Most people don’t look forward to being photographed – but here’s how you can get past those feelings & LOVE your photos + the session too!
Krystle & Michael’s story
Krystle and Michael have been married for three years, and they have a sweet girl due in March 2023. She’s in the medical field and he’s in nonprofit IT. They’re both over the moon to have baby on the way, and ready to begin the adventure of parenthood.
While Michael is very comfortable in front of the camera, and has even been in a few commercials for a previous job, Krystle hasn’t always enjoyed being photographed. In fact, Michael actually reached out to me on her behalf to plan maternity photos.
“She is very shy when it comes to photos, but she wants to do something for memories,” he said. “This is our first child and I want to make her feel comfortable and confident because she deserves it.”
The concerns and slight hesitations they shared are very common. I hear from the vast majority of couples that at least one of them really doesn’t like being in front of the camera, or feel like they are not photogenic.
The truth is, most people feel uncomfortable in front of the camera because they don’t get the direction they need from their photographer. If you don’t know what to do with your hands, where to look or when to smile, of course you’re going to feel awkward. It’s not helpful for a photographer to tell you to “act natural” with zero other direction during a session because there’s nothing natural about being photographed for most of us!
In fact, your photographer should start helping prepare for your photo session right after you officially book with them. So much goes into beautiful photos – and a wonderful experience during the session itself. By the time my clients arrive for photos, they know exactly what to expect from start to finish, as well as when to expect a sneak peek and their fully-edited photo gallery.
The high-touch process I use to prepare mamas, couples and families for stunning, relaxed photos guarantees you’ll love your images – and the session too!
Creating a smooth, stress-free experience
When designing the photography experiences I offer to clients, the very first thing I did was think about what I’ve disliked about my own past photo sessions.
Basically, it came down to two things: not enough education beforehand and not enough direction during the photos.
Common stresses for clients – #1: Wardrobe
This is almost always the top concern and problem area for the mamas, couples and families I’ve worked with over 10 years. Picking out clothing for photos can be such a headache.
Before I was a photographer, I didn’t really know what outfits, colors and fabrics photograph best. It was hit or miss picking out a cohesive wardrobe for everyone in my family. I always found myself done putting outfits together for my husband and kids, and then stressing to find something for myself that matched what I had bought for everyone else.
Some photographers sent me a link to their Pinterest boards for outfit inspiration, but I didn’t understand why they suggested those options. Was it just the colors go well together? Was it the specific fit of the items, or the fabrics? How do I incorporate patterns? What if I want to put everyone in perfectly matching colors? I didn’t understand why I had to think of all the questions to ask – why didn’t my photographers just tell me these things?
Common stresses for clients – #2: Working with kids
On the day of the session, the photographers I worked with sometimes knew our names; other times, they were asking me right before we started who each of my children are.
Often, they seemed to depend on me and my husband to get smiles from our children, which felt very stressful. It was hard to get the kids laughing and smiling in a natural way, plus remember where we were supposed to be looking, and try to make sure all of our faces were visible to the camera.
Sometimes our photographers seemed visibly thrown off when my young children didn’t cooperate right away. I always left sessions thinking the kids’ behavior wasn’t the best, and there was no way we got any good photos. We’d get in the car and I’d feel discouraged and frustrated – but mostly I was just thankful the stressful session was finally over.
Maternity, newborn and family photo sessions don’t have to feel awkward and frustrating
You should expect your photographer to help you prepare for the session by doing things like sharing wardrobe guidelines and a detailed explanation of what to expect while you work together. It doesn’t matter if you’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime event like your wedding or simply a fall family photo session – these photos are important to you, which means giving you a great experience and pretty photos should be a top priority for your photographer.
Would you hire a contractor to work on your home without a detailed outline of what he’ll do and what to expect when the job is finished? Have you ever sat in a hair stylist’s chair where they immediately started coloring or cutting your hair without getting any input from you on what you want? As service providers, photographers should actually serve their clients by helping them get the very best images – and a great experience too!
Simply put, if you sign the contract and submit payment, and you never hear from your photographer again until a few days before the session to confirm time and location, your photographer didn’t do their job very well.
How I help clients prepare before photo sessions: a step-by-step peek at the process
Step 1: When I get an inquiry from a potential client, I send a PDF via email or text with tons of session information, including what to expect, pricing, when to schedule and what makes me different from others in the area.
Step 2: I offer to set up a call to go over the sessions in detail and answer questions with couples who are thinking about working with me. We discuss things like dates, wardrobe and location options at this time. There’s zero pressure to book on the call.
Step 3: When a client is ready to book, I send an email with a contract, invoice, studio policies and a pre-session questionnaire. The contract gives a very in-depth explanation of what to expect as we work together. My studio policies outline “nice-to-know” things, such as my office hours, communication guidelines, general times I schedule maternity and newborn sessions, how my client closet works, and more. The pre-session questionnaire is full of questions that help me personalize the session to your family, including if you prefer more color or black & white images, any pet peeves you have about photography in general, and any must-have photos or poses that are important to you.
All of these items can be easily reviewed, signed and submitted online.
Step 4: When I get all of your documents and payment, I send a confirmation email with a tailored timeline of what to expect, along with a video that explains what the upcoming days/weeks/months will be like as we work together. This is the step that so many photographers skip! I want you to know when I’ve received all of your signed/completed docs and payment!
Clients get instant access to my client-only portal, which includes links to the digital version of my session guide magazine, a link to contract the hair & makeup team I recommend, a link to my client closet and location options, and lots more helpful information.
I also send a hard copy of Celebrate Motherhood magazine, the session guide I created to help clients fully prepare for photos.
Step 5: Client education is the heart of why clients love their photos – and the sessions themselves – when they work with me! Most clients receive their hard copy of Celebrate Motherhood magazine with 4-5 days of booking. It’s 76 pages of everything you need to know to prepare for gorgeous photos! You’ll find in-depth advice for what to wear for every member of the family, where to shop for outfits, how I work with kids during maternity, newborn and family sessions, how to plan a rainbow baby session, tips for photo-friendly nursery, when to schedule newborn photos, posing photos + verbal prompts to expect at each session – and LOTS more!
Step 6: Along the way, clients get personalized emails and videos with even more helpful content to help them get ready for photos. For maternity sessions, the video goes over most common wardrobe issues that pregnant mamas might experience and how to avoid them. For newborn sessions, I share tips to prep your home for photos – including the one “problem area” lots of families don’t think about ahead of time and how to make sure this doesn’t happen to you!
Step 7: About a week before maternity sessions, clients get a reminder email of what to bring with them to the session. I also send a reminder text message with time and date details, and a Google Maps link to the location.
Newborn session clients get targeted, personalized email tips in the days leading up to the session with information like what to do in case of baby acne, jaundice or cradle cap; I also provide a comprehensive timeline of the exact session flow – I include everything from how we start in the master bedroom with family photos to wrap up with baby-only portraits.
What actual photo sessions are like
On the day of your photos, I’ll meet you at our agreed-upon location or your home. I’ll explain what to expect during the session and we’ll get started!
In terms of posing, I’ll explain exactly what to do for each series of photos – including specific, clear directions for what to do with your hands, where to look and when to smile! For pregnant mamas, I’ll stand right next to you and demonstrate how to position your hands, arms and legs for the most flattering portraits. After I do this with you a few times, you’ll know exactly what to do and you’ll fall into our posing flow naturally with clear prompting from me.
Newborn sessions are a little more relaxed, and I’ll come prepared with posing guidance for everyone in your family – even wiggly, active toddlers. You’ll understand how to engage naturally with each other – and we can even incorporate pets if you wish!
When we have about 15 minutes left in your session, I’ll ask you to begin thinking about any photos you want to include that we haven’t covered yet. No specific requests? No problem! We’ll use up every second of our time together because I never run out of ideas for photos!
After your session
My clients get next-day video sneak peeks via text the day after sessions, unless we work together on a Friday. In that case, your sneak peek will be ready on Monday. They also get a day-after-session email with a timeline of when to expect the gallery and how and when to schedule any additional upcoming sessions.
All photo galleries are delivered within a week! I send the link to access your photo gallery via text and email. You’re welcome to share the gallery with anyone you wish. Inside the gallery itself, you’ll find a guide that walks you through how to share the photos with loved ones and select your favorite images.
Clients can order additional digital images, prints, wall art and photo albums inside their photo galleries. I personally review and submit every order to the lab so that I know it will look absolutely perfect!
A high-touch experience makes a tremendous difference in how much you love your photos – and your comfort level during the session
My clients don’t just love their photos – they genuinely enjoy the session itself, too! Making sure they have a smooth, stress-free experience starts when they first inquire about working with me – not when they sign the contract, or when we meet up for their photos.
The truth is, I could take the most beautiful photos of a couple – but if they had a miserable time with me, they won’t have good memories of the session, which means they’ll like the images a lot less!
I want you to arrive for your photo session fully confident that your outfits will photograph like a dream.
I want you to know precisely what to expect during the session in terms of session flow, posing and how I’ll work with your children.
I want you to know after the session exactly when you’ll get your sneak peek and the full photo gallery so you’re not wondering about when you’ll hear from me.
Back to Krystle and Michael
Krystle and Michael went through the entire process I’ve outlined here. She received her magazine in the mail, along with personalized emails and videos in her inbox. They arrived at their session in perfectly coordinated outfits that photographed beautifully. She wore a total of three outfits, including one cute matching bra and panty set for semi-nude images – and she even opted for totally nude photos for the last portion of the session!
This mama who has always been shy during photo sessions and struggled to open up in photos was comfortable enough for semi-nude and nude portions of her maternity session! That never would have happened without all the education and prep before the session, and me working to gain her trust as we worked together during her photos.
Krystle sent this text to me a few days after I delivered her gallery:
“Thank you sooo much, I couldn’t imagine doing these (photos) a few months ago and now I’m very thankful and overjoyed you helped us capture these!”
She and her husband adored the images in the photo gallery – and went on to hire me for newborn portraits as well.
Can I help you get gorgeous photos you’ll love?!
This process has worked over and over and over for hundreds of mamas, couples and families over the last 10 years! My goal is to make sure you’re excited about your session and confident in your wardrobe choices before we meet. While we work together, I hope you and your spouse can connect with each other and focus on the happiness to come if you’re expecting, or the joy of parenthood if baby has arrived.
And when you get your gallery, I truly hope you’re amazed at all of the joy, love and excitement you see in your images. If you’re like most mamas I work with, you’ll send me a text saying you just can’t narrow down your favorite images because you love all of them!
All you have to do to get started is send me a little information about you! I’ll be in touch and we’ll chat about your dream maternity and newborn sessions!