How to Prepare for a Photo Session in 4 Simple Steps

I don’t know about you, but I still get butterflies before my photo sessions. Thankfully, the butterflies have become more from excitement than from nerves as they used to be, but they can still throw me “off” if I’m not careful. Like you, I want to go into each and every session fully prepared and ready to give my clients a great experience. Coming up with a way to ensure I am organized and ready every time has been key. These are key things I do to prepare for a photo session.

Prepare for a Photo Session
Image courtesy of J Turner Fine Art.

Step 1: Client Info

Before every session, I take time to review all of my client’s information. I pay extra attention to things like names, ages of kids, and any interesting tidbits I’ve made note of to make for easy conversation and ice breakers during the session. Using a client questionnaire is a great way to gather pertinent information for your clients, and is great to review just before their session. I also make sure I have my client’s contact information on hand in case I need to reach them.

Step 2: Equipment

I make sure to check and clean all of my equipment before each session. I make sure my battery is fully charged, as well as a spare, and ensure the lenses I plan to use are clean and ready.  I also format the memory card I plan to use, and make sure I have extras on hand in case something goes wrong.

Read more about How to Avoid Memory Card Failure here!

Step 3: Packing List

Utilizing a packing list – for things like blankets, reflector, step stool, etc. can be really helpful. Most of the time I don’t need this, but occasionally if I’m shooting a session that’s out of my norm, I will make a note of things to take a long that may not usually go with me.

Step 4: The Plan

I like to find a balance between “letting the session happen” and having a plan. When I first began, I thought it would be more “laid back” to just let the session unfold, but what I found was that when I was without a plan, things tended to go south. Your clients need you to have a plan, and a good professional can strike a perfect balance between having a plan, and being flexible to adapt to the natural flow of a session. I go into my sessions with a general plan and tend to modify the plan as we go. Having a plan also helps you to not get stuck for ideas, or wondering what you should be doing next. One of the biggest confidence killers of new photographers is feeling unsure of themselves. Having a plan that you follow at every session takes the guesswork out of the session!

For example, in my family sessions, I always start with “movement” shots of the family walking and interacting before going into more “posed” shots. This helps relax them and is a very low pressure way to ease them into the session. Then I will pull the kids aside for individual photos before going back to family shots. By taking time early on for individual photos with the kids, it allows me time with each child for us to interact and to build my rapport with them. Once they are warmed up to me, I have a lot more luck getting cooperation from them in the family pictures. While this is my general plan, at any time it can change or be adapted if the session is naturally flowing differently.

By following these steps, I am able to walk into any photo session feeling confident and prepared. Once you have a plan for how to prepare for a photo session, you rest assured you are ready to do your best for your clients, and focus on giving them a great experience and great photos.

Still feeling nervous before your sessions? Click here to read our 3 Ways to Calm Your Nerves before a Photo Session!