Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How to Prepare For Your Session | Arizona Wedding and Portrait Photographer

It's 2004. The game is about to start. Soccer. That was my life. My passion. As we step onto the field to warm up, the butterflies start kicking in, but soon subside as I realize it's just warm up. Soon, over the announcer's speaker system starts blaring our pump up music. I'm getting in the zone for the game. The louder the music, the more shots I nail as we warm up, the more in the zone I get.

Suddenly, the loud whistle of the referee pulls me back to reality. The music turns off, we gather as a team, and butterflies creep into my stomach once again as we wait to hear who would kick off and what side we'd be on.

As we take our positions on the field, I just feel sick to my stomach. Every time. But I was ready. The whistle blows, the game begins, and I'm off. One minute later, the butterflies are gone, and I'm in full on beast mode.

Okay, so why on earth would I be sharing my 9th grade soccer story when I'm talking about getting ready to step in front of the camera. Because I think it's so easy for people to get nervous before shoots and leading into them. Those first 10-15 minutes, I'm working on getting those butterflies out of their stomachs and getting them into their own "beast mode"--where they're comfortable, relaxed, and having fun.  In soccer, we prepped for games and it made all the difference. Today I want to share a few tips with you to help you get "game day" ready too!

I'd say 99.9% of the people I photograph have never modeled before. And that's great! I start with a clean slate, and I get to teach you as I go. Almost all my pictures turn out relaxed, happy, and beautiful, and the very few that don't I either don't give in the gallery or I do if it was a hilarious moment that I think the couple would have fun looking at.

So, here are some things for all those who aren't models or those that get uncomfortable being in front of a camera, can do to prepare for their photoshoot. And if anyone has any tips that I don't mention, please feel free to comment and share! I love the support of a community!

Photo credit Vanasse Studios
1. Preparation is key. Before my husband's and my anniversary photo shoot last month, he asked me the night before what I wanted him to do--if we should practice posing, different expressions, etc. Want to hear what I told him?

Just don't stress. Don't stress and be happy. I'll do my best to be on time and even if I'm not, don't get mad.

Best advice ever. This shoot went so well because we didn't have to pose awkwardly together because we were angry at each other because he was rushing me and I got mad and he got mad and the car ride was rushed and we were stressed......

Has anyone been there? (Raises hand sheepishly). Yes. And, that's not fun for anyone. :) So, here are a few tips to help keep you prepared.

-Plan the outfits way ahead of time. Lay them out. Put them all on and make sure you like how they fit.
-Have a little mini meeting with everyone the day before. As long as one person takes the lead, they can meet everyone separately. Just create a game plan for the day--what time everyone is showering (especially if it's a big family), what time people are getting ready, what time you're leaving, (plan for at least 15 minutes before you actually would need to leave....something always goes wrong).
-If you're on time, and no one is stressed, then your life is amazing, and why not rock out to some of your favorite music on the way there and make it a party!

With a family as big as ours, this took some serious preparation....and this was a surprise for my mom's Christmas present. I secretly went to each person in my family, told them I wanted to surprise Mom, and asked them to be good sports and cooperate. As you can tell, most of them listened. There were still a few funny faces as per usual, but it was the smoothest family pictures we've ever taken. Even in the middle of winter in Idaho :)

2. Prepare your guys. Whether it be your fiancé, husband, boyfriend, little man. Sometimes they can be the hardest person to get on board with pictures. Let's face it, most guys would rather be paint balling and playing video games in their time off from work. Here's a little tip. Sit him down and tell him how excited you are for these pictures and how much they mean to you. Show him a couple sessions your photographer has done with other couples, families, etc. and just show him how excited you are. He'll jump on board. If not, there is always bribery :)

3. This goes out to my families! If you have children, sometimes it's good to also have a bribe in place. I would go with making a party out of the whole experience and go out to dinner after or something. It's all how you posture it. I just volunteered to photograph a super fun event at my husband's dental school for under served kids who likely would never visit a dentist growing up. The school put on this huge party for these kids while they do dental work for them. So, even though there were some sad kids who got some cavities filled, the rest of the day was a really fun experience. If you make it a party, hopefully the next time will be even easier.

4. Make sure everyone is fed! So you may have to add a little time into your schedule, but trust me. It's worth it. There's nothing worse than someone getting hangry. Yes, I typed that right. "HANGRY". Hunger mixed with anger is a terrifying thing and much harder to get good pictures.....especially if it's a 2 year old. Just saying :)

Our hangry and cold fault. Live and learn. (Photo credit: Marquette LaRee Photography)
5. Trust your photographer and come being open to new ideas. Your photographer will know where the best lighting will be that will look most flattering. Sometimes it's in weird locations. For example, there's this AMAZING desert park I love to shoot at here in the Phoenix area. It has gorgeous red rocks, but I can only get those in the background of pictures for 15 minutes when the sun has just set. Otherwise the light will be too harsh on my subjects and be less flattering. So if there is an amazing background and your photographer is taking pictures of what seems to be the "less cool" angle, ask them why and trust their answer. They're doing their best to make you and the pictures look fantastic.

For posing, you may have some ideas. That's great! We love ideas and trying new things! Just be open to taking direction from your photographer. She/he is your coach. It's a little give and take. Trust your photographer's posing abilities and preparation and give input when you want to try something new or feel uncomfortable. But again, let your photographer take the lead.

6. Come with confidence. Trust me, you're going to look amazing. I'll make sure that happens. It's so fun when people step out of their comfort zone and try new things. I see this most with senior girls and guys, but also with bride's when I say "show me your model face " (serious face). Some of these may not be the pictures you put out on cards and social media, but they are so fun to try and have in your gallery. And sometimes they turn into amazing shots that you just adore! (These are the fun poses you can practice in front of the mirror before you come.)

7. Last but not least, own that fake laugh! It may be hard to believe that many of those laughs are fake laughs in my pictures, but yes, sometimes I tell my clients to fake laugh, and when they give it 100% and own it, magic happens in the camera. The more awkward you feel, the funnier it is and then the real laughs happen. Just own that fake laugh. You'll love the results.

These girls owned their fake laughs and made this shot so fun!

Finally, it's not normal to be in front of a camera getting photographed by a professional photographer. I even get nervous when my friends take pictures of me on phones.  My job is to get the pictures to show how you truly interact in real life. Show that natural joyful love, happiness, and playfulness. You may feel awkward at times, but you'll relax and those images will be the ones you treasure.


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