Hi all! Welcome back!

This week I'm breaking down my process of what it's like to shoot a portrait session with me. There's only so much detail I can give on my direct website, it's definitely designed and encouraged to keep short and sweet. But that's not what this blog is about! I'm going to get chatty. And I think that's important! I want to go through all the details, situations, and everything you encounter when working with me as a client. Plus, you'll get to understand the background of my process as a photographer.

Once your inquiry is submitted and we've fleshed out a date and time to book your session, you receive a contract to sign and an invoice to pay your deposit of 50% of your total (I do payment plans too but you have to tell me if that's what you need!). Your session is considered officially booked when your signed contract is submitted and your deposit is paid. There are two big things I will typically send to my clients - one of them is a map of locations and the other is a questionnaire. The map of locations lets you decide the setting of your location - my custom map of locations are categorized by the different types of settings so you can browse through them based on what you like. (I'm currently in the process of developing a gallery to view of all the locations I've shot at.) If you know at the time of booking that you want to shoot in a studio, that's also something I advise including in your inquiry because I can automatically add on a studio fee for you and either pick a studio for you based on your inspo photos or I can send you a shortlist of studios. The questionnaire is where you'll submit all your information to provide me with - your choice of location, outfits, any props you'll want to be using, etc. If you're booking over a month in advance, I try not to send the questionnaire until a month before your session, so don't panic if you don't get one right away. In every questionnaire, I also ask for you to select a date and time for us to set up a pre-session call to confirm your details and also give you an opportunity to ask me any questions you may have!

Light Box Studios - Dallas, TX

Vantage Street Studio - Dallas, TX

The Lumen Room: Dallas White - Dallas, TX

The Glossary - Richardson, TX

So let's set the scene and I want you to picture it in your head if you can:

  • You've picked your ideal setting and it has the color palette that works for you. Whether that's a bright and airy studio with some simple textures like some wainscotting or brick, a signature color backdrop with a statement chair or stool, or even a park with lush greens and sprinkled with florals. Your background will determine the colors that show up.
  • You've chosen the outfit(s) that represent you in the best way. You should be comfortable in what you're wearing both physically and mentally, the outfit showcases how you are presenting yourself for the purpose of your session. (We're gonna go into details about dressing for your session in the next post so stay tuned!)
  • You've epicked out simple things to help you create dimension and/or movement in your photos. This shows up in many ways like your accessories or tools to help you present yourself. It can be as simple as books, a laptop, a camera, some art supplies, a to-go coffee cup, or anything else you can think of. Remember the purpose of your session, your tools should be relevant to what these photos are conveying.
  • You've had a short and sweet chat with me over the phone and we've gone over the different spots or setups in order to create a plan for the amount of time that we have. We went through your Pinterest board of inspiration photos to get a feel for what we are going for. I've told you what the parking situation will be at the location and where we will meet up. You've asked all your questions you had for me, and we are prepared for the day of.

Since I shoot on weekends, I really mainly only have the weekdays after getting home from my day job to go through and prepare for your session. I usually start the first day of prep by charging as many batteries as possible and clearing out all my SD cards. My current setup is the Canon R5 and for portraits I love my tried and true Sigma 35mm 1.4 lens to get the job done. I will typically bring two Canon EF to RF adapters just in case, and I've recently started packing my Canon 85mm 1.2 lens to try and use it more. For film, I've packed my recently acquired Canon EOS 1-V and paired it with a my basic Canon 50mm 1.8 lens. I've packed two rolls of film just in case and I'm in the process of experimenting with different film stocks to see what I love best paired with my digital work. On my second day of prep is when I assemble my kit for my sessions. I pack my chosen setup and pre-load a battery and my SD card into the camera. I also pack my backup body of the Canon R6 and load it with a full battery and empty SD cards just in case. I like to recycle my film canisters so I have one labeled BLANK for all my spare empty SD cards, and I bring 2 extra batteries, again, just in case. I bring a portable charger and iPhone cable for my phone. I also pack my Sony a5000 camera with a Sony 16mm 2.8 lens because I use it to film for my YouTube channel and behind the scenes footage makes for great content. I bring a small tripod for my vlog camera as well as my hot shoe phone mount for my camera. Lastly, I pack my emergency kit (filled with everything you could possibly think of). Now I'm as prepared for the session as you.

Prather Park - Dallas, TX

Mandalay Canal Walk - Irving, TX

Arts District - Dallas, TX

Lemon Drop Studios - McKinney, TX

When I meet up with a client at a session, it can always feel awkward, probably because I'm a stranger to you. Which is why diversifying my content as a business owner is important to me, I want to feel like less of a stranger, so maybe reading the words I write, or watching the videos I make will paint you a better picture of who I am compared to a static post on Instagram or 60 second TikTok. The first 2 minutes of a session help me determine how I need to pace my session and cater to my clients. There have been times where clients have shown up and instantly know their sides and their faces, which makes it really easy to work through a session and it goes by fast. But most of the time, I get a lot of people who say this is their first photoshoot or that they're awkward at posing and don't really know how to behave in front of the camera. This is where props will always help you - they help to put you in your natural environment or pose and I can photograph you without it feeling forced. In the event where there aren't props to help us, movement is always where I'll shift to.

So the next 5-10 minutes is a warm-up to get you to loosen up and relax a little bit. I try to ask lots of questions to get to know you, I share a little bit about myself, and then I give you prompts to literally move your body and physically warm up to me. These prompts usually involve either maybe moving in place like taking two steps forward and two steps back or holding your elbows and moving side to side, or it can involve taking some strides like walking across your setting or walking towards me in a drunk walk. My biggest piece of advice when shooting a session that feels awkward - laugh through it. Don't take yourself so seriously, if it feels scary to look directly at the camera, then look off to the sides, look at the view, walk away from me. By the time we are 15 minutes into your session, we'll have connected on something and we'll be having fun. Which gives us the remaining time to get fun and creative, we might do more sitting poses and switching up the positions of the legs like sitting with one leg up to placing them flat on the ground in almost a Z formation. We may try some laying down and we might even try some editorial style poses that will feel completely out of your comfort zone. My job is to capture everything and then go through and pick which photos tell the best story based on the vision you gave me initially.

Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve - Plano, TX

Highland Park Town Offices - Highland Park, TX

Grapevine Botanical Garden at Heritage Park - Grapevine, TX

Frida Mural in Deep Ellum - Dallas, TX

Congratulations! The hard part is over and you've completed shooting your session! All there's left to do for you is to sit back and wait, while for me this is where the work really begins. My process after getting back from a session usually involves making sure I have a Diet Coke nearby because the next steps are long. I take my cards and make sure everything is backed up onto my hard drive - I use a LaCie 4TB hard drive (most photographers have two hard drives, one just to back up and one to work off of - I unfortunately only have one BUT I am working on getting on the 2 drives process). I first set up a folder in my hard drive, which is categorized by session types. Within each session type, there are folders with dates of sessions labeled with client names - this lets me see how to work priority based on date since I like working down a list and not jumping back and forth or searching through names. In each client folder there are several folders set up for different purposes, all the initial files are copied over into the Originals. Once I've got them all backup in there, I manually cull through the photos to first round pick all the ones I like. I usually cull the total number down to twice the number of photos I intend to deliver. For example, my mini packages guarantee at least 35 fully edited images in your gallery, which means I cull the original images down to 70. The culled photos are in their own subfolder labeled Culled. That's the end of the first day of post-shoot process.

The second day of my post-shoot process is when the photos in my Culled folder get imported into Lightroom Classic. This is where I sit and select about 7-12 photos, based on your session package, and select which gives a variety of the shoot in order to give you a preview. I go through and edit the selected photos using my presets, and tweak the photos as necessary. The photos are then uploaded to your online gallery and you should receive an email notifying you they are ready. The sneak peeks are a time for you to see what the final images might look like, and also for you to provide feedback if you feel like your skin tones aren't showing up correctly, if you have a pimple that needs removing, or a bruise that you forgot about. I do not remove permanent beauty marks or make any adjustments that alter your authentic representation. In my book, no news is good news, so essentially if I don't receive any feedback, I will assume that you approve of the editing in the sneak peeks and will proceed to edit the remaining photos the same way, I might tweak slightly in order to make them all more cohesive.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Flippen Park - Highland Park, TX

Rockledge Park - Grapevine, TX

Dallas Museum of Art - Dallas, TX

I always have to take breaks between editing a gallery to make sure I'm always looking at it with fresh eyes because it helps me see new things, to look at everything in a more detailed manner. I'll comb through galleries around 3-4 times before even deciding to export the gallery. When all the photos are edited, I try to narrow them down so that I'm not over-delivering photos and that all the photos you get provide a variety that still represents your vision. Once I'm satisfied with the final products, I export them out of my Lightroom catalog and upload them to your gallery, and that's it! You'll receive a gallery full of your final edited photos and you can do anything with them! All my galleries come with the ability for you to print anything you need through a trusted lab that makes sure your photos come out true to color as you see in the digitals. You can order prints in small or large sized, cards for holidays or announcements, and everything in between!

I hope this step-by-step breakdown of what shooting a portrait session with me is. The goal is to provide insight and transparency as to what shooting a session with me is like from the moment you book until the gallery is done. Sometimes the process might alter depending on how much detail I'm given before I even send a questionnaire or like for mini sessions, the questionnaire is shorter and customized to the mini session type. Overall, I try to keep it the same! Check back next week because I'm going to go over my biggest pieces of advice for styling yourself for your session!