Casual to Formal

Photography is the art of producing meaningful images one snapshot at a time. With considerable amounts of labor necessary for producing a successful portrait shoot, knowing how to prepare for one can save time, energy and money. Bright lights, inconvenient posing, and ample smiles: a photo shoot can be just that. But with the right steps, both the photographer and client can expect to walk away with quality photos. Follow these steps to ensure the most out of your session.

Confirm Your Shoot

So you’ve booked a portrait shoot! What next? Your photographer should call to confirm the session’s date, time, and location. As the client, now is the time to ask any last minute questions or express any worries. Remember, you hired the photographer because they are the expert in this field. Feel free to be honest about any concerns, as their goal is to provide a memorable shoot along with a variety of pictures. Utilize weather sites and applications, and be aware of potential weather changes in the forecast. Additionally, designate a backup location or future date in the event of necessary rescheduling.


Location is the most important aspect of your portrait shoot. This will determine the overall theme of the shoot, what you should wear and the appropriate materials for the setting. Be aware of certain locations, both outdoor and indoor, that suit a variety of tastes and themes. Places such as nature reserves, state parks, or downtown locations will typically be free of charge but are open to the public, so be cautious of photobombers. Additionally, other venues hold service fees for using their landscaped areas or rooms, so feel free to discuss those options with your photographer. Studios are ideal for most professional photography shoots, as the controlled temperature and lighting ensures for a optimal session. Once your location is selected, do a walk through during the same time of day as your shoot. Be creative with nooks and crannies you find, and note the more attractive areas with evenly-lit backgrounds. Familiarity with the location is key for shoot success.


Assemble your outfits as soon as possible. Aim for clothing that allows for both comfort and confidence. Once you know which pieces work well together, set aside an additional outfit for the purposes of wardrobe malfunction or simply a different look. Booked a professional headshot session? Gather pieces typically worn to business meetings or conferences, and stray away from distracting jewelry. Hosting a casual company photo? Coordinate with coworkers in the office to decide on a specific color being worn or the theme of the picture. Consider shoe type and wardrobe color based on the location and time of year. For shoots booked during warmer times at outdoor locations, consider white and pastels to avoid perspiration issues. Portrait shoots occurring throughout fall and winter seasons should be accompanied with clothing that provides more protection from the elements. Plan accordingly.

Things to Remember

  • Make A Checklist
    Preparing a checklist is key prior to any photoshoot. Include items you own as well as specific ones you may need to purchase in advance. As you roundup the materials listed, make note of unexpected changes that can occur. Remember Murphy’s Law: anything that can happen, will happen! Toiletries such as deodorant, tissues, bandaids, and water will always come in handy no matter the location, time of day, or person. More specifically, based on your location, humidity, insects, or any other outside element may inhibit your shoot success. List bug spray, sunscreen, and any other supplies that might enable the control of the setting. If there exists a slight chance of needing an item, note it and pack it.

  • Props and Inspiration
    Have any special props you would like to include? Signs, books, chalkboards, balloons, couches, baskets, chairs or any other item you wish to be photographed has the potential to truly add to the photograph. Not only will they deliver uniqueness according to your personal style, but the props will provide a more authentic feel. Planning a theme for the portrait shoot? Select items that coincide with it! Brainstorm ideas of props you feel would best capture the essence of the session. Bringing along props aids in the creative process of both you and the photographer. Social Media websites like Tumblr and Pinterest are the perfect for generating the perfect inspiration for your photography session! If you choose to select a theme, use search engines on these sites to help filter through. The key is to make the idea into your own. Incorporate hobbies, memories, your job, or anything that contributes to how you envision the picture.

Preparation ensures confidence both behind and in front of the camera. Keep these tips in mind when considering booking your next portrait shoot!