14 Tips for the Perfect Photo Shoot

By: An Aroostook County Maine Photographer

Family photos in Maine can cost quite a bit of money, for top quality images. Here, we also have a good amount of beginner photographers thanks to the college. Depending upon what you are looking for, it’s important to set out with realistic goals and expectations from the photographer of your choice. Be sure to let them know at booking what you expect from your photo shoot with them, and be sure that they can accommodate or improvise when it comes to your requests. Below are some tips that will help you perfect your session!

1) Trust your Photographer

Sometimes, We get these clients sometimes where they want total control of their session, so we hand over the reigns and they come back with complaints after the images are delivered. As photographers, we know what works and what doesn’t, what is a trend and what is timeless. I suggest giving your photographer ideas on what you’re looking for, by way of example images and ask questions to be sure that you and your photographer are on the same page. (Just don’t send photos of a local competitor eek! That could make things weird)

2) Don’t Hire a Photographer and Expect Them to Change Their Style Because the Price Was Right For You

A lot of people will hire a lower-priced photographer and expect the quality of a professional. This is not only insulting to the artist, but it sets you up for a big letdown. Be sure to hire the photographer based solely off of the images you see, and your love for their work. I have also had clients in the past come to me for a quote, end up going to someone else.. and then come back to me because the other person didn’t deliver, this ended up costing them more money and time.

3) Let your Photographer Know if You are Bringing Props

This is huge, I know with my sessions – I plan each minute of the session. I hope to achieve everything that I’ve set out to (obviously it doesn’t always happen like that) but when a client springs a prop on me, I end up losing track of where I was and this could cost us valuable images that help tell the story of the session.


4) Choose the Right Photographer

I cannot express how important this is, especially if you have little ones. I have clients who have come to me exclusively for over 6 years. They came to me in the beginning, and they still come to me now even through all of my business changes (pricing and editing styles) This makes for an excellent session each and every time and lands those clients, more images. The children get to know me, they know my voice, I’m able to interact with them physically and it’s not awkward. Try to understand who you are hiring for the photos, make sure that you are choosing a person that can achieve what you are looking for. If you have a large family, try to find someone who has a large family themselves, or has worked with many large families before.

Getting Dressed

Here is where mistakes can be made from clients just not knowing what to do and following Pinterest too closely!

5) Shoes

Shoes can make or break a session, they are an important detail that really pulls the entire scene together (after your full outfits of course!) Try to wear shoes that are clean, without holes and that are anything but athletic shoes (running shoes, cleats etc – unless we are working on fitness photos of course!) If you are unable to find photo-worthy shoes, we can work around this several ways – Go Barefoot! (weather & location permitting) ask to be positioned behind others / tall grass, or ask to have the images cropped above the knee (these are better for close-up portraits anyway.)

6) Elbows, Armpits & Knees

I like to keep mine covered. I live in a predominantly Mormon area, so that’s kind of the standard around here, but I think the LDS community is onto something when it comes to covering up those less-pretty parts of the body. Rarely, I’ll see a set of armpits that are photo-worthy, we’re almost always insecure about that part of us, so it’s just common sense to cover the parts of us that we don’t want to be photographed and printed for the walls.

7) Beauty

Hands are a big part of who we are, our hands tell a story and are unique! Try to have your nails done with a neutral color, or go natural. Hair should be styled in a way that is familiar to you, you don’t want to worry about how your hair looks through the entire session. The same thing goes for makeup, sometimes makeup artists will go a shade or two darker so that the makeup shows in the images if you don’t normally wear a lot of makeup, bring a sample of what you’d like to look like when having your makeup done. If you are doing it yourself, this is not the time to try a new look or technique, go with what you know!

8) Don’t Match

I know, you might not have heard this one before but it makes things hard for me when a family is matching their boys and their girls in the same outfits. This makes things hard because then, I can’t pose them next to one another and that limits all of the posing styles that I had in my head and planned for ahead of arriving. When I dress my own family of nine, I start with my outfit first. I usually wear a dress and if it has a pattern on it, I pull colors from that pattern to dress everyone else. Sometimes I even go to Pinterest and I look up paint color palettes with the main colors of my dress. Seeing the options in color blocks is always helpful. Again, don’t dress any two people in the same exact color. If you want to do an all white t-shirt type of shoot, try to dress some family members in white dresses and accessorize to break up the color. Matching also makes editing hard because if you’re all in the same color, but one person’s shirt is a different material or is more faded than the rest, that person will stand out alone.

9) Be Careful with Bright Colors

This tip isn’t limited to just clothing. Color casts are a serious thing that is hard to work with in editing. Cake smashes for example – if you plan to place a cake in front of your little one that has bright colors, you’ll have all kinds of funky coloring all over the face, even where cake hasn’t touched yet because of how light reflects. Same with clothing, if your colors are too bright, they will show up on the face too.

10) Leave Your Purse at Home / In a Safe Place

Sometimes I have clients who bring their purses and they end up having to leave them off to the side, in the dirt. I can see their eyes wandering from the camera, to their purse at times and this does impact the way they look in the photos. If you can, try to pick a safe place in your car to leave your purse while the shoot is taking place.

11) Cell Phones, Wallets & Sunglasses Too!

This is somewhat different, when these items are brought to a session, you’ll want to remove them from your body so that they don’t appear in the photos. This leads to items being lost and we just don’t want that! Also, a lot of post-shoot requests come in to “photoshop” phones and wallets out of pockets, and this is not a standard service for most photographers, so it’s better to avoid that conversation and just prepare before the photos are being taken.

12) Please Pay How & When Requested

I tell all of my clients when I expect to see the final payment before the images are delivered. When I have to wait for the payment, or I am asking for it several times.. this becomes frustrating. Confession – I don’t begin editing a session until the session has been paid for in full. If the client happens to tip, the images are first on my stack to edit and I send them as soon as possible, because I realize that this client is in this business relationship for the long haul and I love repeat clients! But back to the main tip, sometimes photography is an outlet and it’s something that we do on the side of being a Mom, or our regular jobs. When we ask for the payment to be made in cash at the shoot, it’s for a reason. Maybe we got to the session and need to get gas on the way home with the money that you pay. Or maybe we’re going to stop by and pay a bill with the cash. When the money doesn’t come through when we expect it to, this puts us in a bad position.

13) Bubble Wrap the Kids 😉

I’m just kidding… kind of. “My child has a black eye, busted lip, etc.” Is the most COMMON reason for rescheduling and it’s almost like a curse for some people. They book the shoot and immediately, their little one has a bump to the face and they end up needing to reschedule, which is a bummer for everyone (especially the little one 🙁 ) so, keep them safe!

14) Most Importantly, DON’T STRESS!!!!

Give yourself enough time to get dressed, drive to the shoot and take a few minutes to breathe before the session begins. Running late can really affect how a session turns out. If Mom & Dad are yelling or are hyperventilating about being on time, this can negatively impact the moods of the children and that shows during a photo shoot. Also, your kid might throw a tantrum, refuse to smile or just flat out cry. This is O K A Y! This happens all the time and me, as a Mom to 7 – I know how to fix these situations whether I’ve met your child before or not. The key is to be kind, patient and willing to take what you can get from a session. I have had clients become overly aggressive with their children because they weren’t smiling for pictures, and that is not what we are there to do – we are there to document life, not to sit – stay- smile.

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Aroostook County, Maine


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