OK, I'M JUST GOING TO CALL OUT THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM.
Whether you wear your emotions on your face or you're a brick wall, I've done this long enough to know that about 99.9% percent of people that arrive to a photoshoot come as a nervous wreck. On the outside, you're hoping that your super cool outfit and smooth smile are hiding the fact that inside, you're thinking: I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M DOING, WILL HE TELL ME WHAT TO DO, I KNEW I SHOULD'VE PRACTICED IN FRONT OF THE MIRROR BEFORE I GOT HERE, I HOPE HE DOESN'T MAKE ME DO SOMETHING DUMB, I DON'T LOOK GOOD WITHOUT SMILING, WHAT IF HE DOESN'T CATCH MY GOOD SIDE, WILL HE TELL ME IF I HAVE SOMETHING IN MY TEETH, WHAT IF HE'S AWKWARD, WHAT I'M AWKWARD...
The list could go on for days, but for the sake of time, I'll cut it there. One of my favorite moments in every session is the response to the first thing I tell everyone I've shot with since day 1: "You don't have to think AT ALL on this shoot. I will guide you on where to look, what to do, what expression to make, where to put your hands, EVERYTHING. If I see any loose hairs, wardrobe malfunction, ANYTHING, I will fix it all for you. I want everyone I shoot with to have fun and people can only do that if they don't have to think so LET'S HAVE SOME FUN!"
The look of relief is priceless. The shoulders drop, the smile gets bigger, and now the excitement begins. While nailing the exposure, getting the right angles, and exploring creative ideas are all objectives of mine, my ultimate goal for every session I do is to capture that person's personality for who they genuinely are. I've spent years learning what tools are needed to dig through the layers of the anxiety, uncomfortability, and insecurities that come with having a camera pointed at you. While I believe that it's our job as photographers to do most of the work on this end, I want to help you, the one in front of the camera, with some ways to prepare for your shoot so that the drive to your session can be one of anticipation and not nervousness.
1. S T U D Y Y O U R S E L F
I had a friend ask me one time, "What do you do when you shoot with someone that doesn't seem to like any photos of themselves?" My response was simple. I ask them to show me 2-3 pictures that they look at and feel pretty in (I've never had to do this with a guy but if I did, I would change my wording a little bit of course). It can be a selfie or a professional photo. Quality doesn't matter. All that matters is that I, the photographer, see what YOU see.
When you examine photos that you like of yourself, it's a shortcut path into what works. There's typically a common thread in the photos. It may be that you like being captured from a certain angle. You may feel that your smile looks best when you're laughing. You may feel like certain colors work best with your skin. Everyone is different and that is totally ok. Compiling a list of these photos before your shoot will help you to know what you like and don't like to see in photos of yourself.
2. G E T O N P I N T E R E S T
Pinterest is your best friend when it comes to any session. If you don't have an account, sign up today (pinterest.com)! There's so many ideas on there to get inspired by. Make yourself a board of different ideas you like. The most helpful one to make will be a board of different poses and expressions that you like and feel best represent you. My favorite search topic in Pinterest is "Lifestyle Photography." Give a try and see what you find!
3. P A C K E S S E N T I A L S
Depending on where you live or when/where you're doing your session, this can change. Here in South Texas, perfect weather days are a rarity. In one week, we can have bright, sunny weather and the next hour, it can be rainy so I've learned to have people prepare for all kinds of circumstances. Here's some si
Bright, sunny days: Bring a pair of sunglasses. You won't wear them for every shot but they make for a cool accessory that's relevant to the lighting circumstance.
Humid days: I can't preach this enough, bring hair spray. Nothing is worse than hair gone flat.
Windy days: Straight hair and windy weather do not go well hand in hand, unless of course you're intentionally going for the wild, wind blown hair look. In that case, carry on but for most cases, wearing the hair curled is ideal for this circumstance. Which means bringing the curler and having a charging adapter for the car will be a life saver.
Cold days: Sounds pretty common sense but I would plan on bringing a blanket. Whenever I'm shooting in the few actual cold days we get here, I make sure to have everyone take breaks to warm up and cozy up in between shooting.
I hope you found this to be helpful. I want nothing more than for your true self to be captured uninhibitedly because who you are is precious and invaluable. Have fun my friends!