7 Step Guide to a stress free Portrait session


In light of being in front of the camera recently, I wanted to share with you some of my personal preparations I go through before hopping in front of the camera. Here are 7 ways I prep for my own photo sessions before the final 24 hour countdown! 


Prep the night before

This goes back to knowing the end result you’re looking for in terms of mood/feel/experience you want to be able to relive - have style and outfits decided WAY before your session.  Make sure you have enough time to order/shop for what you need to complete an outfit.  If you need help deciding what to wear, I have a few outfit suggestions on Pinterest and I also put together an article on What to Wear. As a fan of capsule wardrobes, I also recommend this article for what to pack for your trip to Paris by Caroline Joy.  I wouldn’t recommend trying something new the day of your shoot - stick with what makes you feel confident for classic images.  Whether you want to try that new smokey eye technique or a moisturizer sample, do so a minimum of 2 days before the shoot so you can test it for 1-4 hours.  You also have the option to hire a hair or makeup artist (I know the perfect one!) who can give you a new look while working with your hair and skin type! The day before the shoot, have everything laid out already so it’s waiting for you in the morning and you don’t have to search for everything half asleep :)

Get in the zone

Truth be told, neither me or my other half are always thrilled to find out we are spending the morning taking photos(we’re getting old?). He IS thrilled about the idea of having photos of us but taking photographs sounds like a lot of hard work, especially if it means less sleep! Emphasize that, for everyone involved and with the right photographer, time is going to fly and the experience is meant to be a fun memory! You’ll not only get to spend the time on location but most likely you’ll be doing some of your favorite things!

Set aside even just 5 mintues to focus on your session and how you imagine it unfolding.  Even though there are days when I do not use 100% of my plan (this is why there are backup plans!), it’s still nice to have a vision.  This helps you prepare yourself mentally or, in other words, get you pumped!  You should be looking forward to having fun and documenting such a beautiful moment. Take the necessary steps to feel your best and share any key points with your photographer.  Being flexible is obviously key but we really want to get to know you, your ideas and goals for your custom session!  Dream big!  For example, if you relate your personality types to John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in the 1978 film, Grease, pin or reference imagines that best communicate this and bring more inspiration to the table to imagine the possibilities.

Put your best face forward 

Yes I can photoshop out a few zits, but glowing skin takes a consistent routine of exfoliating and moisturizing. See a dermatologist if you have skin issues and get a few facials. You can choose to go to a salon but it is better to have a consistent routine at home that you can keep up with.  Again, I wouldn’t recommend trying something new the day of your shoot - if you’ve never had a facial, try one about a month before. If you like it, get the same one again about a week before your shoot. My personal favorite is the HydraFacial. Note: You should ideally wait a 1 week before applying makeup again after a HydraFacial.

My weekly at-home ritual includes steaming my face and applying a mask.  Schedule this the day before or, if you can’t make time, apply a small T-zone mask the morning of your session.  My favorite one to use is Cup O’Coffee from Lush.  If I don’t have a pre made mask on hand, I make one myself :) To take away redness, I apply an oatmeal mask made with oatmeal and water mixed to the right consistency. Add a little bit of honey if you have some.

Remove the mask and moisturize/apply sunscreen.  A few favorite moisturizers I pick up at my local pharmacy are Bioderma Cicabio SPF 50+ paired with Bioderma Créaline Yeux for the eyes. Also, slather on Nuxe Rêve de Miel the night before - Your lips will thank you!


Rest well - it’s not often you get your photos professionally taken and, if you’re like 90% of my clients, you’re going to wake up SUPER early.  As an early riser who would like to avoid the stresses of a crowded afternoon session, maybe you prepare for an early night the day prior to your session with a Netflix night in, an early screening of that movie you’ve been wanting to see or take out.  If you’re in Paris for a short amount of time who want to try the hottest bar or wait in line for the most talked about dinner, weigh your options and prioritize.  There is a tactic to balancing both ;) 

Be sure about your location choice

Although I love an amazing Eiffel Tower shot and Montmartre came in as a solid backup plan, in the end, we both chose a location special to US which happened to be in a very quiet district in Paris. We wanted to relive the experience years down the road. What experience do you want to relive through your portraits? Share the end result and experience with your photographer. The photos should be about YOU whether that’s documenting your first trip to Paris or something you do regularly together, consider what best fits you as a couple to have photos you will cherish for years and years. If you need help selecting your location, check out my article 8 Tips for Choosing your Location

Lose the baggage

Think of anything you need to bring with you but don’t want in your photos.  For example, your coat, phone, purse, etc.  Minimize what you bring with you and for whatever you have that needs to accompany you to your photo session, pack it in one large bag (canvas, beach bag style) the night before.  The larger tote can be used to hold coats, outfits, shoes or props but shouldn't have anything valuable inside.   You are welcome to put smaller items, sich as phones, wallets, and cosmetics, in my bag during the length of your photo session. 

Leave nerves at the door

As a photographer, I find it odd to admit I still get nervous prepping for my own photo shoot. Everyone’s personality is different but 9 times out of 10 (ok, maybe 10 out of 10), clients are nervous in front of a camera. Allow yourself to trust your abilities! You’re capable of doing more than you think, so if you just allow yourself to believe it, you’re going to be able relax, enjoy the moment, and laugh a little. Especially laugh - just watch this video by photographer Sara K Byrne!

I hope you found this helpful!  Planning for a portrait session can feel intimidating and wonderful at the same time. Thankfully, I’m here to help!  Please reach out if you have any questions and in addition to this article, I’ve put together some other informative pages and examples to make planning for photos part of the fun!  Head over to my exclusive tips page for more articles like this.