What to expect from your portrait session

I hear the same things from clients all the time:


“I hate getting my picture taken.”

“What will the portrait shoot be like?”

“Why do you schedule two hours? Does it really take that long?”

“What can I expect?”.

“I’m not really comfortable getting my photo taken” “I’m not photogenic”.


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Most people have little to no experience with photo shoots and getting your photo taken can be intimidating. I love helping my clients navigate their portrait shoot and feel good about themselves. I love to watch the process of a person opening up over the course of the shoot and begin to relax and actually enjoy the process. Often people tell me at the end of a shoot “actually, that was kind of fun!”

Personal portraits’ clients often use our images for multiple purposes: for business, WordPress, as family gifts, and often for online dating. These photos need to go reach beyond good smiles. They need to convey personality; show enthusiasm, quirk, approachability, and  joie de vivre. They need to be fun. Business head shots can take five minutes, but enabling a client to become comfortable in front of the camera takes skill, rapport, and dedication.

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I can help with wardrobe decisions, location choices, and expectations ahead of time. Personal portrait shoots can run up to two hours long. I always shoot this kind of a portrait on location–either in my client’s home or in a park or public location of our choice. Kristina and I went to the Olympic Sculpture Park for her shoot. You can see the wonderful variety of backgrounds and photos we can get just by wandering around a four block square area. Variety is important, both in wardrobe and in framing and expression.
I start by encouraging my clients to move around, to practice modeling, to try not to force a smile and not to be fixated on the camera. The more a person is willing to move let go of their natural awkwardness the more I will have to work with. Freezing in place and trying desperately to smile is not an option with me.

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I love candids as much as smiles. The goal my shoots is always to capture the best and most natural and engaging pieces of the person I’m photographing, and to give my client photos that they love and will be able to use for more than they imagined.