Countdown to your Portrait Shoot

You’ve booked a portrait shoot! Awesome, now what?


These tips and timelines below are designed to help you make the most of your portrait shoot before you even step in front of the camera.

As with most things in life, preparation is key.


Preparation for your photographer prior to shoot day includes the obvious like making sure memory cards are formatted, batteries are charged, and the studio or location is prepared. We also spend time on the not so obvious - planning our lighting, planning the poses we are going to walk you through and depending on the shoot, creating or collaborating on a mood board.

You as the client should be able to walk into the shoot feeling confident, knowing that we’ve got you. But I hear you, it’s not so easy right? I’ve been shooting portraits for more than 15 years and I still get butterflies in my tummy before a shoot. Just because it’s my passion doesn’t mean I don’t still get nervous. If I’m really honest though, it’s not really nerves, just the tingle of excitement and anticipation - like the feeling you get before unwrapping a present.


Because I’ve prepared beforehand, I can embrace that energy and direct it into my shoot instead of worrying.

It’s my goal to make you feel as comfortable as possible during your shoot, and I’ve compiled a list of practical tips that you can implement in the days and weeks leading up to the shoot.



  1. Prepare all your outfits in advance.


The style of shoot (e.g. headshots, maternity, boudoir, contemporary) will determine the outfits you need and it's a good idea to try them all on beforehand.


For all studio sessions, I recommend three base looks:

something semi-casual (your typical weekend lunch-with-the-girls look),

something smart (a professional work outfit)

and something glam (a little black dress, a date-night outfit, or even a ball gown).


Don’t just pull something out of your cupboard because you think it ‘might’ look good in a photo. If you’re wearing something you feel really good in and is a style you would wear regularly, then those should be your first choices. Because if you feel comfortable in the outfits you’ve chosen, you’ll already feel more confident in front of the lens.



2. Need a haircut or colour? If possible, plan these for two weeks before your shoot.


This allows time for the style to settle and gives you time for a save if there is a colour disaster and your ash blonde comes out more like more like pumpkin spice.



3. Any beauty treatments like waxing should be done close enough to the booking that there isn’t any regrowth but also with enough time before the shoot that there’s no residual redness or skin sensitivity.


You'll know your body best for this one.



4. Keep well hydrated!


It seems like an odd tip to have your photographer remind you to drink enough water, but hydrated skin gives you a great base for makeup application. Plus, hands up if you’re like me where dehydration = crankiness! Bring along a water bottle to the shoot too.



5. Try and get enough sleep in the week leading up to the shoot



6. On the day, cleanse and moisturise as normal, but arrive bare-faced to your shoot if you are having your hair and make-up done. I always start the session with a natural make-up application and then progress to a more dramatic look if required. If you are doing your own make-up, bring your kit along for any necessary touch-ups during the session.

The next tip is a bit different:

7. Write down your reason for doing the shoot.


There could be a hundred reasons why you are doing the session and may be obvious such as ‘I’m pregnant, so I must do a maternity shoot’. Or, ‘I’m looking for a new job and I haven’t had a LinkedIn portrait update since 2010’.


If you did a little deeper though, your reasons for choosing a portrait session can go a lot deeper. Journal about what you want to achieve in your session. You might want to be reminded that your pregnancy body is strong and powerful, or you want your new profile image to show you as the go-getter you feel you are. These thoughts don’t ever have to be shared with anyone - but they do help to ground you and help you mentally prepare for a positive experience and outcome.



What you DON’T need to do is spend hours in the mirror practicing poses you saw in magazines. Posing you is MY job, and I’ve studied posing techniques to flatter everybody and every body. One thing you could try beforehand is finding your ‘comfy leg’. Stand with your feet just wider than hip width and put your weight into one leg, then the other. Most of us have a leg that we feel more comfortable rocking onto - you’ll find this is the leg you automatically shift your weight into when standing in a queue for example. That shift of weight is the basis for all my standing poses.



And if in doubt, ask! Trust me, there are no silly questions when it comes to your shoot. After all, this is a portrait experience that is designed to be as individual as you are.


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© 2020 by Leigh Benson Photography | hello@leighbensonphotography.com | 083 296 8466