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How to Prepare for Your Photo Session

well dressed couple hugging during this engagement session

6 tips that go beyond what to wear

What should we wear for our photo session? This is one of the most frequent questions that I receive after I book a photo session – whether it’s an engagement session or couples session, etc. And rightly so. What we choose to wear for our photos plays a huge part in setting the overall tone and aesthetic for the finished results.

I always have my go-to advice on what to wear ready to send along and I’m always happy to provide lots of specific ideas to my clients. I have a curated Pinterest board ready to share and will even open the door to my clients to send me pictures of outfits they are thinking about. I’ve been here before, myself—trying to choose an outfit that will be immortalized in photos and I always love getting feedback on my choices. 

What is never asked is how to prepare for your photo session beyond what to wear. And personally, I think how you prepare for your photo session may be even more important than what you wear.

couple walking in a filed during their engagement session

photographs are an investment

You are investing a lot of money into your photography. Between the photo session itself, the clothes you wear, and the prints and albums you purchase, a photography session with a professional photographer is an investment and should be approached as such.

Making sure you prepare for it from all angles will mean you receive the most out of your investment.  

Not to mention, your photographs will be your family’s heirlooms—part of your legacy passed down to future generations. A photo session should never be just another thing you cross off your (spring, summer, fall) to-do list. You want the overall experience to be as beautiful and memorable as the photos themselves.

how to prepare for your photo session

After more than ten years as a professional photographer, here are just a few of my best tips for how to prepare for a photo session. These tips are applicable to family photos, couples portraits, individuals, branding sessions, and even family photos during a wedding… basically, if human beings will be the subject of the photo, then these tips will apply.

mindset—you need to do more than just show up

Your mindset is by far the most important you need to prepare in advance of a photo session. Your photographer wants more than anything for you to have a great experience in front of their camera and to love the photos we make for you. But if you are not on board and come to the session with a negative mindset and closed-off energy, you are setting us and yourself up for failure. Your photographer is not a magician, nor does she or he wants to spend the entire session making it fun for someone that is miserable.

If you are doing these photos for someone else (ie: your parent or your partner) that is totally understandable. And it's actually a really beautiful thing that you would put yourself into a vulnerable situation like being photographed to make your loved one happy. Showing up, however, means more than being physically present.

Prepare your mindset. Talk with your loved ones about the session and how you can make it fun for each other and bring this positive energy with you. If your photographer is like me, they play off your energy and will be inspired by it.

plan ahead and make a day of it

Being well-rested and relaxed is key to having a great photography experience and receiving photos that you will love. 

Take the day or at least the afternoon off work and set aside all other commitments. If you have to rush from an activity or work into your photo session you will feel ill-prepared, stressed, and anxious. And, you will bring all of this negative energy into your photo session.

Give yourselves an easy, carefree day so that you come to the session with good energy. I cannot stress this enough.

Also, don’t plan anything for after your session. It’s important to be very present during your photo session. If you have things planned immediately after your session your mind may fall elsewhere. 

Make sure your outfits are clean, ironed, and ready to wear at least three days beforehand. This will be a great help too. This way if you discover a stain or missing button in something you planned to wear you have time to remedy the situation.

avoid the sun

In the week leading up to your photo session, limit exposure to the sun or at least make sure you (and your partner) are using sunscreen on all exposed areas including your face. Sunburns and tan lines are crazy difficult and time-consuming to edit out and will be an added cost to you if you want them removed from your photos. 

Men's hands embracing each other during engagement sessions

get a manicure

Always make sure your hands are moisturized and your nails are clean. Your hands will be visible in photographs. If you don't groom your hands you will be trying to hide them, distracting your from being present and even limiting the scope of photos that you will love.

This is the same guidance for toes! If you plan to wear open-toed shoes you want to make sure your feet and nails are clean. A photo session is a great reason to treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure!

show and tell

Talk openly and honestly about your upcoming photo session with your partner and your children, and anyone else that will be in the photos.

Talk about why you think having professional photos is important and what they mean to you. Show your partner and family your photographer’s work. If you are friends with them on Facebook or follow their other social media accounts look through them together and “get to know” your photographer a bit. 

Talk about what you are nervous about and ask your partner and children to share about their nerves. Talk openly about how you can make this a positive experience for each other. Share your concerns and ideas with your photographer, and show your photographer some photographs from their portfolio that your family really loved.

Communication all around is so important.

hydration and fuel

Make sure you drink plenty of water, eat enough throughout the day and avoid sugar (especially important for kids—save the treats for during and after school the photo session) leading up to your photo session. Hangry never photographs well and the last thing anyone wants is to have to rush through your session because someone is hungry.

Lastly, and I am repeating myself with this one but it’s because I cannot stress it enough, REST before your photo session. Get a good night’s sleep, take it easy during the day and avoid rushing.

Couple standing close together laughing and sticking tongue out during photo session

talk to your photographer about it

This is not an exhaustive list but rather a few of my best tips for preparing for a photo session beyond what to wear. Every photographer will have their own tips too so make sure you chat openly with your photographer.

My ultimate goal with this post is to show you that you get out of your photo session what you put into it. Your photographer controls a lot of what happens during the session – the compositions, exposure, and bringing out your love and personality. But what you do in advance of your session to prepare is out of your photographer’s control and cannot be fixed in photoshop.

Share this post with anyone you know that might need these tips.

Lastly, if you are looking for a photographer to work with then I would love to hear from you. Use my contact form here.

You’ve been much much more than a photographer; you’ve been a guide, a source of support, an expert, and a friend.


You are so talented and we are so lucky that we were able to work with you. Thank you for making the experience so special for us.

Your advice, tips and guidance along the way have meant a lot and were so appreciated especially as we navigated uncharted territories (professional photos lol). We always knew we were in the best hands with you.



New Brunswick Wedding Photographer

St. Andrews Wedding Photography

New Brunswick Photography Studio

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St. Andrews Wedding Photography

New Brunswick Photography Studio

St. Andrews Wedding Photography

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