January 8, 2019
Thinking about booking a photographer to document this season in your life? Well, it doesn’t matter what type of photography you need, there are a few general guidelines you should keep in mind! We hope these portrait photography tips help you with planning and preparing for your future sessions!
Sunlight is EVERYTHING in a photograph. Certain photography styles play with the lighting in different ways. For a beautiful, light and dreamy photograph that highlights you and/or your loved ones, the best lighting is about two hours after sunrise or before sunset. Planning your session at these times will provide that beautiful glow of the golden hours. The glow will highlight your hair, keep the dark shadows from under your eyes, and provide options for open shade.
Can you have a session any other time of the day? Sure, you could. Again, it depends on your photographer’s style. Unless we are waking up at the crack of dawn, all of our portrait sessions are scheduled for two hours before sunset! We love photographing during this time because the light is softer and more diffused!
We understand that families often revolve around nap, dinner, and bedtime, but we highly recommend that families break the schedule for one evening so that your photos are everything you could dream of! It is also important to remember that the sun sets earlier in the evening during the winter and fall months! If breaking your family routine isn’t the best option for you, you could also stick with fall family photos!
When choosing your location for a light and airy photograph with all the dreamy and golden glow feels, it is important that you choose a location that has open spaces, and allows the light to drop down and highlight each of you, but also has areas of open shade. Open shade means that you can look up and see the sky, but that the sun isn’t harsh on your skin, creating blotchy and uneven light.
Take a look at the two images above as a reference. The photo on the left is a very sweet photograph, but it is in front of what we call a black hole and when they look up to the sky, it is covered by trees. It is impossible to make this photograph bright and airy where we can focus just on the mom and daughter in the photograph! The picture on the right is a beautiful image of an expecting family. They are in open shade and have a gorgeous backlighting effect so that you can see the golden glow.
The image below is a photograph taken in complete open shade, where the sun is just falling behind the mountains to the left of the mom-to-be! So if your photographer is scoping out locations and it might not be exactly what you have in mind! Remember these tips about choosing a location to shoot and trust them!
It is also very important to keep the surrounding landforms in mind. If you have higher elevation areas, thick tree lines, or mountains, you want to start your session earlier in the day so that it doesn’t get dark too quickly!
We have seen all kinds of things during our time as photographers. We have lived and learned. Now, when we schedule sessions, we plan for acts of God, unforeseen traffic, stress, children, sunset, and landforms! So if you work with a photographer who has yet to become that natural light specialist and planner to perfection, keep these ideas in mind when you go to schedule and plan for your session!
Oh, and don’t choose a photographer based on availability! If you see a photographer you think you would connect with, and you love their images, reach out to them ahead of time! Choose a date that works best for both of you, and give yourselves a chance to mentally and physically prepare!
Give yourself time to plan haircuts or up-dos, facial scrubs, and daily lotion applications, so you feel beautiful in your skin. The worst thing is getting photographs back and hating them because your fiance’s hairline on his neck is untrimmed, you made a last minute decision to dye your hair and now it is brassy, oh- and the dog puked on your outfit so you threw on jeans and ran out the door… No! Don’t Do It! =]
Before booking your session, it is also important to know your photographer’s turnaround time! If you need holiday cards or photographs for a gift, you want to make sure you book with enough time so that you don’t add extra stress on your plate!
Have a backup outfit, be comfortable and confident in your hair at least a week prior to your session, and be sure not to change up your daily hygiene routine to avoid dry/oil skin, breakouts, or orange fake tanned skin! If your skin or stress levels are affected by your cycle ladies, think about that when you schedule your session so that you can feel the best in your own body and skin!
If your spouse isn’t super into having portraits taken or he/she isn’t really into getting dressed up, choose their outfit for them and have it out when it is time to get dressed up! Should we have to do this for our significant others? Eh, who am I to say, but I will say if you want to avoid the stress or any possible chance of arguing before being in front of the camera, we recommend we do it anyway!
YOU NEVER KNOW! You could get stuck behind a bus, there could be an accident, you could have a car mishap, or just have to unexpectedly stop and use the bathroom. Sometimes parking at locations can be tricky, and you may need additional time to park or find the exact location! If you have kiddos in the car, this also allows them to wake up from their nap and become acquainted with the location.
Make sure you have an exact meeting location for your photographer. Know that you are parking in the exact same coordinates so there aren’t any mix-ups that take away your enjoyable experience or your time with sunlight!
Have snacks and a bottle of water on hand. Even if you don’t have children in the session. Sometimes, beautiful images require that you walk a bit to get to a great location. Often times, when preparing for a session, our clients get caught up in what needs to be done and they don’t eat beforehand. Get to your spot early and eat a snack!
Keep at least $10 cash in your car, just in case! Sometimes locations will require you pay an entry fee. Even though we check to see if entry fees are required at our locations, sometimes they catch us by surprise! If you have the money on hand, you won’t have to stress getting into your shoot location!
Please don’t be afraid to dress up! We had clients try to fight us on this one because they are casual people, dressing up isn’t their style, or they want their photos to just go on their holiday card, but we do our best to convince them otherwise. Every time we do they are singing our praises and thanking us for encouraging them to make the decision to say yes to the dress! Dressing up adds this beautiful dynamic to your photographs. It flatters all body types and styles and brings an element of movement and elegance to your photographs.
Having a dress or long skirt to play with provides something for your hands to do. This eliminates any “Barbie or Ken” hands, that look awkwardly placed. Moving your dress/skirt around also brings movement and variety into your photos! And of course, if you go with the dress, then your man has to rock the suit or dress shirt with the sleek dress pants, and a belt. We promise… you will love it!
It is also beautiful when bringing accessories to your session. Add in a fresh floral crown, a bouquet of flowers, or a beautiful jewelry statement piece!
Invest in more than your photographs… invest in the experience, from beginning to end.
Remember when we shared that it is important to invest in the whole experience? Save up money, and budget for your photography services once a year and do it RIGHT! We think you are absolutely stunning just the way you are. You’re own style, the way you do your hair, and regardless if you wear makeup, BUT… this is your chance to invest in yourself. Take the stress off by taking the day off of work, grabbing a manicure and getting your hair and makeup done for your portrait session.
RELAX. Life isn’t perfect, we know that, both personally and realistically. However, we also know that through all the roller coaster rides, the lessons learned, and sometimes (or always) living paycheck to paycheck, there is so much joy to be had and so much to be thankful for. WE WANT TO CAPTURE ALL THAT BEAUTY AND ALL THAT JOY as it is in that moment. So live it, revel in it, and feel it throughout your entire experience! If you need ideas on who to work with, check out our Baltimore, MD dream team.
Oh goodness, the contract. It is a nuisance, we know… and often has some legal mumbo-jumbo, but it is a necessity to keep both you and your photographer safe. However, that contract is only as good as it is PERCEIVED TO BE! If you read it one way and your photographer means for it to be perceived another way than that contract just means you signed what you THOUGHT they meant. So… we suggest you read the contract, read it one more time, and schedule a quick phone call with your photographer to just chat about how you received the contract.
If you invest with us at MaeWood Photography, we will schedule a consultation phone call with you prior to ever accepting your first payment to do just that. We will go over what to expect in your session and throughout the whole process as it is outlined in your contract! If you ever have any questions, PLEASE DON’T HESITATE TO ASK! This will keep your investment safe, and will often help your photographers and others. If you have the question, there is a pretty good chance someone else will too!
Family members don’t pass down USB drives, Instagram feeds, or blog posts… they pass down printed images of family members and friends. These precious little pieces of print or the elegant canvases that hang on your walls are family heirlooms, artwork for your homes for generations to come. Invest in them and keep them safe. Digital photography started getting big when I was born, and my grandmother has kept every photograph during my lifetime on USBs, CDs, DVDs, external hard drives and online servers. She has even scanned the prints and saved them digitally, which is very sweet of her and you would think cause less clutter; but she is still trying to organize all those photos and even with all the folders and organizational systems in place, we couldn’t find a specific photograph if we tried.
Now my photo albums and the photo books I have created over the years, they stay in my living room on my bookshelf. There for me to glance through whenever I feel the need and there for other people to browse through when they visit. The artwork covers my walls so I can relive those moments in time…when my baby girl was a wee-bit when I exchanged vows with the love of my life, and when my puppy was basking in the sun on that warm summer day 8 years ago.
These pieces, these heirlooms, these cherished pieces of artwork are some of my most treasured items, and I will be able to pass these onto my daughter when the time comes. Now, eventually we may need an entire house to keep all of the photographs we have kept in our families, and I am not saying you shouldn’t keep digital backups… but please…. PLEASE. Invest in the high-quality artwork of your photographs. Your beautiful images aren’t just meant for the yearly holiday card. Display them proudly for years and generations to come!
When you purchase your high-quality artwork from MaeWood Photography, your products are guaranteed for life. That’s how important we feel your artwork is.