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!

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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.

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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!

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So let me give you an example of this process in action:

  1. A couple comes to me requesting an engagement session.
  2. 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.
  3. I email them a questionnaire.
  4. Their questionnaire tells me that their favorite movie is Singing in the Rain and that when the fiancé proposed it started pouring down rain.
  5. From this, the theme prevalent is rain.
  6. I research Singing in the Rain, kisses in the rain, weather facts, songs about rain, and anything else that comes to mind.
  7. I pick props such as umbrellas, raincoats, their musical instruments, and a hose for “making it rain”
  8. I choose an outdoor, downtown street location (to reference the famous Singing in the Rain scene)
  9. I shoot the session!

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Whatever type of session you’re planning, get to know your subjects and make it special to them!