More than anything else, people ask me about how to prepare for their session. This is a LOADED question since there are SO many things you need to do in order to achieve quality photos that have that amazing “WOW” factor. I want my clients feel confident and make the most of their time with me, so I felt the need to make a page dedicated solely to this topic to help you guys out!

Your photographer can only do so much. At the end of the day, YOU are in control of your photos. If you apply these 10 helpful tips when preparing for your session, we will be able to create the fabulous, swoon-worthy photos that you have always dreamed of!

Here we go:

1. Choose great locations.

You’ve heard the saying before! “LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!” I’m here to tell you, whoever came up with that saying hit the nail on the head! Location is extremely important during your session.

As I’ve said before, I do not like staleness. I hate recycling locations, props, etc. That is not my style! My clients are unique and deserve unique photos! In order to achieve this goal, a wonderful location must be used.

My ultimate goal in my work is to capture you being YOU! For this reason, I do not choose session locations. My clients do. So, scout out places for us after you book! Find somewhere you love. Find somewhere where you are comfortable. Find somewhere that you think is cool. If possible, find somewhere that reflects you in a way!

When choosing locations, remember that places with equal amounts of shade and sunlight provide the best opportunities for photos! Also, diverse locations are perfect! These types of locations (such as my fave, Avery Island ;)) offer many different types of back drops for photos, giving you a better variety of shots.

Also, remember that you are allowed to choose as many locations as you would like! It is best that these locations are in somewhat of a close proximity. This way, we will benefit from the change of location while still having PLENTY of time to shoot!

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2. Bring props with you.

I’ve had clients use balloons, chalkboards, suitcases, balloons, books, couches and MANY other props during their sessions. ALL of these photos were extra amazing, unique, and memorable, due in part to the use of props! When preparing for your session, bring along anything that you may want to use! Something that is cool and vintage. Something that is bright and funky. Something that is personal to you. Something that you think is cool. ANYTHING! A session is ALWAYS better when the client brings along props for us to play around with!

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Think about bringing the things mentioned above or even one of these:

3. Dress in outfits that make sense.

(Disclaimer: The photos without a Photography by Hailey watermark that were used for this section do not belong to Photography by Hailey. They are being used for the purpose of demonstrating what – and what NOT – to wear.)

What you wear is SO important! You need to be comfortable while also looking your best! Someone can have the most extravagant, wonderful location, props, etc. and the photos will still only be sub-par is the outfit isn’t just right! When dressing yourself, I want you to still be you. However, I want you to be the BEST version of you. Be stylish. Let loose! Show off the bold side of your personality. Prepare!

There are a few vital things to remember when choosing outfits for your photo shoot. For one, choose something with a little more “oomph” than you normally would. AKA- put together an outfit that your celebrity alter-ego would wear. Pick cool textures (i.e. sequins). Layer fabrics. (Try a cool sweater over a different shirt) Involve color. (Stay away from boring, dull colors like plain white t-shirts and black button-up tops!) ACCESSORIZE! (Jewelry, headbands, whatever! Pile it on!)

I also suggest that you bring multiple, varying outfits. You want a variety!

Bring a chic/ formal outfit that we can get creative with:

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A fun/ casual outfit:

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A sassy outfit:

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A themed outfit:

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One last thing- If this session involves most than a single person, be sure to coordinate your outfits to the correct extent. You want to match without being cheesey! Please- no EXACT matching. Or else, you’ll look like this:

That was fine in the 90s maybe, but now, stylish photos involve a fun, cool-looking vibe. For this, coordinating, rather than matching, is key! Pick a color scheme for everyone to use without being too matchy-matchy. For example, if dad is wearing a red, orange, and yellow plaid shirt, no one else needs to wear plaid! Instead, try this: Mom can wear a yellow dress with a sassy red scarf and heels, baby girl can wear an orange dress with a red jacket, etc. (PS- as you can see in this scenario, not every person has to wear EVERY color.)

Also on this topic, involve at least 3 colors. No boring white and kakki/ jean.



4. Bold, Elaborate, (& Maybe Professional?) Hair & Make-up

What makes the difference between a cute photo and a real, STUNNING piece of art? Proper hair and make up. Like stated before, I want you to be the BEST possible version of yourself. I want you to feel like a glam model through-out your session. I want you to have the most wonderful finished product.

Have you ever seen a photo that looks so professional and beautiful and magazine worthy of someone and asked yourself “How did they do that?” The answer: makeup.

These photos are documenting a specific moment in life. They are a luxury. You don’t get to do this every day. SO, go all out! Make your photos the BEST they can be! Make the entire experience a professional one! Get your hair and makeup done at a salon! For one, it will save you time. It will take a pro a lot less time to apply heavy make up than it will take you. It will also ensure the best results. Pros know how to apply make up for the camera. They know highlighting and contouring tricks that help accent your best features on film. They know how to make you look BAM!  Just bite the bullet and do it. 😉

If you REALLY aren’t too fond of this idea, then do your hair yourself. You ARE use to doing your hair & if you are okay with using your usual style for your session, it should be fine. However, you STILL should get your make-up done by a pro. As mentioned before, unlike hair, make-up looks MUCH different on camera. It is important to have on heavy make-up without looking clown-like. Chances are you will not be able to achieve the perfect balance of weight and freshness that someone who does it for a living will. 😉

If this options are too expensive for you, perhaps you have a friend that knows her way around a bronzing brush and a curling iron? Just a thought. 🙂

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5. Find inspiration.

Planning the session is up to you! To get magnificent results, you must prepare. Think things through. Let your creative juices flow! Use inspiration!

In the wonderful, technologically-advanced world of today, we have so many ways to become inspired and gain new ideas. (Pinterest, Facebook pros, Twitter followers, photography websites, e-magazines, etc.)

The key of this is to IDEAS without copying! Whether than finding a picture, handing it to me, and saying “Do this,” build off of the ideas of others. Find a concept you like a use it to develop a theme of your own. 🙂


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6. Incorporate your life.

I think that this key idea flows into all of the sections that have been mentioned prior to this. Incorperate your life, what you love, your hobbies, fun memories, your job, ANYTHING! To do this, use where you go, what you bring, what you wear, etc.

If you are a couple, try acting out your favorite things to do together. Or, re-create your first date.

If you are a family, let’s go to your home. Or your favorite mini-vaca spot. Or the place where your 4 kids play soccer. Dress to play the role and bring props that make sense.

Photo shoots are a fun mix of true personality and dreamy imagination. Come up with fun, out-of-the-ordinary ideas while including REAL attributes that fit you. This will create the perfect situation.

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7. Remember that timing is key.

It is so important to be on time for your session. For one, it’s the respectful, sweet thing to do. Secondly, it directly effects the way that your photos turn out.

Your session will be allotted a specific amount of time. If you show up late, you waste some of that time, leaving us with less opportunities for fun photos.

Also, sessions are planned for certain times because of the lighting. Capturing the CORRECT kind of light (which is only achievable during a couple of time slots through-out the day) is what makes a photo have a certain look. If you arrive late, you may miss out on great lighting. Even if you are only 10 minutes behind, it could still have negative effects. At times, light is fleeting. Specific golden, airy, beautiful characteristics of light only happen for minutes a day. You don’t want to miss that, guys! 🙂 BE ON TIME!

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8. Learn about posing.

No matter what, you will feel a little shy and nervous at the beginning of your session. It’s perfectly normal! I promise, you will warm up in no time. 🙂 But, I know for a fact that the more prepared you are, the more relaxed you will be and the more fun you will have. 🙂 A good way to have control over your session is to learn about posing.

When you are at the session, there will be many times that you are “posed” by me. I will constantly be giving you direction. BUT, I also don’t want the session to be too stiff! For this reason, there will be times where I’ll let you just walk around and be in the moment. This is especially true if the session involves a family or a couple. To avoid boring shots, I will throw out ideas and let you guys make it your own. This way, the experience is fun and I will be able to capture something that looks REAL. The chemistry will flow naturally and the product will be beautiful!

While learning about posing, it may also be a good idea to practice a few techniques and/or ideas that you like.

Yes, I am the professional. I want and need you to trust me with many aspects of my art, including posing. HOWEVER, as always, I want YOUR input! It is always EXTRA fun if you have a few ideas of your own so that when the moment feels right, you can strike a pose of your own, without direction from me. 🙂

(Also be sure to keep an open line of communication with me. If at any time during the session you need more guidance or feel uncomfortable with a pose, tell me. We’ll work it out. :))

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9. Show your personality.

Again, these are your pictures. To make your photos super beautiful, magazine-worthy, and personalized, let loose during the session. Laugh. Visit with me. Do your version of a sassy catwalk. Mock Taylor Swift. Sing and dance around. Do cartwheels. Whatever you normally do with your friends or family, do it in front of the camera.

This is ESPECIALLY true for sessions that involve more than one person. Why? Because I want to capture real life. I want to watch the chemistry bloom and allow you guys to show your love so much that is beams through the photograph. When the moment feels right, kiss without me instructing you too. Goof off. Crack jokes. Flirt with one another.

In order for me to capture your personality on camera (aka- what makes a photo great), you have to let your personality shine. If you’re shy or nervous, push those feelings to the side. Let loose and enjoy yourself! If you do that, this experience really will be fun and the photos will be amazeballs! 🙂

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10. Take a risk.

The most amazing shots are those that are not traditional. Be prepared to think outside of the box.

Be open and ready for unique poses, ideas, locations, etc.

You may have to sit on the sidewalk, lay of the ground, climb to the top of the stairs, step into the water, etc. Don’t be afraid to get your dress a little dirty. Be ready to act goofy, silly, or childish. I promise it will be worth it!

The more open and outgoing you are and the more you trust me, the more creative we will be able to get. 🙂


If I was long-winded, repetitive, cheesey, or whatever, I’m sorry! I can literally talk about what I do all. day. long. I just love it that much! I also love my clients and want them to be informed and prepared so that they get the BEST possible service, experience, and products!

I hope that this helps you guys out. 🙂