WHAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW
ABOUT TAKING AMAZING PHOTOS
Most sessions begin two hours before the scheduled sunset during “golden hour,” when the light is the dreamiest. Remember, the sun sets much earlier during the colder months of the year and much later during the warmer months, so make sure to factor that in when choosing your portrait session date, especially if you’re taking off work or have evening plans afterward.
To get the most out of your session, plan a buffer when getting ready so you can arrive a few minutes early to your session and be ready to start on time. We’re only able to shoot when natural light is still in the sky, so we’ll want to take advantage of every minute we have together. If you’re wearing two outfits, save your favorite one for the second half.
The location of your portrait session is up to you! Like you see throughout this guide, most of our clients choose to showcase the natural beauty of our home state. For most of our sessions, outdoor, open-air environments are always our first choice. We love shooting in wide-open natural spaces because the light is divine, especially during golden hour. There are great options all around the state, so even if you’ve never seen us photograph in a specific spot before, we’re always up for exploring a new spot together!
Your session includes travel up to 60 miles from Harlan, IA. If you’d like to go somewhere outside the Harlan area, we’re up for the adventure!
The travel fee to Des Moines, Ames, and Lincoln, NE is $80.
We love traveling and are actually on the road quite a bit. If you’d like us to meet you in a destination outside of the Iowa or Nebraska area for your session where we don’t already have plans to visit, just let us know and we can get you a custom quote.
Dresses and skirts look stunning because they flatter every female body, especially on camera. I recommend avoiding shorts for your session and saying yes to a dress or two instead.
Jeans and pants look great for a slightly more casual look. It all depends on what type of look you want your session to be.
Long, full-length, flowy dresses and skirts look amazing on camera because they bring extra movement to the photos. Especially when juxtaposed with nature, like the desert, forest, plains or beach.
Consider softer fabrics like chiffon or tulle which allow for beautiful movement in the images.
You can bring one outfit for a one-hour session or three for a two-hour session!
Most of our clients choose two outfits and will bring one “wow” dress, and then another more casual outfit that has a “date night” or trendy feel.
Remember, though, you don’t have to bring two looks if it’s too stressful to coordinate or if you’d rather just stick to one fabulous look. One outfit that you love will be so much better than one outfit you love and another you’re not very excited about.
When choosing colors for your outfits, I recommend selecting softer, tones and more muted shades. Think pastels or jewel tones.
Don't avoid color all together, but by avoiding ultra-bright, neon or bold colors, it will help bring all the attention to your faces and let the eye focus on the way you feel about each other.
The camera loves shades of blues, greens, or jewel tones mixed with sophisticated light neutrals like heather gray, creams, leather brown and white.
This color palette fits beautifully into almost all natural outdoor environments. Earthy tones of brown and green also photograph beautifully!
Pairing an accessory or two like a hat or jacket with your outfit can really help bring some extra dimension to your images, and be a nice tie-in when you’re coordinating.
Belts, bracelets, and earrings bring great visual interest, so choose one or two that don’t compete for attention.
Fresh florals in a crown can be a really romantic touch as well.
BRING A PAIR OF EASY-TO-KICK-OFF FLATS TO WEAR WHEN MOVING FROM PLACE TO PLACE IN BETWEEN PHOTOS. YOUR FEET WILL THANK YOU LATER!
In my experience, every woman regardless of her shape, has an area of her body that she’s self-conscious about, so recognizing what area that is in advance is key. Choosing flattering silhouettes and colors that complement your natural features is the best way to ensure you’ll love the way you look in your photos.
Three-quarter length sleeves create an awesome slimming effect on all arms, so be on the lookout for an option with a longer length sleeve. You could also bring a cute jacket, blazer or cardigan along, too.
Skinny straps or strapless dresses have the opposite effect on arms on camera, so we recommend avoiding those whenever possible if your goal is a set of slimmer-looking arms. These little tricks make all the difference!
GO PRO: HAIR & MAKEUP
Professional hair and makeup are on the top of most of our clients’ checklists because it looks amazing on camera and removes the stress of getting ready on your own. This is the time to treat yourself! Whether it’s lash extensions or blown-out hair, professional hair and makeup will give you an extra boost of confidence in front of the camera, and it always photographs like a dream! Good makeup artists know how to get it all just right for the camera— and our clients always love the final result. If you need a hair and makeup artist I highly recommend Kate from @mamawwan.mua - She’s sweet as pie, talented as heck, unbelievably professional, and a wonderful person. You’ll LOVE her! We know she’ll take good care of you!
SKIP THE SPRAY TAN
Although it might seem counter-intuitive, we recommend that you do not get a spray tan before your session, even a few days prior, because it tends to photograph orange even when it’s applied subtly and by a professional. Your actual skin tone will photograph the most beautifully and naturally.
Long, fitted pants and a nice pair of shoes are the most sophisticated and masculine looks for men. They draw attention away from his legs and feet and place it where you want it: on his handsome face. So, for your session, it’s best to leave the shorts, sneakers and sandals at home, as well as any pants that are loose or baggy. Fitted chinos or nice jeans work best on camera. Solid shades of gray, dark green or navy are a strong complement to most women’s outfits and khaki never goes out of style.
Next time you walk by a store like J. Crew, you’ll notice the male mannequins and models are always wearing several layers at once. Layers on men look great on camera, so even when it’s hot outside, trust us when we say that it’s worth an hour of discomfort for photos that will last a lifetime. Adding another layer will bring an extra dimension and visual interest to your photos. Blazers, sweaters, jackets and open button elevate any look. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative with layers!
We would highly recommend wearing a nice pair of shoes! These can be leather dress shoes, boots, or a stylish pair of sneakers if you know what you're doing. You don't have to spend a lot, H&M, Old Navy, and Target usually have these for under $50. Belts and watches are sharp compliments to any outfit. A lot of the time these accessories will show up when you put your arms around each other; remembering these details are an easy way to set your photos apart.
Most men aren’t overly excited to take photos for two hours because they don’t have an expectation of what’s to come and why it’s so important to you. Take fifteen minutes to empower your guy. Tell him why you chose us and our style of photography. Show him your favorite sessions that we’ve done, explain why you love them and express to him how much it means to you. Trust us, once he knows it’s important, he’ll light up to the camera for you! The most common thing we hear from guys before photo sessions is this: because of a bad experience in the past, they don’t like taking photos or don’t think they’ll be good at it. By the time we’re done, though, they can’t believe how fast it went and just how much fun they had.
You can almost never go wrong with J.Crew, if they're a bit out of your budget be sure to check out their factory store, they have some of the same products at a discounted price. Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, H&M, and even Target all have contemporary mens departments with an awesome selection of clothes that fit well and won't break the bank.
I know I just gave you a lot to think about. I created this guide to help make your portrait session experience something you’ll look back fondly on for years and years to come. At the end of the day, though, the location you choose and the outfits you select won’t matter nearly as much as the memories you make together. Your future memories are the most important thing to us, and i want your session to be a time for you to just be yourselves and enjoy it. Have fun together. Laugh a lot. And I’ll take care of the rest!