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  • Lisa Olson

Preparing for your photo shoot

Updated: Jul 13

Photo shoot prep ideas


When having your portrait taken, there are five areas where a little advanced preparation can make a huge difference. Neglect them, and an otherwise perfect photo could end up with distracting elements which take the focus away from where it should be. The five areas are: Face, Hair, Hands, Skin, and Clothes.


The week before your shoot (or sooner, if you’ve booked ahead) is a time for planning. Decide on outfits, choose which beautification steps you will take, and schedule the appointments (even if they’re just with yourself). Remember, these tips are here to help you think of ideas for preparing for your shoot, but are definitely not required, or even necessary for everybody. Just choose what fits in with your budget, lifestyle, and current beauty regimen, and go from there!


Face-

Whiten Teeth. Crest sells white-strips that whiten in a week or less for a quick whiteness boost. I hear dentists can whiten teeth, too. Many even do it for free for new clients. If you’re due for a cleaning, you might consider going all out.


Don’t Pick. A pimple is very easy to cover with makeup, but scabs, wounds and flaky patches are more tricky. As soon as possible, stop picking at your skin. If you’re like me and scratch and squeeze at every bump and flake on your face, it’s time to pull out the big guns. Do whatever it takes. Stop examining your face closer than 2 feet from a mirror.


Exfoliate. A nice, soothing session using a grainy scrub (or gently rubbing your skin with a washcloth) on your face and body is an indulgent way to spend an evening. Plan to exfoliate a couple times before your appointment but be sure to allow a few days between ‘treatments’, as well as a couple days after the last one before your shoot.


Get a Facial. If you’re going to go all out into pamper mode, be sure to do your facial at least a week before your shoot. Since facials tend to cause redness, a week usually allows enough time to heal. For those of us on a budget, an at-home facial with a gooey, florescent masque is always a fun alternative to a night on the town.


- Hair -

Touch Up Your Roots. If you dye your hair, touching up your regrowth three days to a week before your photo shoot is ideal. Take my advice: this is not the time for drastic changes. Trust me.


Get a Trim. Neat, healthy hair is youthful and vibrant. If it’s been a while since your last haircut, even a subtle trim can make a world of difference.


Deep Condition. Your salon can do a professional conditioning treatment, or you can use your favorite deep conditioner or protein pack at home. Toss it on with the gooey facial masque. Wrap your head, turban-style. Wear harem pants and pretend you’re a genie while you’re marinating. Or read a book. Your call.



- Hands -

Get a Manicure. While you’re at it, toss in the pedicure. If you’re hard on your manicures, book the mani/pedi for the day before your shoot.


Minimalists can stick with neatly shaped, clear nails. Soft, neutral colors work well for fingertips. Toes can get away with any color. (Think about the outfits you’re bringing and be sure to choose a color that will compliment your choices.)


Clean Your Wedding Ring. Using a toothbrush and toothpaste is a great day-to-day way to clean your bling, but most professional jewelers have sonic cleaners that make it sparkle like the day it was born. Many will even clean your ring for free. Especially if you return to the jeweler you bought it from.


- Skin -

Wax or Shave. If you go the waxing route, give yourself a few days to heal before your shoot. Shaving can be done the night before. Be sure to get your legs and underarms, and if you’ll be wearing a swimsuit or lingerie, go for the bikini area as well.

Remember that, while Photoshop can hide a multitude of sins, you’ll love knowing that your pictures have captured your most perfect self. There are some things however you may not want to change. A couple of examples are birthmarks or scars. Some people feel that these markings are part of who we are, while others would rather have them “Photoshop” away. Which is right? Whatever you want. It’s your face, your body, your photos.


Clothes -

Your portraits should be a reflection of you, just more polished. Choose outfits you love. Think of those special pieces you might not wear often because they’re impractical for day-to-day use, or the go-to blouse you always wear when you’re going somewhere nice.

Something Dark. Bring at least one dark outfit or top. Black, Navy or Charcoal work best here.

Something Light. For your light outfit, think angelic. Soft, gauzy, maybe even layered and sheer. It doesn't have to be white, you could go with cream, nude, light pink...


Something Fun/Funky/Whimsical. This outfit is your chance to really show your personal style. If you tend toward more conservative tastes, choose a different adjective. Instead of Funky, try Structured, Soft, Elegant, or Formal.


Consider Necklines. I love to be able to see your collar bone, so boat neck, scoop neck, square neck, deep V and off-the-shoulder are my favorite necklines. Whatever you choose, try to make it more interesting than the basic T-Shirt neckline. If you love turtlenecks, go for it! Feel free to bring whatever calls to you. Mixing up the necklines will add variety to your shots, so try not to bring all of one style.


Fit Your Form. Fitted clothing that shows your shape work best for photographs. Skip that billowy, blouse top, or anything with batwing sleeves. While they might be flattering in person, they will not be slimming in camera. This applies to any body type. Choose outfits that will hug your curves, especially your waist, hips, arms, and chest.


Avoid wearing bold patterns, neon colors, bright white shirts, stripes because it makes people look wider, plaid unless it's fall or Christmas, and big logos. We want people to look at you when they see your portrait, don't let your wardrobe steal the attention.


- The Day-Of Checklist -

- Pretty nails (Neutral or natural fingers)

- Touched up brows

- Don't forget to eat something (I will have water and small snacks available if shooting in studio)

- Your outfits you have so carefully selected for your photo shoot

- Hair and makeup ready

It is perfectly normal to be nervous. Don't worry I will help you feel comfortable in no time.



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