the f stops here: planning for the end result

Planning for your photography session can seem overwhelming. There are so many factors that can influence your end result and are worth consideration prior to your shoot. And while your photographer can remain fluid and flexible with respect to timing and location, and session structure, it is helpful if you - the client - considers your goals and planning points.

Your session should be relaxed and fun, but keep in mind that it is an investment, and an important one that perhaps you've been saving for. With a little bit of extra thought and planning, you can be assured you are more than satisfied (and perhaps a little amazed!) with the final results!

When planning your session, think about these 4 key "W" questions:
1. When (time of year),
2. Where (beach, city, park, meadow, home),
3. What time (time of day)
4. What to wear (casual, traditional, preppy, trendy, etc.)

While you nail down those basic planning elements, take a step back and think about what you will DO with your images.

Do you plan to:
• Create a keepsake album or coffee table book?
• Display images on your walls, and if so, to what size; will they be framed or canvases?
• Give gift prints?
• Share the images online and use in your personal photobooks and slideshows?

Once you've thought through those items, you will want to consider your family's personality, your style, and the decor of your home.
• What type of family are you (sporty, preppy, beachy, traditional, casual)?
• Which room(s) are you most likely to display your images (foyer, family room, hallway/staircase, living room, bedroom)?
• What is the style, decor and color of that area (warm, cool, formal, modern, beachy, cottage, traditional)?

Next, describe your dream images - if you could have 5 images come out of your session, what would they look like?

Armed with these answers, regroup with your photographer and communicate your vision. Together you can come up with a game plan that will ensure you are on the same page and allow your photographer to deliver the type of images you have always dreamed of having for your home.  Additionally, once you view your gallery, you are not arbitrarily looking at images, but instead selecting them with your specific goals in mind.

To make sense of this, consider viewing a gallery in two scenarios:

1. Without Session Planning: "Huh, well, I like the family ones, but they are cropped tight and you can't see the landscape and I think it will look funny over the beach house fireplace... plus, our winter, formal clothes don't match the beachy decor."

2. With Session Planning:  "Awesome, this is exactly what we wanted for the focal point wall gallery in the family room. I love it! The beach backdrop, the colors and our outfits are exactly what I had in mind when I thought of a story-telling canvas collection for above the fireplace."

Remember, it's your session. You probably don't have time (or energy) to repeat it at this exact stage in your life, so make sure that you stack the deck in your favor the first time! Your planning, preparation and communication will surely pay off and you will have personal art in your home that makes you smile every day, for years and years to come. Isn't that what custom photography is all about? We think so.

*Photographers, we recommend using the Portrait Studio Client Consult Form to keep yourself organized and provide your clients with the best service possible.

~ The F Stops Here is an exclusive collection of articles by Design Aglow, designed to be used and shared by photographers. Look for this column twice monthly here on the Design Aglow Blog and feel free to grab & share on your site, blog and/or social media pages with a byline and link to

Also in Design Aglow Blog

Photographer Spotlight: LaRae Lobdell Part 2
Photographer Spotlight: LaRae Lobdell Part 2


There were so many beautiful maternity portraits I wanted to take during my pregnancy that I soon felt overwhelmed trying to decide on just a few for one photography session, so instead made an entire Pinterest board of Maternity Shoot Inspiration that I could tackle one at a time on a weekly basis. So my suggestion is to create an inspiration mood board as your first step to a self portrait, even if it's just a one-time shoot.

Read More

Sneak Peek: Fearless Photographers
Sneak Peek: Fearless Photographers


What are you afraid of fellow creatives? Do your fears live in the external world? Say long-legged, hairy spiders? Or walking through a dark room in the middle of the night? 

Perhaps your anxieties are internal? The fear of failing at that which is most dear to you? Or the terror of living with regrets that can never be remedied?

Read More

Product Spotlight: Complete Legal Photo Booth Contract
Product Spotlight: Complete Legal Photo Booth Contract


The exceptionally detailed client-friendly Complete Legal Photo Booth Contract provides a clearly defined legal outline that protects both you and your client, by plainly expressing expectations of both parties. This comprehensive customizable contract ensures events utilizing your photo booth will always come together beautifully and without complications. The easy-to-understand terms span 6 pages and can easily be mixed and matched into a variety of combinations, making it a fully customizable contract that can be tailored to a number of specific circumstances.

Read More