Session Prep Guides


Preparing for Your Mini-Session | Spring 2017

With Spring mini-sessions just a week away, I wanted to make a few suggestions for how to prepare so things will go as smoothly as possible.  If you have a friend interested in signing up, there are very few slots left.  The signup is here.

Weather With our beautiful indoor space at Ready, Set, KIDS, sessions will take place rain or shine.  If it ends up raining, it can be helpful to make sure you have an umbrella so hair doesn’t get messed up on the way in.

Arrive on time.  Sessions are scheduled back to back.  Please plan to arrive 5-10 minutes early to get settled so we can get started right on time.

What should I wear?  I think the primary consideration for clothing for a photoshoot is that you should be comfortable and feel good about yourself in the clothes you’re wearing.   The guidelines below are for families, but the same basic principals apply for individuals and couples as well.

Beyond that, there are certainly some guidelines that can help if you are so inclined to seek out guidelines.   First of all, it can help to coordinate without matching among the members of your group — so maybe you’re all wearing similar colors, or the parents are wearing similar tones while the kids wear a complementary pattern.  Or the parents (or one parent) wears a nice pattern while the kids wear solids.  I do recommend avoiding graphics if at all possible, since they tend to both be distracting and not age as well as solids and patterns.  When you’re considering colors, it can be helpful to think about where you might display these photos — does your decor tend towards jewel tones, or neutrals?  For a really classic look, it can be helpful to stick with basics for most of your look, but add some pizazz with some flashier jewelry, or a jacket.

The space we’ll be in has a light blue wall color, so please keep that in mind when choosing your outfits.  (the images on this post are all from the space we’ll be in).

 

Most all, though, just remember — if it’s something you feel good in, you’ll be more comfortable and relaxed for your session and we’ll get more “real” smiles and emotion — so don’t sweat the wardrobe too much.

How can I prepare my kids?  Depending on the age(s) of your child(ren), it can be helpful to talk to them ahead of time about what’s going to happen, so
they’re aware and prepared.  Please make sure as much as possible that children (and adults!) are well-fed (hungry people are cranky people), and well-rested.  I strongly recommend *against* using electronics to keep kids happy during the session — I find it’s often hard to pull their attention away from the screen once its been given.  For a small child who might be nervous in front of the camera, it can be helpful to let me know ahead of time what sorts of things they like (really into Elmo?  Dinosaurs?  Outer space?  etc) and what sorts of tricks YOU find work well for them — you know your child best!  Once we’re in the middle of the session, it’s very helpful if the adults can keep the pose I’ve given while I take over the kid-wrangling so that when that perfect moment happens for the kids, everyone else is ready!  Most importantly, it helps if the adults in the room can remain relaxed!

Image Delivery.All sessions will be delivered by an online gallery.  The digital images are high resolution and you will also have a print release to print where you prefer.  The wonderful thing about the gallery is it’s also connected to my professional printing lab so that you can order prints through my lab if you prefer.   I will post a sneak peek on my Facebook page within a few days of the mini-session event.

 

As always, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions you may have!

 


Preparing for your Maternity Session

Baby Bump LovePregnancy is a time of enormous anticipation — excitement, yes, also sometimes accompanied by some worry about what life will be like after baby arrives.  Often, moms also may feel not only wonder at what their body is accomplishing in growing a new human being, but also may be a little uncomfortable with the changes in their appearance.  I love helping moms embrace the beauty in pregnancy, and to see themselves as truly beautiful.  This is a fleeting stage — soon (though I understand at times it might not seem soon enough!) you will be holding your baby outside your body and the next stage will have begun.

I especially love doing maternity mini-sessions as a complimentary part of my Bump & Baby package —  I find it helps to get to know each other a bit before the newborn session, if possible.  To help prepare for your maternity session, I’ve put together this guide — please let me know, of course, if you have any additional questions!

When in pregnancy should my maternity session be scheduled for?

Generally you want to aim for a maternity portrait session between 30-36 weeks of pregnancy.  That being said, you know your body the best, and if you are feeling like an earlier session might be more to your liking, we can absolutely do that.  Later than 36 weeks, the big concern is that portrait session may end up being pre-empted by delivery of the baby, but if you are late in your pregnancy and would like to try to squeeze maternity portraits in before you have your baby, I am very happy to work with you if I have space on my schedule and your baby is willing to accommodate!

Who should attend the maternity session?

Most moms find that they want their partner, and older children if they have them, to attend the portrait session — it can be a nice chance to capture your family as it is right now before adding a new member.  Many moms also choose, even if they do have older children, to do a session with just them and their partner, focusing on the two of them as a couple before a new baby is added to the mix.  There are also lots of moms who want the focus of the maternity session to just be on them, and they come on their own — I love those sessions too!  So, basically, what it comes down to is that it all depends on what you want out of these portraits.  If you are bringing children, I recommend you take a look at my Family Session Prep Guide for ideas to maximize the children’s cooperation and patience.

Where should our session take place?

All of my portrait sessions take place on location, whether that’s at your home, your favorite park, or another outdoor spot.  If you have a favorite spot, that’s always my go-to, since I think it helps personalize the session some and make it even more special for your family.  If you don’t, though, no worries!  I have a whole list of locations I love, and we can chat about what will work best for you!

What should I/we wear?

For maternity portraits, you will want to wear something that will show off your belly’s roundness.  There are lots of ways to do this, so pick something that fits you and your style!  Generally, an outfit with shape, but which doesn’t cling too tightly will give us the most options.  Dresses can be nice, as can a more casual look with pants and a shirt.  A cardigan, or a large button-down shirt can also be a fun way to showcase your new shape!   The most important thing is to wear something you feel confident in.

As for colors and coordinating outfits between family members, I will point you at the clothing portion of the Family Session Prep Guide.

What should we bring?

It’s up to you whether or not you’d like to include any
props or special mementos in your session.  Some families like to include an ultrasound printout, or a special stuffed animal, or a little pair of shoes if you already have one.  Many other families opt to not use props and that’s fine too — it’s entirely up to you!  If you’re thinking about bringing something, let me know, and I’ll try to find a way to incorporate it into your portraits!


Preparing for Your Headshot Session

MWP-4A good headshot (or business portrait, since many professionals choose a wider crop these days than the traditional headshot including only head-and-shoulders) can be a powerful asset for you in your professional life, whether you need it for a job search, for a presentation you’re giving, or your website.   Several of my clients have even used their business portraits for online dating!  No matter what your final goal, some preparation before your session can go a long way towards making the whole process smooth, and making sure you’re happy with the resulting images.

Think about your goals for your portraits

What do you want to convey in your images?  It’s ok to go for several different vibes, but if you’re able to think ahead of time of what you want to get across to your audience, it will be a lot easier to get there.  One client mostly wanted to convey a friendly-and-approachable, but still professional look, but she also works in what can be a very tough-going, aggressive profession, so we also got some images for her where she was exuding “bad ass” — it was a lot of fun, and was a huge confidence boost for her!  Another client was job-hunting (and had been for a while) — he really wanted more than anything for his portrait to say “hire me!  I’m easy to work with and competent,” so that was the look we went for.  A tutoring company wanted to make sure that all their employees looked knowledgeable to the parents, but easily relatable to the teens they work with.  What you’re looking for will depend greatly on your industry and your goals!

Clothing, Hair, and Makeup

Ah, the millions dollar question!  What should I wear?  This is something that will depend greatly on your answers to point #1 above — what are you trying to convey?  No matter what, it should be something you feel good in — something that helps you feel confident.  If you are in an industry where suits are standard, it would be a good idea to wear a suit, but if you work in a more casual field, don’t feel like you need to be dressed to the nines just because it’s a business portrait — these images need to represent you and your work.  The most important things to consider, no matter what your outfit, is that it is clean, ironed if necessary, and that it won’t distract the viewer from your gorgeous face.  Wait, how will you know if it meets that last criterion?  Generally you want a solid color, in a shade that’s flattering for you, without busy patterns or distracting graphics (the exception to this is that if you wear a uniform for work, the company logo is an asset rather than a liability).  Choosing something simple, and then accessorizing to provide some pizazz is a great choice since it gives us lots of options during your session — with and without your snazzy jacket or scarf, or statement necklace or earrings.  It helps give variety without having to change your entire outfit.

Once your outfit and accessories are settled, it’s time to think about your hair, and, for women, makeup should you choose to wear it.  These are, of course, all very personal decisions, which will ultimately reflect parts of who you are, and what you want to show the world.  If you are getting a haircut, it can be helpful to do so 1-2 weeks ahead of your session so it has time to settle in.  I don’t recommend trying a drastically new hairstyle the day of the shoot — aim for something tried and true which you are comfortable with and confident in.  Likewise on the makeup front — if you’re someone who never wears makeup, or only wears a minimum, that’s fine!  There’s no need to go all out if that’s not something you normally do.  If that IS something you normally do, go for it!  Get all dolled up and enjoy!

Location

All of my work is done on location.  For many professionals, outdoor business portraits are all the rage, and we have lots of excellent options for outdoor locations to convey a wide variety of moods — urban bMan Professional Outdoor Portraitrick, sophisticated limestone, lush green parks — there are a whole bunch of options!  If outdoor business portraits aren’t really your thing, I also am happy to come to your office space — this can be a great option to showcase your own work!  It’s really entirely up to you what you want to do in terms of location, and I am happy to offer specific guidance for your situation.

Relax and have fun!

Most important of all is this last point — the more you are able to relax and trust the process, the easier it will be.  I promise this doesn’t need to be scary (and let me know if there’s something you’re particularly concerned about so I can make sure to keep it in mind).  One of the nice thing about business portraits is that we get to know one another a bit, laugh, and have fun!  I understand many people believe they are “un-photogenic” but I believe there is no such thing — there is beauty in each person, and I take great joy in bringing that out in images you will love!


Preparing for your Viewing & Ordering Session

One of the things I love about being a photographer is helping families not only capture memories, but preserve them — and preservation means printing.  I understand that sometimes it can be overwhelming to pick out what will work best for your home, gifts for relatives, or an album, so I am there to help you figure out what will work best for you.  Sometimes clients have a clear idea going in (“We definitely want something to hang on the wall.”  “We don’t really have the space for a wall display, but would love to do an album so we’ll have all our favorite images”) and sometimes it becomes clearer through the process of picking those favorites what will work best (“Oh, this image is THE ONE!” — that family will probably do best with wall art. “I can’t pick — there are 25 images I love!” — an album is probably a better fit!).   Best of all, for me, though is getting to see the client’s reaction in person when they see their images for the first time.

I’ve out together a short guide to help you prepare for your session — if you have a question that isn’t answered in here, as always, feel free to get in contact and ask!

 

When do we get to see our images?

I’ll post a small sneak peek — usually one image — in a blog post and on my Facebook page within a few days of your session — I know you want to see something soon and be able to share!  The rest of your images you’ll get to see at your Viewing & Ordering session, which generally takes place 1-2 weeks after your portrait session (we’ll schedule a time for this during our initial discussion of your session, or at your session itself).

Do I need to do anything to prepare?

The most helpful thing you can do to prepare is to think about what you might want to do with your images — generally each client picks their heirloom piece(s) of wall art, album (or both), and then picks their add-ons (gifts for relatives, smaller prints for the office, digital files, etc).  If you have a good idea of what you might want to do with the images at the start of the Viewing session, it will help streamline the process.

If you are considering wall art at all, it can also be very helpful to walk through your home and think about possible placement.  If there’s a wall you’re thinking of, please take a quick snapshot with your phone with a standard 8.5×11 piece of paper taped up (for scale — you can also just send me the measurement of something else with a straight line in the snapshot).  I can then put this snapshot of your home into my software so we can see what the images you like would look like at various sizes on that very wall.

What happens at the Viewing & Ordering session?

The Viewing & Ordering session generally takes place at the client’s home.  I’ll bring samples of all of the different kinds of print products I offer (mounted wall art, canvas galleries, albums, display boxes, etc).   We’ll sit down, and I’ll show you all the final images from your portrait session in a slideshow — this gives you a good overview of the session.  At this point, don’t worry too much about specifics — just sit back and relax and enjoy!

After the slideshow, we’ll talk about your initial thoughts — what would you like to do with these images?  If you have a clear idea of what you’re interested in, we can then go through the images one by one with that in mind — go through once to pick your wall art, another time to pick your gift prints for Grandma, etc.

If you’re not sure yet, that’s fine too!  We’ll go through and put the images into one of three “buckets” — Yes, No, Maybe.  Once we have the initial sort done, we can then see how many images we’re looking at and talk about what might make the most sense to do with them, and do further sorting from there.

Once you’ve picked your products and images, I’ll go over what we’ve discussed to make sure I’ve gotten it down just as you want it, and then I’ll put together your order form —  when all that is done, you will pay for your images (check or credit card) to finalize the order.

Who should attend the Viewing & Ordering Session?

All decision-makers should attend — usually this means both spouses, but each family has their own way of doing things, and if you are comfortable with one person making these decisions on their own, that is your prerogative.  Generally it’s easiest to have this meeting without children present, especially very young children, but as a mom myself I absolutely understand if you need to bring them — if you can, please bring a favorite toy or two, or let me know if you allow your child screen time and I can set up something to keep them occupied while we talk 🙂


Preparing for Your Family Session

Meadow Family PortraitWorking with families, large and small, is one of my favorite parts of my job!  I love how each family has their own unique personality and way of interacting — no two sessions are ever the same, which helps keep things fun!  Your family session with me is all about capturing your family as you are in this moment and preserving this point in time for your memories decades and generations down the road.   As you prepare for your session, I am very happy to answer any questions as they come up.  Many times, I get similar questions about preparations from many different families, so I thought it might be helpful to put together a list of the frequently asked questions along with my answers — if there is anything you feel I’m missing, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

When should I schedule my family session?

The short answer is, whenever you would like!  Spring, Summer, and Fall are all very popular times, but Winter can be just as nice — either outdoors for a snowy, “winter wonderland” type of vibe, or in your home all nice and cozy.  Whenever you decide to book, it can be very helpful to schedule your session 1-2 months ahead of time if you can to ensure you get your preferred date and time.  If you aren’t able to plan that far ahead, please get in touch anyway — I try to accommodate everyone I can!

Another question I get a lot is about time of day.  For outdoor sessions, the most flattering light is found within 2 hours of sunrise or sunset.  Obviously, the specific times will vary depending on the time of year (December sunset sessions are a lot earlier than June sunset sessions!).   For indoor sessions, you actually want to schedule in the middle of the day, if at all possible so we have as much light as possible to work with indoors.   So your session time will depend very much on what time of year it is, and the location.  Timing is also important for families with little kids — when at all possible, I always try to work around nap time and meal time to help ensure that kids are in the best mood possible.

Where should the session take place?

All of my family sessions take place on location, whether that’s at your home, your favorite park, or another outdoor spot.  If your family has a favorite spot, that’s always my go-to, since I think it helps personalize the session some and make it even more special for your family.  If you don’t, though, no worries!  I have a whole list of locations I love, and we can chat about what will work best for you!

Who should be at the session?

Whoever you are defining as family.  For some, that’s just two — a couple on their own.  For some, the family is parents and children.  For some, it includes grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and more!  Or maybe there are some family friends who are like chosen family they’re so close — I leave your definition of family entirely up to you 🙂

How can I prepare my kids for the session?

Depending on the age(s) of your child(ren), it can be helpful to talk to them ahead of time about what’s going to happen, and, if you’re comfortable with it, set up some sort of reward for cooperation (it could be something immediate, like a small pile of m&ms, which can be doled out throughout the session for cheerful cooperation, or for an older child, a slightly bigger treat to be given at the end like a cookie or a small toy).  I recommend *against* using electronics to keep kids happy during the session — I find it’s often hard to pull their attention away from the screen once its been given.  It can also be very helpful to bring some non-messy snacks, and plenty of water in case the kids get hungry or thirsty.

For a small child who might be nervous in front of the camera, it can be helpful to let me know ahead of time what sorts of things they like (really into Elmo?  Dinosaurs?  Outer space?  etc) and what sorts of tricks YOU find work well for them — you know your child best!  Once we’re in the middle of the session, it’s very helpful if the adults can keep the pose I’ve given while I take over the kid-wrangling so that when that perfect moment happens for the kids, everyone else is ready!  Most importantly, it helps if the adults in the room can remain relaxed 🙂

What should we wear?Outdoor Family Portrait

Ok, this is the big one!  I recently attended a talk on building a wardrobe by stylist Emma March, of Helena’s, a women’s boutique here in Arlington.  I loved the philosophy she espoused — that your clothes should fit who you are NOW, not 10lbs lighter or heavier, not 5 years from now, or 5 years ago, because you are you now, and not any of those other yous, and you need to be comfortable walking out the door today, and worry about five years from now then.  I feel like this really speaks to how I feel about dressing for a portrait session — these are memories of you now, and you should be comfortable and feel good about yourself in the clothes you’re wearing — this, I think should be the primary concern when deciding what to wear.

Beyond that, there are certainly some guidelines that can help if you are so inclined to seek out guidelines.  First of all, it can help to coordinate without matching among the members of your group — so maybe you’re all wearing similar colors, or the parents are wearing similar tones while the kids wear a complementary pattern.  Or the parents (or one parent) wears a nice pattern while the kids wear solids.  I do recommend avoiding graphics if at all possible, since they tend to both be distracting and not age as well as solids and patterns.  When you’re considering colors, it can be helpful to think about where you might display these photos — does your decor tend towards jewel tones, or neutrals?  For a really classic look, it can be helpful to stick with basics for most of your look, but add some pizazz with some flashier jewelry, or a jacket.

Most all, though, just remember — if it’s something you feel good in, you’ll be more comfortable and relaxed for your session and we’ll get more “real” smiles and emotion — so don’t sweat the wardrobe too much 🙂


Preparing for your Newborn Portrait Session | Mira Whiting Photography

Newborn Baby Girl PortraitI absolutely love working with newborns and their families — there is something really magical about this period, which goes by all too fast!  Your newborn session with me is all about capturing the details of your tiny new baby and his or newness, as well as your newly re-configured family, whether that’s baby & parents or includes older siblings as well.  I generally budget about 3 hours of time for these sessions to ensure that we are never rushed or stressed — I know that as exciting as the newborn period is, it can also be stressful and exhausting, and I want your newborn session to be a bit of an oasis of relaxation.  I often get asked questions about how to prepare for a newborn session, so I thought it might be helpful to put together a quick guide.  You may find some of this more helpful than other parts, and that’s fine — each family has unique needs!

When should I schedule my newborn session?

When a baby is born, it seems like there are a million things to do, and very little energy and time to do them with.  Because of this, if possible, I recommend getting in touch while you’re pregnant to reserve space on my calendar — when you do this, I block off several times around your due date, and we don’t set a particular date and time until baby arrives because babies often have minds of their own about when they want to make their appearance!  Ideally, your newborn session will take place within the first 14 days or so of baby’s life — this is when baby is sleepiest and most amenable to posing and being moved around for different setups.  If you’re breastfeeding, it can help to schedule the session for after your milk comes in (generally by day 3 or so, but this varies).  If you’re having a boy and planning on circumcising him, it can be helpful to wait 5 days or so after the procedure to allow some time for healing to make sure baby is comfortable during the session.

Where will my newborn session take place?

I do all my newborn sessions on location, generally at the family’s home.  In the very height of summer, if it’s warm enough, we can try a few shots outside, but I generally find that both babies and parents are most comfortable in those early days in the familiar surroundings of their own home.

Who should be there?

The focus of the session will be on your new baby, but I also encourage parents, and grandparents if they are around to be involved as well.  Siblings are always welcome.  I generally like to do portraits with family members at the beginning of the session, especially when older siblings are involved — that way if they get wiggly, we’ll have what we need and they can go play.

How can I prepare siblings to take part in the session?

If older siblings are going to be involved, depending on their age(s), it can be helpful to talk to them ahead of time about what’s going to happen, and, if you’re comfortable with it, set up some sort of reward for cooperation (it could be something immediate, like a small pile of m&ms, which can be doled out throughout the session for cheerful cooperation, or for an older child, a slightly bigger treat to be given at the end like a cookie or a small toy).  I recommend *against* using electronics to keep kids happy during the session — I find it’s often hard to pull their attention away from the screen once its been given.  For a small child who might be nervous in front of the camera, it can be helpful to let me know ahead of time what sorts of things they like (really into Elmo?  Dinosaurs?  etc) and what sorts of tricks YOU find work well for them — you know your child best!  Once we’re in the middle of the session, it’s very helpful if the adults can keep the pose I’ve given while I take over the kid-wrangling so that when that perfect moment happens for the kids, everyone else is ready!  Most importantly, it helps if the adults in the room can remain relaxed 🙂

How should we dress the baby?

It’s helpful to dress the baby that day in loose clothing so there aren’t any marks on baby’s skin.  Beyond that, it’s really up to you!  I have a few little hats and outfits that I will bring, and if you have anything that has a lot of sentimental value, I’d love to work it into the session if I can!  It’s those personal touches that I think really help make the session truly yours.

What should we wear?

For parents and siblings, I generally recommend that you wear something that’s a solid color — it can help to have all the family members within the same color family, but you don’t have to match.  When thinking about colors to wear, think Football Newbornabout what your plans are for the images and where they might be displayed so you can wear something that will fit in well with your decor.  Other than that, you should wear something that you are comfortable in and feel good about yourself in.

How should we prepare our space?

This is a question I get a lot when going into the family’s home for the portrait session!  For the best newborn portraits, it can help to open up all the curtains to let lots of light in (I can adjust this when I get there if I need to!) and, most importantly, turn up the heat!   Ideally, it would be best to get the space to 85 degrees (I will also bring a space heater to get the immediate area we’re working in nice and toasty) — this helps get baby nice and sleepy for those sweet newborn shots.

What about feeding?

It can be helpful to plan to feed the baby right before I arrive, but I know newborns are generally not in any kind of routine yet, so don’t worry if you don’t manage this!  One of the reasons I allocate so much time for the session is to allow plenty of time for feeding when the baby wants to eat (as well as the ensuing diaper changes).

 

 

Is there something I haven’t covered that you’re wondering about?  Please don’t hesitate to let me know!  I’m happy to answer any questions!  Most of all, I’m looking forward to working with you and your baby and giving you a nice relaxing experience which will yield images you’ll treasure forever!