How to Prepare Mentally and Physically for a Photo Session

by Laura McPherson | July 24, 2013

photo session preparation

 

Photo sessions can be stressful even if you have experience working with human subjects in posed photography. However, you can reduce the stress and increase the quality of your finished photos with proper preparation. The following tips will help you prepare for a photo session as a photographer physically and mentally, allowing you to get the great portraits you have in mind.

Mentally Preparing for a Photo Session

photo session preparation

 

Your state of mind during a photo session can set the tone for the session, which makes it important for you to undertake mental preparation ahead of time. If you are able to focus on the moment so will your models, and a comfortable model makes for a better session. Here’s what to do to make sure that you can stay in the moment.

  • Create and mark off a checklist. Before a photo session (1-2 days, a week…whatever you are comfortable with), create a checklist of all the things you need and will need to do prior to the session. Knowing exactly what remains to be done will keep your nerves from fraying. Provide a checklist to your models as well so that you know they are equally prepared.

    • Batteries
    • Memory cards
    • Reset all your camera settings to a norm you are used to (ie ISO, Shutter, Aperture, and white balance)
    • Directions
    • Clean lenses
    • Etc.

  • Talk with the subjects (Set Expectations). A photo session is a creative partnership between the photographer and his or her models. By talking to your models ahead of the shoot, you can align expectations so that everyone is satisfied with the final results creating less worry on your part. Talk about preparation, goals, and timing to put your mind at rest.

  • Think about the shots you (or the model) want. Few photographers work on the spur of the moment. Most professionals have a good idea of the exact shot they want out of a photo session, and know the angle and lighting they need to create to make the vision a reality. Take some time to think out your portraits ahead of time so that you can run the photo session appropriately.

    • Do your research
    • Scout a location
    • Think about the light

      • Time of Day
      • Extra lighting you may need?

photo session preparationPhysically Preparing for a Photo Session

Physical preparedness is as important as mental preparedness for a photo session. Never forget that as a photographer undertaking a photo session you will be moving around as much if not more than the models you are shooting, and follow these tips to prepare yourself for the exercise.

  • Don’t pull an all-nighter. A full night’s sleep is equally important to you and to your models. Do as much as you can to prepare for the photo session in advance so that you are not kept up by details the night before, and make sure that you eliminate any other possible distractions so that you can get to bed on time.

  • Eat your Wheaties. The mind is sharper when it is fed, and though you may think you are too nervous to eat, eating a well-balanced meal one or two hours before a photo session can actually help calm your nerves and keep you functioning at top speed. Be careful not to overeat and avoid heavy food to feel your best.

  • Stretch. It is not only your subjects who will be posing during your photo session. Behind the camera, you will likely be assuming poses low to the ground, bending, squatting, and generally moving around in ways that might not be familiar to your body to get the right shot. Do a full round of stretches close to the start of your session and ask your models to do the same!

Every photo session is different, which is in no small part the reason that photo sessions are stressful. By controlling what you can, you can prepare mentally and physically for every photo session you take on. Knowing that you are prepared, you can take a relaxed approach to your photo session that will show through in your work.

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