a dress with length and 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. I love simple, plain pieces rather than glam, trendy, or complicated styles.
Borrow a dress! I have a small closet full of amazing dresses that photograph extremely well! I have several sizes available, from xs to xl, and a variety of colors and styles. If you’re interested in borrowing one for the session, let me know! I’ll get some info from you and pull a few selections for you to choose from.
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).
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 & 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. A smoky eye with a hint of blush and natural lips is a perfect look.
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!
Adding accessories and layers is a great way to add texture and interest to your photos! I recommend bringing along some things like hats, jewelry, scarves, sweaters, jackets, suspenders, sunglasses, and/or a blanket to sit on or wrap up in.
A note about self-esteem: I’m not the photographer to go to if you want unrealistically smooth skin or if you want inches tucked away by photo manipulation. I’m all about you being your naturally badass self, and using light and natural poses to photograph you at your best. (Now, if you have a breakout or something… I got you.) When you choose your outfit, make sure you check that it fits right and doesn’t accentuate any parts of you that you’re uncomfortable with. ie. 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. :)
IDEAS & INSPIRATION
Visit my Pinterest board for session styling ideas and inspiration!
This isn’t going to be like any portrait session you’ve ever had! You’re going to spend 99% of the time focused on each other, and not even looking at the camera. 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! 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. :)
TIPS FOR THE BEST SESSION EVER
KEEP YOUR HANDS FREE. I’ll be taking photos “in-between” moments, so it’s best to not carry anything with you. If you bring anything that needs to be carried, it’s best in a backpack or bag that can be carried without your hands. Keep in mind that these items might make it into some of the photos, so make sure they go with your outfits. 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 the awkwardness and the laughter as well as the quiet moments.
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. Make this a special occasion because you’re celebrating each other.
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! I love including your pets in some photos for you- but it’s important that they not be there for the majority of the session. As cute as he is, Fido is a distraction just as much as bringing a kid along would be, and would take the focus off of just the two of you (the whole point of the session). :)
If you'd like some photos with your pet, let me know ahead of time so I am prepared. I recommend bringing another person along to take your pet after we get a few photos that include them, and then we’ll set off for the rest of 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.)
06. AFTER THE SESSION
You can expect to see your photos within 14 days of your session. I have to transfer them from my cameras to my computer, where I carefully edit each one- taking it from a raw, unprocessed image file to a work of art.
I’ll deliver your photos in a beautiful online gallery that you can share with your family and friends, if you want. Anyone can order gift prints and other photo products right from the gallery to your doorstep.
A couple of weeks or so after I deliver the gallery, I’ll check up on you to see if you need help ordering anything.
It's important to get your photographs off of your computer and into your life! There's something about holding a photo in your hands. It connects you physically to the feelings of a time and place that an image on a screen can’t replace. That’s why printing your images is so important. It is a real, tangible link to your memories.
Digital files definitely have their place. But beautifully a crafted fine art album is a permanent heirloom you will enjoy, share and pass down — a meaningful connection to your memories that becomes more cherished each year.
You'll want to start thinking about the ways you'll want to print and display your images- maybe a custom designed album? A Canvas Wall Art collage? It's up to you.