Planning Your Shoot: Props to Places to Poses

We have several engagement sessions coming up and the question always looms: how can a couple or a family make their portraits unique/creative/fun/stylish/ and suited to their personalities? We decided to write a dedicated post to address a lot of the questions you might have and give you some insight into advocating for your best shoot. Of course, we are always here and eager to help advise you through the process, but these are the major elements to consider when thinking about your session.

1.    Mood.
First, let’s address the most important element of a good photo: mood. The critical thing that only you can bring to the shoot is emotion. So, it’s best to approach portraits with a relaxed attitude and do your best to make sure everyone being photographed is alert and happy. If your child is most cheerful in the morning-then let’s book in the morning. If your fiancé is most comfortable in jeans, it may be wise to forgo the pinstripe suit and cuff links…at least until the wedding day. A great photographer can work in almost any element and capture a fantastic moment, but it’s much harder to overcome a cranky child or the stiff smile of an uncomfortable outfit.

2.    Posed vs. Candid
Many people go into the photo shoot thinking about a specific pose they want. But more often than not, their favorite shot is a candid moment: laughing, hugging, leaping, etc. By all means, use posed shots as a springboard, but don’t forget to engage with each other. A good photographer will always be snapping shots and you will be giving us a wealth of opportunity to capture your family in its element.

3.    Props and Place=Personality
Props and the place you choose to shoot are elements you bring into the photograph to represent your personality. If you’re whimsical, prancing around with balloons is going to look amazing. Some people like to write on chalkboard signs. Some people like to draw their “Save the Date” in the sand.

My friend Brandon proposed with cupcakes, with the Capitol as a backdrop. All of these shoots turned out amazing because the couples ran with their personalities, whether on the beach or carved into icing.



4.    Outfits
There are a few good rules for outfits. Layers are a great way to build a tailored and flattering look that gives depth to the photo.

Texture will have the same effect, like these adorable ruffles and that knit sweater against the leaves.

And color is also important-look at how great Sara’s bright jacket looks against the gray sky. And Lindsey found great ways to work in bold jewel tones, as layers and props!


Finally, an unexpected accessory is always fun, like Lisa’s rockin’ animal print heels in an otherwise stately environment.


5.    Themes.
Finally, let’s talk about themes, which are the totality of the above elements. Themes can range from classic to silly to extravagantly creative. But, it should always be enhancing, not dominating. And to determine that, consider whether the idea feels contrived, or instead tells the story of YOU! For example, the spring theme of cherry and or other blossoms is not only stunning, but uniquely represents you as a couple living in DC.

Or, if you have a funny bone, running around with your table numbers encapsulates your quirky love.

These days, you’ll start to see more and more couples really commit to telling a hilarious story, like zombie-killing lovers or bears in wonderland. And for a photographer, it’s inspiring to try something wacky or new, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Hopefully this helps you plan for your best shoot. Our best shoots are always with happy clients, so remember: that’s our priority! If you have additional questions or think we missed something, let us know in the comments section and we’ll answer swiftly and with all the sage insight we can muster.

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