How to get the most out of your personal portrait session

How to get the most out of your personal portrait session

Getting a personal portrait session can be nerve-wracking if you’ve never done one before. That’s why I aim to give my clients a very different experience when it comes to this kind of photoshoot.

I’ve been offering personal portrait sessions in the Bay Area for over five years now (and several years before that in New York). My goal for these types of photoshoots is to capture your essence; what makes you unique. And to empower you, making you feel confident and comfortable in your own skin. The focus here isn’t solely on your body but rather on your personality, your style, the way you move and express yourself, and so much more. I usually have long conversations with women during these shoots. We talk about their individuality and other topics surrounding body image, insecurities and self love. During your session we’ll keep the conversation going to help you feel at ease; confident and completely comfortable.

Getting Ready

Knowing what to expect will heKnowing what to expect will help you get prepared and feel confident during a boudoir style photoshoot. Whether you’re looking for nude portraits or more artistic portraits, you can get prepared for your session by:

  • Getting a haircut or wax
  • Picking out and test accessories
  • Picking out your outfits
  • Get inspired – create a mood board
  • Creating a playlist of music for the portrait session
  • Making sure to take care of yourself
  • Deciding on your boundaries.

It might seem like a lot but it’s actually kind of exciting to get prepared for a session like this! Here is a bit more info on how you can make the most of the weeks leading up to your personal portrait photoshoot.

Haircuts and Waxing

In the week leading up to your appointment make sure you do all the things that make you feel the most confident about your appearance. If you like a fresh haircut, a root touch up, or an eyebrow wax be sure to schedule these things about a week before your photo shoot. This gives you time to make any necessary adjustments before the day of your portrait session. If you’re planning to have any other waxing done, make sure you do this several days before your shoot to avoid any lingering redness.

Create a Mood Board

Gather images of photos you like and put them in a mood board for us to review together. If you want to do certain poses, or want a certain style for your session, a mood board will help me understand exactly what you want. If you need some inspiration to get started, check out my Pinterest mood board to see some of my past work. You can also take a look at different session styles I’ve done in studio and in different locations.

Test Out Your Accessories 

Play around with what accessories you are planning to bring ahead of time to see how they feel in your hands and what you feel comfortable doing. Jewelry, hairpiece, and hats are all great ideas to test out. Accessories don’t have to be traditional things either. Flowers, fabrics, or even your favorite plant baby can all find their way into your session if you want.

Music

Make a playlist with songs that will make you feel confident. Having some more dance/upbeat songs is great but you won’t want all of them to be super upbeat. We want to find space for those quiet, serene moments too! I have playlists we can use as well, so don’t worry if you can’t find the right combination or don’t know what kind of music to pick.

Self-Care

Moisturize your skin, get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water and eat a healthy breakfast. Taking care of yourself gives your skin a nice, healthy glow, and taking care of yourself in general will help you feel like the best version of yourself. Try to avoid things that will dehydrate you like coffee or alcohol.

Makeup

I always encourage my clients to treat themselves to professional makeup. I work with amazing artists such as Tamra Marie and Kalyn Slaughter. When working with my fantastic makeup artists you want to arrive with a clean fresh face. Yes, a little SPF is ok. The artists I work with will make sure you look and feel ready for the camera.

If you’ve opted to do your own you definitely should do a test run before the shoot. Or go with your standard go-to look. When doing your own makeup the general rule to follow is less is more. A tinted moisturizer and mascara is enough if you are going for a no-makeup look.

Pick Out Your Wardrobe

Decide what you’re going to wear at your shoot, but also what you will wear to your shoot. Try to pick loose-fitting clothing so you don’t have any indentations from the elastic on your skin when it’s time to start shooting. (This means AVOID wearing socks to your appointment!)

We can have a discussion about the best outfits to wear for your photoshoot depending on your needs. If you want a more traditional boudoir photoshoot, you could wear revealing lingerie or you might choose to go nude. If you are wanting an artistic or alternative approach we can do different combinations of clothing.

Pack Your Bag

Get everything ready a few days before your appointment. This will help you to have time to remember everything you might have missed. You can always bring more than you think you will need. Oh and maybe throw a couple unconventional things in there – like your favorite blazer, or old faded fee. Also – pro tip, make sure you don’t forget your bag on the way out the door. I usually put my keys on top of the bag if I think I will forget it.

Decide on your boundaries 

How nude do you want to be? I treat all nude images with extra care. And you will approve any images that get shared from the session. Some clients want to show their full body, while others are open to dipping their toes into an implied nude. All bodies are perfect the way they are, and I work hard to make sure you’re completely comfortable before shooting any images. But it is important for you to decide what your boundaries are so you can communicate them with me.

Think about the end result

Will this be an album? prints? do you want to have some close up and more abstract shots thrown in the mix. Having some ideas beforehand will make sure we get the shots you need to make your dream products come true.

Get To Know Your Photographer

And finally, one of the most important things you should do is communicate your fears, anxieties, and hang-ups with me before and during your personal portrait session. These kinds of deep conversations surrounding insecurities are really important because it helps me get to know you, and work with you in a way that makes you feel comfortable, confident and accepting of your body just the way it is. I believe that every woman’s body deserves to be celebrated, not mocked, and that you are perfect just the way you are.

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All images © Ella Sophie | Commercial Photographer | Oakland, CA

ellasophiephoto@gmail.com | 510.844.4191