Portrait Session Guide
first things first
I am so excited for your engagement session and I’m so honored to help you create memories you’ll cherish for a lifetime. I’ve created this guide to help you get the most out of your photos, and by the time you’ve read through this, you'll have all your questions answered and feel more than ready and prepared for your session. Then I’ll take care of the rest! Your only job is to be yourself, laugh a lot and let me create photos you’ll love forever. I can’t wait to get you in front of my camera!
choosing time & date
I photograph almost all portrait sessions (engagement sessions, families, and seniors) using only natural light. I do this because this type of light makes for some stunning photographs! I begin all portrait sessions approximately two hours before the scheduled sunset during “the golden hour,” when the light is the dreamiest. Use a sunset calculator online to determine the scheduled sunset for the date and location you’d like to do your session. Then, just subtract two hours to figure out your start time. 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, please plan a buffer when getting ready so you can arrive a few minutes early to your session and be ready to start on time. I’m only able to shoot when natural light is still in the sky, so I’ll want to take advantage of every minute we have together before the sun goes down. If you’re wearing two outfits, save your favorite one for the second half, and if you’re wearing one, arrive in that.
selecting the right location
The location of your portrait session is up to you! For most of our sessions, outdoor, open-air environments are always our first choice. I love shooting in wide-open natural spaces because the light is divine, especially during golden hour.
PORTRAIT SESSION $550
90 minutes of photography in up to 2 locations.
1 outfit change (optional)
50+ edited high-resolution files available to download via password protected online gallery.
Ability to share gallery with friends and family through email and social media.
Prints of all sizes can be purchased a la carte and added to all packages. A 50% non-refundable retainer and signed contract is needed to hold all session dates. The remaining balance is due by the date of your session.
Portrait sessions include maternity, family, & engagement session photography.
s t y l i n g t i p s
don’t be afraid to dress up
Have you thought about rocking a romantic gown, tulle skirt or flower crown but just never had an occasion for it? This is your chance to do it up! Remember: There is no such thing as “too dressed up” when it comes to your engagement session, so don’t be afraid to have some fun! If you don’t want to add a new permanent piece to your collection, a lot of my clients love Rent the Runway for their session because it’s such an affordable way to feel like a million bucks. Other clients love having a great excuse to bring a new permanent piece (or two!) into their closet!
say yes to the dress
Dresses and skirts look most stunning because they really flatter every female body, especially on camera — which is probably why the red carpet is always full of so many dresses and not very many pantsuits! 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 forest, park, or beach. Consider softer fabrics like chiffon or tulle which allow for beautiful movement in the images.
one or two looks
You can bring one outfit set or two! Some clients who choose two outfits will bring one “wow” dress, and then another slightly more casual outfit.
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. And if you stick with one outfit set, you won’t have to spend any of your time changing half way through, so we’ll be able to sneak in a few more photos!
When choosing colors for your outfits, I recommend selecting softer, lighter tones and more muted shades. By avoiding ultra-bright, 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 soft pink and muted blues, mixed with sophisticated light neutrals like heather gray, creams, and browns. That softer color palette fits beautifully into almost all natural outdoor environments.
flattering your features
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 I recommend avoiding those whenever possible if your goal is a set of slimmer-looking arms.
Heels elongate women’s legs, making them look fabulous. Closed-toed heels in particular look great on camera because they carry out the line of your leg all the way down to your toe. If your toes are showing in a peep-toe heel, you might want to schedule a pedicure before your session so you don’t regret letting your feet show. These little tricks make all the difference!
Quick Tip: 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!
baby on the way?
If you’re an expecting mother, we always recommend floor-length gowns or maxi dresses that are form fitting to show off the bump. These dresses create the best silhouettes to flatter your figure and really highlight your bump.
make a statement
Pairing an accessory or two with your outfit can really help bring some extra dimension to your images, and be a nice tie-in when you’re coordinating with a group. Big statement necklaces bring a lot of pop to the photos, while the smaller, delicate ones are not as noticeable on camera.
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.
hair & makeup
If you find it within your budget, I highly recommend having your hair and makeup professionally done for your photo session. 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. It also removes the stress of getting ready on your own.
Tip: Scheduling an engagement session? Book your hair/makeup trial earlier in the day. This will give you an opportunity to experiment and see how your look will photograph before your wedding day. If you are applying your own makeup, I suggest putting on a little more than you typically would wear. It might feel a little silly, but it will look great in your photos! An extra coat of mascara, some foundation and blush can go a long way in making your photos look full of life!
skip the spray tan
Although it might seem counter-intuitive, I 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.
show off the ring
I will always try to get a shot of the ring on its own and on your hand during your engagement session. To make your ring really sparkle in photos, have it professionally cleaned or use appropriate jewelry cleaner before your session.
s t y l i n g t i p s
the best fit
Long, fitted pants and closed-toed 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, sandals and jeans at home, too, as well as any pants that are loose or baggy. Fitted dress pants or fitted colored pants work best on camera. Solid shades of gray or navy are a strong compliment to most women’s outfits, whereas pinstripes or plaid patterns tend to distract the eye. I also recommend staying away from graphics and logos.
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 me when I say that it’s worth an hour or two of discomfort for photos that will last you both a lifetime. Adding another layer will bring extra dimension and visual interest to your photos. Blazers, vests and coats up the level of any look. If the temperature permits, he could even consider adding a v-neck sweater with a pop of color from a long-sleeved collared shirt and tie underneath. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative with layers!
mix it up
Many of my guys love to mix a suit coat, blazer or sport coat with a different pant color. It adds some extra visual interest, and breaks up the color tones. I’m a big fan of this fresh take on a timeless classic.
it’s all in the details
Brown leather dress shoes compliment almost every look, whether he’s wearing a full suit or a blazer and colored pants. Ties, bowties, pocket squares, colored socks, belts, tie clips, suspenders, vests and watches are sharp compliments to any outfit for men and boys alike. If you bring two outfits to the session, you can start with a traditional necktie and belt, then switch to suspenders and a bow tie for your second look. If two looks are too stressful, no problem! One will do the trick! You can still mix and match accessories to compliment both of her dresses without doing a full change during the session. So, either way, it's a win.
how to prep your man
Most men aren’t overly excited to take photos for one to 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 educate and empower your guy. Tell him why you chose me and my style of photography. Show him your three favorite images that I’ve taken, explain why you love them and express to him how much it means to you. Trust me, once he knows it’s important, he’ll light up the camera for you! The most common thing I 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 I’m done, though, they can’t believe how fast it went and just how much fun they had!
frequently asked questions
what if we don’t know what to do in front of the camera?
During a portrait session, I will absolutely help guide you into poses. My only expectation for you is that you come open to ideas, and are ready to have fun, laugh, and snuggle in front of my camera! While I will give you direction throughout the session, I like to let you fall into a version of the pose that is comfortable for you and keep it fun! There will also be plenty of times when I will let you do your thing, and capture your natural interactions. I may ask you to move, walk, and fake laugh- which coincidently always results in real laughter!
how will you edit my pictures?
My editing style is film inspired. I love the timeless look and work hard to replicate that look while shooting digitally. My editing does NOT include extensive editing such as “photoshopping” you to change the color of something, or alter your size or shape. If there is something specific that you would like changed in an image, it can be processed by a retoucher for an additional fee.
can we have the raw/ unedited images too?
Simply, No. After your session, I spend time going through the pictures and sorting them. At this time, I sort out the pictures that have eyes closed, misfires, pictures where people walked in front of the camera, and pictures that for whatever reason do not meet my very high standards or my photographic style. These files are discarded. While I will never hold good pictures hostage from you, my job is to curate the most beautiful way to tell your story. I also spend time editing to make my pictures look a certain way. Just as I hate leaving the house without makeup, I will not release my images without a little editing.
how will i receive my images? can i have my pictures on a usb?
Your images will be delivered electronically via an online gallery. The gallery is password protected so any person looking to access the images must have the secured password. This is the quickest way for me to get the images to you. As soon as I finish editing I can load the images to the gallery and send you the link and password. Even if it is at 2 am! No need to wait for items to be shipped and delivered. It also allows you to share your images with guests, friends, and family. From your gallery, you can download all the images directly to your computer. You can save them to a hard drive, USB or CD on your own. However, if you would like a USB of your images made by Jennifer Lam Photography, you can purchase it a' la carte.
when will we receive our images?
Your full gallery will be available within 3 weeks from your event. Rush delivery is available for an additional charge which guarantees your images are delivered within just 3 days!
can i print my pictures on my own?
Absolutely. While it is recommended that you have your images professionally printed through your gallery, you are welcome to have prints made on your own through a lab of your choice.
how do we book a session with you?
To book your session and reserve your date I require a signed contract and a 50% non-refundable retainer.
If you have any additional questions- please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org