How to Prepare for your Portrait Session

How to Prepare for your Portrait Session


Preparing for your portrait session can feel overwhelming. What do you wear? What do you bring? I’ve compiled a list of recommendations to help my clients prepare for their sessions- and now I’m sharing that list with you! Here’s a list of ways that you can prepare for your portrait session.


Have your outfit(s) picked out prior to your session. Choose 1-2 outfits, depending on the length of your session and how many outfits your photographer allows for. Keep in mind that if this is a location session that you may need to get changed in your car or a bathroom. 

  • What is the overall style you’re trying to achieve in your photographs? Let this help you figure out what you’re wanting to wear. Pinterest is a great place to look for outfit inspiration! You can check out my Wardrobe Inspiration Boards!
  • If it’s an outside location, make sure to plan for the weather and the location type! Check the forecast frequently during the week leading up to your session. 
  • Bring a sweater or jacket with you if it’s going to be chilly. Wearing layers will also help you stay warm but let you remove sections if you get too warm. 
  • If it’s a location that is a little more rugged, wear the right type of shoes! You may want to change out to a nicer pair of shoes for the actual photos, so pack them in a bag so that you can switch out. 
  • Bring a backup outfit in case it rains 
  • Dance outfits/dresses, ball gowns/prom dresses, or other special occasion outfits that you don’t get to wear often are great to consider!
  • Check out my Pinterest Inspiration Boards! 


Don’t forget your accessories! These can add depth, texture, and pops of color – as well as adding a more put together feeling for your outfit.  

  • Check out my Accessories pinterest board! 
  • Jewelry (earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets)
  • Scarves
  • Cardigans, vests, blazers, etc – a great option to have especially if you are only wearing one outfit. This can help add variety to your images without a full wardrobe change! 
  • If you’re wearing something special – for instance, like your class ring or your grandmother’s heirloom necklace, be sure to tell your photographer so that they can be sure to have a few photos where it is the focus!


  • Bring your makeup and brushes with you for touch ups, especially lip gloss or lipstick! 
  • Check out my Make Up Inspiration Pinterest Board! 
  • Try to avoid cakey foundation
  • A gentle exfoliation and moisturizer 10-15 minutes before makeup application can really benefit how well makeup sits on your face
  • Use a primer – these can help even skin tone and minimize pores 
  • Use a setting powder or spray to secure your makeup, especially if it’s going to be hot!
  • Neutral pallets and more natural looks are best UNLESS bold makeup is your usual look and/or it’s what you’re comfortable with!
  • If you’re not comfortable with applying makeup – book a professional makeup artist or let your photographer know. 


  • Check out my Pinterest board for Hair Style inspiration and my other board for Tips and Tutorials! 
  • If it’s going to be windy, be sure to have your hair secured or have a way that you can fix your hair. Bring Hair Spray and pins!
  • Guys might consider getting a fresh haircut a week or so before the portrait session.
  • If you dye your hair or highlight it, try and schedule an appointment with your hair stylist about a week or week and a half before your portrait session. 


  • Is there anything special that you would like to include in your session? Things like musical instruments (guitars, flutes, violins, and other easily portable instruments), heirloom or special quilts, sports jerseys or cheerleading uniforms, graduation cap and gown, special flowers from your garden, etc. 
  • Be sure to collect what you’d like to bring ahead of time and set them where you won’t forget them. 


  • If you have little ones;
    • Be sure to bring a couple of non messy snacks for them. 
    • A beloved toy to help keep them entertained during times when they might be bored would be a great idea, too.
    • If it fits into your usual schedule, a nap for them before the session might help them out too – especially if they get cranky when they’re tired. 
    • Bring wipes for little faces and hands. 
    • Bring a change of clothes, just in case. 
    • If they wear diapers or pull ups: Bring one or two extra – just in case! 
  • Let your photographer know things that tend to make your children laugh or smile. What’s their favorite game or song? 


  • If you haven’t already, book your session at least a few weeks in advance.
  • Try to get a good sleep the night before your session! 
  • Make sure you know how long it will take you to drive to the location so that you can give yourself enough time to get there. Leaving a few minutes early is a great way to ensure you get there on time just in case there are unexpected reasons that might slow down traffic.  
  • Stay in contact with your photographer. Let them know if you’re struggling to figure out what to wear or bring and they should be able to help you. Let them know if you’re running late or if any changes need to be made to your session plans. 
  • Review any documents your photographer sent you, they might have sent their own preparation guide!
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