How I Prepare to Have My Photo Taken


February 9, 2017

One thing that surprises a lot of people about me is that I actually hate having my photo taken. It’s not that I don’t love photos and that I don’t understand how important it is to have them taken….it’s that I feel so awkward and weird in front of the camera! I can also be somewhat self conscious about how I look in photos, so this can make me extra self conscious when it comes to being photographed!

For my clients, I work really hard to create an experience that feels more casual than the stiff, traditional portraits of the past and I spend time giving direction rather than posing. In my experience (both as a photographer and as a client) this actually does help a ton. There’s nothing worse than showing up to have your photos taken and not knowing what to do with your hands…or your face! Do you smile or not??

For myself, on occasions when I’m going to have my photo taken, I do a few things to make sure that I look and feel my best before the shoot. I’ve learned after several experiences in front of the camera that the extra bit of preparation DOES make a difference in both how I feel during the shoot itself and how the final product turns out! Since photos are such a big investment and they are something that will be around for a bit, I think it really does make sense to put in a bit of prep work to make sure that they turn out their best!

Here are some ideas of a few things I normally do before having photos taken that you can do to prepare for your turn in front of the camera!

Photo by Ashley Goodwin

2-3 weeks before the shoot:

I get my hair cut and colored (but not RIGHT before the shoot)
The key here is to get your hair cut and colored a couple of weeks before your photos so that you’re looking fresh but the color and cut have had a chance to grow/settle in a little bit!

I buy a flattering outfit that makes me feel good, is appropriate for the setting and vibe of the shoot
Like I mentioned before, I think a photo shoot is a really good excuse to splurge a little bit. If you’re looking for a reason to buy a new outfit, a portrait session is a great one! You’ll be looking at your photos for years to come and you want to be able to look back and not be distracted by the fact that you hate what you wore or that it wasn’t necessarily as flattering as it could have been. I take the weeks before a session to brainstorm and shop for outfits that not only flatter my shape but also complement the nature of the shoot. For example, when I went to Hawaii, I searched for a maxi dress (which I found at and a bikini because I wanted something that felt at home in a tropical environment. Both items were a tiny bit of a splurge, but they’re upgraded versions of items I would typically wear and I’ve gotten tons of use out of them since the shoot!

The week of the shoot:

I schedule a hair appointment
This is separate from the hair cut/color list item because I think having your hair professionally styled before your shoot is a great idea! No matter how good I get with my curling iron, I can never quite get on the level of my hair stylist’s blowout. Although you might not want a super formal hairstyle, there are lots of blow-dry bars popping up everywhere! Your regular salon might offer this service as well. For my promo with Josh Gooden, I actually hired a hair stylist to come and do my hair at my apartment before shooting began and it was worth every penny! I look like a more polished version of myself in the film!

I go for a manicure (and a pedicure if my feet will be seen)
Little details like this really do matter and I always feel like any excuse for a little bit of pampering is a good one! Don’t be afraid to go bold with your color choices! I love a neutral manicure, but bright red nails are also always a winner.

I cut back on salt
If you’re a lady and you’re reading this, you probably know where this is going. There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling bloated the day of a photo shoot! Cutting back on salt in the few days before will help ensure that you’re not retaining any extra water leading up to the session and in turn, help you feel less bloated and uncomfortable.

I stay hydrated
Cutting salt and staying hydrated go hand in hand when it comes to combatting bloat, but drinking lots of water will also help ensure your skin is clearer and you look more radiant!

I avoid alcohol
For the exact reasons listed above…i.e. bloating, skin, etc. I love a good cocktail, but I don’t play around when it comes to photos I’m going to be looking at for years to come!

The day of the shoot:

I get in a workout that morning
Maybe this is a sign I’m becoming slightly fitness obsessed, but I like to exercise the morning I’m having my photo taken, not only because it gets the blood flowing, but because working certain parts of your body will cause the muscles to pump up a bit and look more defined. I usually choose to incorporate some type of upper body movements into this pre-shoot workout. I actually did a bunch of pull ups before a launch party I had a couple of years ago because I had a strapless cocktail dress to wear and wanted my back to look extra good!

I keep my schedule pretty clear
The day of your shoot is not the day to schedule all of your errands! I have shown up to a shoot super frazzled before after running all over town and it’s just not the best experience. I try to keep things pretty low-key and stress-free if possible so that I have plenty of time to get ready and prepare myself so when I arrive, I can focus on enjoying the shoot. This means getting organized ahead of time…have your outfits, extra hair and makeup supplies, etc all packed and ready to go the day of the shoot.

I leave home with plenty of cushion time
Remember what I said earlier about not wanting to feel frazzled? The biggest thing that frazzles me is TRAFFIC!! Being on time for a portrait session is incredibly important because sunlight only lasts for so long and I know that the photographer has timed out the timing of the shoot for a reason…that beautiful light! If I’m late I’ll not only arrive feeling super stressed and possibly have to rush to get through all of the shots we need, I will also potentially end up with fewer photos because we lost time with the light! Giving yourself a buffer is everything!

I plan something fun for right afterward.
Okay, I don’t always do this, but…I SHOULD. Since you’re already all dolled up right after a shoot, I think it’s fun to go out for dinner and drinks or something else!

(I like to suggest that my couples use the time right after their engagement or anniversary session to have a nice date night!!)

Photos are an investment, so I think it’s important to do a little bit of prep work beforehand to ensure that you get the most out of your session! Every time I’ve put in a little work before my photos, I’ve been so happy with how they turned out! I hope this helps give you an idea of some things you can do to prepare for your photos!!

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