What photo accessories outside portraits

Rare photo shoots can do without the use of props. Even in portrait shoots additional accessories are used, because they help to fill the empty spaces, attract attention or create the desired atmosphere. Regardless of the type of photo shoot you want to do, you have to use accessories with care so as not to make it too cluttered. In this article we’ll tell you the secrets of how to choose the right props for the photo to create a more attractive shot and a harmonious composition.

Commercial Photography

The role of props in photography is to attract the interest of the viewer, to bring character into the picture or to add context and meaning to the scene.

Most often used photo props for object photography, especially in advertising: it “frames” the main object. Props help to form a complete picture and unite objects in a single story. This creates an attractive scene that evokes a desire to buy the advertised product.

Photo props are often used in landscape photography, usually to add interest to the foreground. A classic example would be a shot of a campsite with a lighted tent. In the above photo, it’s just an extra element to help fill the frame, while the main focus is on the night sky.

Although the human face is an interesting subject in itself, there are only a few positions you can “play with” for an interesting shot. With an additional accessory, you can diversify your portrait photos. The most common examples of props for portraits are:

Multicolored garlands.

They help draw attention to the face and are often used as additional lighting. Garlands also create an atmosphere of magic and mystery. This option is very popular with bloggers on Instagram.


Massive costume jewelry is most often used, as it draws the focus to the face. Fine, elegant jewelry adds sophistication to the shot. You can use such props as a means of expression in photography.


Both simple with dioptres and sunglasses are used. With a variety of shapes and colors, this accessory is easy to use to create different atmospheres: serious, fashionable, humorous or light.


Not such an obvious choice, but a great solution to add a splash of color.

Another plus is that accessories can help a person feel more comfortable in front of the camera. This is especially helpful if you are photographing a non-professional model.

photo accessories

Tips for using photo props

Let’s talk about how you should use photo props and still not ruin the shot. Here are some tips for creating shots that will grab the attention of viewers:

Choose subjects based on purpose

Experienced photographers accumulate a large collection of photography equipment over time. This can make them want to use their favorite items in almost every photo set. However, when choosing photo props, you should start with the overall concept. For example, even if your client is a big original, he is unlikely to like it if you take a picture of jewelry on a cutting board for meat.

Adjust the color scheme

Additional accessories are a great way to control color. For example, if you’re shooting a landscape or portrait, there’s no way you can affect the color scheme, only change it in your photo editing software. But when you add props for a photo shoot, you can create an image based on the colors you want. Just add elements of the shade you want to emphasize.

Add a sense of depth and mystery

Using props in nature is a great way to liven up a boring landscape. It will provide attention and add a splash of color. Don’t be afraid to include unexpected objects in the shot – it will create a sense of mystery. The viewer will be interested to ponder what this object has to do with the overall scene.

This technique also helps to achieve depth in the image. It will make the photo more appealing by directing the gaze from the foreground to the background and give room for the viewer’s imagination.

Ideas for different types of shots

Now you know how to use accessories and diversify a photo set. Here are a few ideas on how to pick up props for object photography and other types of photo shoots.


Use them for their true purpose, to frame objects in the frame. This is a great option for advertising photography, although this technique can be used in any genre, including focusing on the model’s face in a portrait photo shoot.


A very handy option for traveling photography, as they are small enough to be carried around with you. Mostly used for rainy weather photos, though umbrellas also look great against a blue sky. And they can also be used to diversify a uniform photo backdrop, such as a wall.

Flowers – in pots or cut flowers, live or artificial

The most popular option with almost any photographer. They will add a flash of color or can blend into the background. The option is suitable for any type of photo shoot in a photo studio or outdoors.

Food and drink

A well-composed composition of food would be great for everyday shots of your life. Food and drink bottles can be added to the subject and promotional photo shoots. All you need to do is place colorful fruit or juice bottles and glasses where they will stand out.


These can be used in conjunction with other objects to create symmetry. Placing the main object on a mirrored surface creates an original effect in which the object looks as if it is floating on water. Mirrors in portrait and advertising photography give additional focus to the main subject of the photo shoot.

Photo props for a photo shoot can help create an unforgettable shot or completely ruin it. You, your experience and imagination determine the result. However, don’t forget that a photo’s success largely depends on editing. Even perfectly matched accessories won’t save the picture if it’s too faded or darkened.

A professional photographer – who is that?

I regularly get messages on social networks and messengers asking me – “What camera/lens would you recommend as a professional photographer? Moreover, the mention of the word “professional” in my address I hear and read regularly, it gave me reason to think about what exactly makes a photographer professional. I asked a similar question to a search engine and found that this topic is almost every forum dedicated to photography, that is, there are those who care to know. I’m taking the key points of these discussions into this article and adding my comments.

I should warn you right away that this article is not too serious. I am writing it for my own amusement rather than for any practical sense.

A Photographer Who Shoots for Money

That being said, any beginner who picked up a camera and got his first assignment to take pictures of, say, a seminar or a corporate event, can feel free to announce himself as a professional photographer. Why, it sounds! Even if the fee is a couple thousand rubles, and the result is far from perfect, but you can already “twiddle your thumbs” in forums, saying that I am a professional 🙂

On the other hand, not everyone can see the flip side of this kind of professionalism. If you’re shooting for money, you have to do the job with a 100% quality guarantee. Even if you wake up the next morning with a temperature of 38 and a headache. Or during the shooting, the camera broke down, a flash drive died or the lens broke. That’s in these situations, you immediately see who’s a true professional, and who just “put on an eagle and thinks he’s an eagle” 🙂

By the way, speaking about camera breakage during shooting – a real professional always has at least one spare (and a lens, respectively). And uses cameras with 2 flash drives to duplicate the material. And to buy this, you might have to sell your car. This is primarily written to those who want to buy a camera with a lens for 50 thousand to make money on weddings – just think about it.

A person who knows the characteristics of all modern cameras/lenses.

And at the same time he knows where they are sold, at what price and where they “won’t cheat” and won’t give you crap. And he knows the secret information about some “magic camera” which at a cost of 30, 40, maximum 50 thousand rubles will allow to take pictures AT ALL with professional quality and still fit into a jacket pocket 🙂 Perhaps many readers of the site imagine me like this – I judge by the abundance of the same type of questions that I am asked by mail, in social networks, sometimes even by phone. Well, I hasten to disappoint you – I am not him. I have not been following the news on snapshots for a long time, and I read news about updates of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras “from the diagonal”.

A professional photographer must be aware of what is going on in the world of photography, but he does not have to follow all the latest products, especially in the niches that are not of interest for him (e.g. amateur equipment).

A person who has a professional camera and lens and knows how to use it

This does give great advantages but with one condition – the person knows how to use it. Not just turn on auto mode and get an acceptable result, “riding out” the capabilities of the sensor / optics, but to squeeze the maximum out of the technique, which it is capable of. You can get the most out of it only when you shoot RAW in manual mode. This requires a certain level of professional expertise. It’s no secret that if a person who used to shoot with a smartphone picks up a professional camera with good optics, the result will not be much better than with a smartphone.

In this case, the question remains unclear as to how some amateur photographers manage to shoot photos with an inexpensive DSLR with a kit lens (sometimes even with a smartphone) that win prestigious competitions? That is, it’s not just a matter of the level of technology and the ability to use its capabilities, but also of sheer luck. Anybody can be lucky, but the more experience a person has, the more often he gets lucky 🙂

There is a category of photographers who can work with RAW, but prefer the Jpeg format. I don’t see anything wrong with that, especially if the camera has good internal Jpeg and the photographer can shoot in Jpeg so there is no need to stretch or adjust anything. Most of these people are really valuable and in-demand specialists, especially if the customer needs to get a result “right away”, for example, a reportage for a news story.

A person who takes the kind of pictures that viewers like

First of all, the question arises – how do you gauge how much a photograph is liked? The most familiar to today’s generation of photographers is the popularity of their photos on social networks. The cooler the photo, the more “likes” it will gather. Only here’s the question – “who are the judges?” 99% of friends and followers who give these “likes” often have nothing to do with the photo and can’t adequately assess it, and just put “hearts” on the old friendship. And it doesn’t matter what is in the picture – a sunset shot on a smartphone through a window pane, a cat on a rug, flowers in a flowerbed, selfies – everything is put under one head. In the end, the one with the most “likes” on his social network is the coolest photographer :).

Conclusion – almost any photo will find an audience. You take landscapes – fine. You take pictures of cats – also good. Flowers – great! Your little kids – great! And those who like “kotofotki” most likely will find black and white landscapes by recognized masters Ansel Adams or Michael Kenna boring and depressing. But if you come with their cats and flowers on a serious thematic photo resource, you are likely to be pelted with tomatoes there :).

The number of “likes”, “rakes”, “reposts”, which gather the photos on the Internet, if it can be regarded as an indicator of the professionalism of the author, it is very indirect, because it depends on the popularity of the account and the number of subscribers.

A person who knows how to work well in Photoshop

In “Photoshop” you can make a sweet out of everything – many people are sure of this. Some people spend a lot of time and money to master Photoshop retouching, watch numerous video tutorials, where the coryphaei process the pictures taken with professional equipment in a well-equipped studio. Naturally, after watching the lesson we try to copy it on our photos, but we don’t always get the “wow! The difference is that a “tough” photographer, even before he/she presses the shutter button, knows what kind of result he/she is going to get and what kind of processing is going to do, instead of trying to turn shit into… … candy.

It happens that some photographers lose their sense of proportion and create “masterpieces” that are hard to look at. Beginner wedding photographers who shoot “for cheap” try to compensate with post-processing lack of experience in photography. Oddly enough, many clients like this. Apparently, this is a generation whose artistic tastes have been nurtured by Instagram. But demand creates supply, can’t help it! And if there is demand, there appeared a certain caste of preset photographers who, without a deep understanding of retouching, run the footage through presets in Lightroom or other programs and get the end result that suits the client. What’s convenient – go to the city park with a camera, laptop and printer, and offer the service of “snapshot. And strangely enough, there are those who want it!

I’m not going to argue that a photographer has to know how to work with Photoshop (or other photo editing software). At least at a basic level – to correct levels and curves, level out the horizon, remove glare, retouch problematic skin areas. But you have to agree that in most cases these actions are necessary if mistakes are made during taking pictures. Isn’t it better to learn how to take pictures so that you don’t have to Photoshop them later?

Boulder Portrait Photographer Gives Back With Mama & Me Portraits

Boulder portrait photographer for a Cause

This October, Boulder portrait photographer Elizabeth Williamsberg will be celebrating Family Portrait Month. During the entire month of October, $24 of every session fee all month long from any kind of session. Including family, high school senior, glamour, personal branding, and even business headshots, money from every session will be donated to Operation Smile. Operation Smile an international organization that helps children around the world by providing life-changing and, often, life-saving surgeries for little ones born with cleft pallets, cleft lips, and other facial deformities.

Watch the Video Announcement

Join Us September 30th!

To kick this month in to high gear, we’re going to start things off right with a massive party and mini session! On Sunday 30 September we will be hosting a mini portrait session event from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm at Modern Film Studios, 1401 Walnut St, Boulder CO – the Mama and Me mini sessions to benefit Operation Smile!

On that day, for $75, mothers and their children will receive a mini twenty-minute portrait session with award-winning editorial Boulder portrait photographer Elizabeth Williamsberg and two 5Ă—7 fine art gift prints, with all net proceeds from every session donated toward Operation Smile. This year, our the goal is to raise $480, the amount needed to help fund a two life-changing surgeries for a child in desperate need.

The Inspiration Behind Mama & Me

Modern mothers are the most likely to be behind the camera when family photographs are made. As a member of the Professional Photographers of America, I believe that everyone should exist in photographs, and I want the Mama & Me event to support mothers being present with their children in images. Plus, it is never too soon to think about the holidays, and the desk-sized portraits make great gifts for fathers and grandparents!

“Mama & Me” is the perfect opportunity to have your portrait made and make it possible to truly change the lives of children who would otherwise face a lifetime of pain and rejection or even death.

About Operation Smile

Founded in 1982, Operation Smile is a worldwide children’s medical charity dedicated to helping children and young adults born with facial deformities. In as little as 45 minutes, one cleft lip surgery can change a child’s life forever. Every three minutes a child somewhere in the world is born with a facial deformity. One in ten will not survive to see their first birthday. Those who do survive often live in isolation and pain. Each year, more than 100,000 children are born with a facial deformity in Operation Smile’s 26 partner countries. Tens of thousands remain untreated.

Capturing smiles is what portrait photographers do every day. It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate charity for a photographer to support! And when parents participate in this event, it’s a wonderful way to teach children the value of reaching out to others. Even small children can understand the importance of Operation Smile’s work, and they are eager to help these needy children.

Reserve Your Spot Today

Now, our sessions ARE limited, so book yours NOW before the sessions are gone! 

You can go to bit.ly/MamaMe2018 and book your time now!

You can also call 720-391-6575 to reserve your session time over the phone.

If you have ANY questions, I will be doing a live Q&A next week, so make sure to leave a comment with your questions and I will do my best to answer them next week! You can also make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel or like Elizabeth Williamsberg Photography on Facebook to get notification next Tuesday when I go live.

Boulder Family Portraits for a Cause: FAQs

On Sunday 30 September, we will kick off Family Portrait Month a mini portrait session event from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm at Modern Film Studios, 1401 Walnut St, Boulder CO â€“ the Mama and Me mini sessions to benefit Operation Smile! On that day, for $75, parents and their children will receive a mini twenty-minute portrait session and two 5Ă—7 fine art gift prints, with all net proceeds from every session donated toward Operation Smile. This year, our the goal is to raise $480, the amount needed to help fund a two life-changing surgeries for a child in desperate need.

Every year, I get a lot of questions about the mini session events I hold to benefit Operation Smile, so this year I’ve put together a video FAQ (and blog post) to help answer some of the most common questions!

FAQ 1: I am a grandmother / godmother / dad / mother to fur babies / older sibling who is the primary care giver for my siblings… Can I still participate?


Look, I get it. Modern families are as unique as you are.

Maybe you’re a grandparent raising your grandchildren.

Maybe you are a godmother who has a very close relationship with her god child.

Maybe you are a single dad, one of two dads, or a gender-nonconforming parent.

Maybe your babies are more likely to say “meow” or “woof” than they are to say “Mama”.

Mama & Me isn’t about celebrating biological women alone. It is about celebrating the mother-child relationship; that special, nurturing that comes from a bond with a parental figure, regardless of gender. And while that relationship has been traditionally expressed as mother and child, we are playing pretty fast and loose with the definition of “mother” in this instance.

So if your mother is an aunt or uncle who has always been there for you, come on down!

If your mother is an older woman at work who has taken you under her wing and become a Work Mom, please see us!

If your mother figure is your best friend who has always been there for you, for years or decades, available at any time with a cup of coffee and some motherly advice (even if you’re actually the older of the two of you) let’s celebrate that!

Whomever you feel you have a parental bond with, let us capture that forever–and help change the life of a child in the process!

FAQ 2: I cannot make it on 30 September 2018. Will you be having mini sessions on another date?

No, but just because you can’t make our Family Portrait Month kick off party doesn’t mean you cannot be a part of our fundraiser! And hey, I get it. It’s football season — I’m going to be missing my beloved Eagles playing on Sunday because of this fundraiser… which just goes to show how much I believe in this cause.

But I get it. I do. Football is like a religion, and maybe you need to be at Mile High that day. Or maybe you are participating in one of the other community events on 30 September!

No worries!

For the entire month of October, $25 of every session fee all month long plus 10% of the net proceeds of all sales (including personal brand clients and corporate clients) will be donated to Operation Smile. Whether you’re booking a family portrait session, a senior portrait session, professional headshots, glamour headshots, event or wedding photography package, or a personal branding session, $25 from ALL sessions plus 10% of all of the proceeds from the sale will go to Operation Smile! You don’t even have to mention the promotion–it’s automatic!

FAQ 3: Can I get a receipt for this donation? Is this donation tax deductible?

Unfortunately, accounting to our accountant, because we are offering a product (family portrait photography) in exchange for the donation, I cannot offer a receipt that will allow you to deduct the donation from your taxes this year.

HOWEVER: if you want to help us reach our fundraising goal and still take your charitable contribution as a tax deduction this year, there are two options. You can make a donation of any amount you wish and forego the portrait photography all together (because you’re just an awesome, charitable person like that!) or you can make a donation of $25 or more and I will deduct that amount of your donation (up to $100)  from your portrait session fee!

To make a donation, go to our event’s Operation Smile – Smile Fund donation page and make your donation.

When you make a donation of $25 or more, once your payment has been completed, call 720-391-6575 and reserve your session for any day between 1 – 31 October 2018.

Bring a print out as proof that you made your donation *through our Smile Fund page with Operation Smile* and I will discount your session fee up to $100 for the amount of your donation.

Please note that this is NOT applicable to the 30 September 2018 kick off party & mini sessions AND that you MUST make your donation through our Operation Smile – Smile Fund page so that we can track your donation and make sure it is applied to our fundraiser!

About Family Portrait Month

For the entire month of October, I will be celebrating Family Portrait Month. $25 of every session fee all month long from any kind of session (family, high school senior, glamour, etc.) plus 10% of the net proceeds of all sales (including personal brand clients and corporate clients) will be donated to Operation Smile.

About Operation Smile:

Founded in 1982, Operation Smile is an international organization that helps children around the world by providing life-changing and, often, life-saving surgeries for little ones born with cleft pallets, cleft lips, and other facial deformities.

5 Tips for your Next Portrait Session from a Professional Photographer

Elizabeth Williamsberg Photography will kick off the month-long fundraising drive with the Mama and Me portrait mini-session fundraiser, a special mini portrait session event to kickstart Family Portrait Month. During this special event hosted at Medium Film Studios, 1401 Walnut Street, in Downtown Boulder, all participants will receive a mini twenty-minute portrait session, one Facebook cover image, and two 5Ă—7 fine art gift prints. All net proceeds from every session donated toward Operation Smile, a worldwide children’s medical charity dedicated to helping children and young adults born with facial deformities.

Every year I’ve hosted Family Portrait Month, there are a few Frequently Asked Questions regarding how to prep for your photo session, so I’ve put together the top five tips for how to prepare for this — or any — portrait session.

Do: get your hair or make-up professionally done

Yes, even if you are an Instagram influencer or YouTube make-up star, I recommend getting a professional to do your hair and make-up for any portrait session. While your every day make up is great for every day, professional lighting can easily wash out your skin or downplay that dramatic eye you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Camera make-up should be a bit heavier than every day make-up, but not so heavy handed that it looks unbalanced in your portraits.

Moreover, your make-up artist or hair stylist will know what products to use — products you may not already own — and the best way to apply them to emphasize your natural beauty. And, once your portrait session is complete, you’ll look fabulous and feel pampered and ready for dinner, drinks, date night, a girl’s night out, or any other way you want to paint the town red!

If you want to save some money, here’s some advice from MUAs and hair stylists I’ve known over the years:

  1. Do not use make-up with SPF. Yes, SPF if necessary for everyday make-up, but it can absolutely ruin photographs! SPF sits on top of your skin and reflects harmful light away from your skin, preventing damage. This is great for your skin, but terrible for photographs and can result in your skin looking shiny or washed out. My recommendation: invest in a make-up setting spray with SPF. Kate Somerville UncompliKated SPF 50 Soft Focus Makeup Setting Spray (available on Amazon or at Sephora) is a setting spray with SPF 50 that you apply on top of your make-up; apply your SPF-free make-up prior to the session, have your portraits done, and then apply a setting spray with SPF afterward.
  2. Hair or Make-Up: look for matte products hair and face products Glossy vs. matte is a cyclical trend, but one thing that always looks bad: oily skin. Much like SPF products, anything that reflects light for a glossy look is going to end up with your hair or face looking greasy. Yes, those glossy lips look gorgeous; glossy foreheads, not so much. The solution: look for low-gloss or matte products for your face. For your hair, try Paul Mitchell INVISIBLEWEAR Shampoo,10.14 Fl Oz. For contouring, try to avoid products that use reflective particles or appear shimmery and shiny; go for a matte concealer one or two shades lighter than your foundation (I use NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly, or invest in a powder contouring kit like Tarte’s tarteist PRO glow highlight contour palette
  3. Au natural humans: protect yourself from shine! Shine is the enemy of portrait photographers; turn around times are greatly reduced when we do not have to spend hours Photoshopping away shiny skin! For men, gender neutral individuals, or anyone who prefers to avoid make-up, I still highly recommend grabbing some blotting paper to sop up any excess oil (such as Boscia Black Charcoal Blotting Linens, which are excellent for oily or acne-prone skin) or blotting powder (I highly recommend MAKE UP FOR EVER HD Microfinish Pressed Powder -6.2g/0.21oz by MAKEUP FOREVER, which I never go anywhere without!)
  4. Want a Professional for less? Check out a store or beauty school! Many stores, such as MAC Cosmetics, The Body Shop, and Sephora provide make-over services with a minimum purchase ($50 for Sephora). You should call in advance to make an appointment and find out the minimum purchase required, though many have walk-in services available if they are not otherwise busy. Even better: Sephora Rouge and MAC Addict members can have the makeovers done for free! Additionally, call your local beauty school — their students need people on which to practice, and you can often get your make-up or hair done at a significantly reduced rate–sometimes for just the cost of the products used!

Don’t: wait until the day of the session to try a new hair style, go for a facial, or get a spray tan

For weeks, I’ve been eyeing a new hair color trend for fall: toasted coconut hair. I spoke with several salons, interviewed hair stylists, got quotes, and finally chose a hair artist whose portfolio looked perfect, who knew exactly what trend I was talking about, and guaranteed me she could absolutely make my hair look like the photo doing the rounds on Instagram. I was giddy for days after I booked my appointment, and everyone I knew seemed to share the excitement, wondering the day after why I hadn’t posted pictures on Instagram of my new, on-trend hair.

The answer: because it wasn’t new, on-trend toasted coconut hair.

My hair is not a disaster by ANY stretch of the imagination–everyone who’s seen it has said it is very lovely. But it is not what I wanted. It is not the looking I was going for, and it is not exactly the best hair cut and color for my face shape, my skin tone, and my personal style, but it is not the disaster it could have been.

Even if you’ve been going to your stylist for ever, a new cut, style, or color may not look the way you think it will. Your portraits should look like you, not like someone else! Getting a special hair cut or style for one day may make you look amazing, but will it result in a photograph that looks like you, that is recognizably you? Finally, your portraits should be timeless; a new on-trend cut or color may look fabulous on you, but in twenty years will it still be the amazing hair you think it is now or more like a 1980s poofy nightmare?

Guys: this applies to facial hair! If you usually have a full beard, shaving the day off your portraits may be a very bad idea; sun exposure may have resulted in a different (lighter) skin tone where the sun’s rays have been limited in reaching your skin! If you want to go from fuzzy to clean-shaven, give yourself a couple days to shave consistently to get a more-even skin tone or anticipate putting a little tinted moisturizer on your freshly shaved skin. Make sure you use shaving cream and are exfoliating regularly to prevent your freshly-shaved face from razor burn or ingrown hairs! If you haven’t had a shave in a while, but you want to go for the scruffy look, start trimming to your desired length a few days in advance as well.

Thinking about getting a tan?  Similarly, you should not get your spray tan the day off your portrait session. The tan you walk out of the salon with is not the tan you will have eight hours later; some spray tans continue to darken even after your first shower while others appear much darker until your first shower! Moreover, spray tans have a habit of bleeding onto everything–sheets, clothes, etc. — and make-up products may not adhere as well or, worse yet, may remove some of the tan on your face. Plus, studio lighting is HOT — you may well end up sweating a bit and ending up with a streaky, blotchy, or otherwise undesirable tan.

Facials are another form of pampering that seem like a no-brainer, but they’re designed not for picture day! If you are not a regular at your salons when it comes to facials — whether this is your first ever, or your first in a few years — you will want to give your skin a week buffer between your facial and your photographs. Facials can actually cause breakouts, and unless you’ve patch tested all of the products your spa has used, you cannot be sure how your skin will react to even the most gentle and all-natural facial products. Remember: hypo-allergenic is a marketing term; just because your spa says they use hypo-allergenic products does not mean you will not have a reaction.

My recommendation: if you want to update your hair, get a tan or get a facial, wax your eyebrows, or make any other major changes, do it at least 72 hours before your session! That way, if you don’t like it, there’s still time to change the cut, adjust the color, or (if worse comes to worst) get extensions put in.

Do: wear clothing that makes you feel comfortable and confident

There is nothing worse than clothes that are itchy, stiff, tight, or uncomfortable — and it shows in your portraits. The simple fact is: if your clothes aren’t comfortable, you will not look comfortable. This is true no matter what age you are. If you are going to buy a new outfit for your portrait session, make sure you try it on for fit and flattery — does it emphasize what you want to emphasize? Do you feel comfortable in this outfit? Wear your clothing around the house to get used to the feel of the fabric and where the clothes sit on your body. Break in your shoes in advance as well! This is not as applicable for a mini session (unless you intend to go out afterward, but if your session is an hour or two long, there will be a lot of sitting, standing, and moving around. Brand new shoes will make every step agony relatively quickly — especially if they are a perfect fit or (worse yet) too small.

Do: arrive on time

Let’s take the ethics of making someone wait out of the equation. Shit happens – there’s a traffic jam, you get a flat, other things go wrong and delay you. Most people understand that we cannot plan for every contingency, and as adults, we all know it is rude to keep someone waiting and would never do it deliberately.

That said, there are reasons you should give yourself an extra ten or fifteen minutes travel time to try and minimize any delays that could cause you to be tardy. If you are having your make-up done or hair styled at the photographer’s studio — especially on the day of a mini session — the artist or stylist may not do the best job possible because they are rushing or simply unable to do everything you would like because they need to be ready on time for the next client and keep things flowing for the photographer.

Depending on your photographer, punctuality can make or break your photo session. Some photographers are natural light photographers, which means they do not use additional light sources for your portraits. Their appointment times are based on the sun — when the sun is predicted to produce the most flattering light, also known as the golden hour. (If you find a natural light photographer who suggests a noon appointment, you should ask a LOT of questions to make sure you will end up with the best photographs possible. It is possible to be a natural light photographer and shoot at noon, but it takes talent, experience, and skill. Your neighbor with a camera may not be the best choice.) The sun does not wait for you or your photographer, so showing up late to an appointment with a natural light photographer — or any outdoor session — will shorten the time your photographer has to shoot. Your photographer may rush to get all of the images you agreed upon, and you will either end up with a product that is not as fabulous as it could have been or waiting several weeks while your photographer makes adjustments in Photoshop.

Even if your photographer is a studio photographer (or making outdoor portraits with pro lighting that can overpower the sun/compensate for ambient light) you may not be the only session they have booked that day. They will need to move on to their next client on time, and you will once again end up with fewer photos or photos of less quality.

Most of all, running late is stressful for everyone involved–and it shows. Just like wearing uncomfortable clothes, stress shows in photographs, and when you are running late, you will feel stressed. If you are being photographed with someone else — a group of friends, a spouse, or your family — the relationship captured will look very different from the loving relationship that should be seen because running late puts people on edge.

My recommendation: plan and prepare to reschedule if necessary. Give yourself more time than you think you need to arrive. If you’ve never been to the location, don’t just rely on Siri or Google Maps–double-check the location. If you’ve been to the location, make sure you give yourself time to park and assume finding parking will take you a few minutes.

If you are hiring a professional make-up artist or hair stylist, tell them what time you absolutely need to walk out the door to be on time as well as what you are having done when you book your appointment. Make sure to communicate this again with your artist or stylist, and set your drop-dead deadline for leaving is five or ten minutes before your GPS says it should be. (For example: if your portrait session is at 4:00 PM and the salon is fifteen minutes away, tell your stylist you need to be out the door by 3:30 PM.) That way, if your hair does not want to cooperate (it happens) or your eyes keep watering away your eyeliner (me!) you have a small buffer to work with.

Make sure you have your photographer’s studio number (or cell number if you are shooting on location) and be prepared to call and reschedule as soon as you know you are going to be more than 10 minutes later. Yes, your photographer may charge a fee to reschedule (they’re not going to be able to book someone else for your session time on short notice) but your pictures will look MUCH better when everyone is relaxed and having a great time!

Do: communicate with your photographer (and make-up artist or hair stylist, if using) before your session

Communication is the key to any relationship, and you should have a working relationship with your photographer! You and your photographer (as well as your make-up artist and hair stylist) should be on the same page about the goals of your photo session. Before you book your session, you should discuss what you want your portraits to look like and what your goals for your portraits are. Are you looking for images for your social media profile, or are you looking for fine art wall portraits for your home? Are you looking for a natural, boho style or a glamorous, editorial style image? Every photographer should ask you questions about what you are looking for, but if they don’t, make sure you state your expectations. Like a job interview, hiring a professional photographer is a relationship that works both ways; you need to make sure you can work with each other and feel comfortable interacting, but also make sure what they are offering is what you want.

Whether your session is twenty minutes or an all day event (or something in-between) make sure your photographer knows what images you absolutely must have!  Do you want all family portraits or a session that are some group portraits, some individual portraits of your children, and some portraits of just you and your spouse? Is it imperative that you have full length portraits or do you only need headshots? If your images are for professional purposes (publications, acting, modeling, etc) communicate what you absolutely must have from your session. If there are stylistic requirements, say so. For example: some publications have very strict guidelines about engagement announcement images such as eyes being on the same line, vertical, with minimal blank space. If you need images made within such guidelines, provide them in advance. If this is outside of your photographer’s ability, style, or comfort zone, they should tell you so you can hire a photographer for whom such images are their forte!

Moreover, you should communicate your timeline for your session as well. If you are going to a hair stylist or make-up artist in advance, let your photographer know. If you are going out to dinner or have other plans afterward, let the photographer know so they can be conscientious with time management. I have definitely lost track of time during an amazing session where everyone was having a great time. If you need to be somewhere, let your photographer know in advance so they can create a timeline of the images to be made and know when to cut image to make sure that the images you NEED are captured.

This is also applicable to your make-up artist or hair stylist.  If you want to emphasize a particular feature, tell them! If you are limited for time, say so! Speak up about what you need, and if you are not getting what you want, say something so that it can be made right!

My recommendation: think of your pre-photography consult like a job interview. If you have things that are absolutely non-negotiable, say so. If there’s something about your body you would like to emphasize — or something you would like to hide — let us know! Please communicate in advance so that your photographer (and make-up artist or hair stylist) can plan and be prepared for you so that your session runs as smoothly as possible and you get the best possible images from each and every session! AND, if you feel your photographer is not listening, if you feel your photographer may not be able to photograph what you’re asking, or you have any other doubts, find one that you feel comfortable working with!