As a photographer, I believe that photos should encapsulate who people really are. This is something I strive for in all my photos, especially portrait sessions. To have this happen, a lot of planning is involved!
When a client first comes to me requesting a session, I like to meet with them or have a phone call to initially get to know who they are. From there I send them a questionnaire with about 10 questions on it. This questionnaire is where I really gain knowledge about who I will be photographing. Questions range from stories about them to their favorite movies or music. All this information goes into planning their shoot.
Next, I take their information and look for a common theme or overall feel of who they are. Once that theme is decided on, I start planning props, location, and clothing. I do this by researching everything and anything on the theme. I plan out certain set ups of how I will use the props at the location and how I would pose the couple with the props. Lastly, I buy, craft, or borrow all the props and settle on a location to shoot at!
So let me give you an example of this process in action:
- A couple comes to me requesting an engagement session.
- I meet with the couple for coffee and get to know them a little. I learn that they recently got engaged, are both in the music profession, and love old movies.
- I email them a questionnaire.
- Their questionnaire tells me that their favorite movie is Singing in the Rain and that when the fiancé proposed it started pouring down rain.
- From this, the theme prevalent is rain.
- I research Singing in the Rain, kisses in the rain, weather facts, songs about rain, and anything else that comes to mind.
- I pick props such as umbrellas, raincoats, their musical instruments, and a hose for “making it rain”
- I choose an outdoor, downtown street location (to reference the famous Singing in the Rain scene)
- I shoot the session!
Whatever type of session you’re planning, get to know your subjects and make it special to them!