Portrait Photos – My Photographic Process

I love holding portrait sessions! The perfect portrait session can make a huge difference in someone’s life. I recently was a part of a portrait session for my step-mother’s father (my step-grandfather?) who had a life-threatening disease. The portrait session produced photos of his children and grandchildren (and one step-grandchild?). He was so happy to receive it, and it is truly a testament to the photography profession that something so seemingly small can impact a person and a family in so many ways.

Knowing how important it is to folks to get the exact right pictures during their session, I definitely have developed a process for shooting family portraits/couples’ portraits/etc. Keep reading to find out how I prepare and successfully hold a portrait session!


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  1. Identify your client’s needs! This is the most important step in this whole process (which is why it’s first). It’s vital to understand exactly what vision your client has for their portraits and for what the portraits will be used. Is this a couple’s session that highlights their road to love? Is it a family session that will hang on their wall for years to come to remind them of their children as toddlers? What is this for and where will it go?
  2. Pick the perfect location and time of day! Your clients may have some locations in mind, and you definitely should take into account their wants.

    IMG_0235 editedHowever, you’re the expert! Use your knowledge of photography and location scouting to help them identify places that meet their needs and match their style while ensuring successful photos. For example, if they suggest photographing in a park during mid-day, you should express to them that mid-day is when the sun is at its highest; this can be a not-so-flattering time of the day lighting-wise, but you can suggest that they maybe photograph in the park at dusk during golden hour!

  3. Prepare your tools! You all know that I love iPhone photography. I recently purchased an iPhone XS Max, and the camera quality on this thing is amazing! However, even if you know how to successfully capture meaningful photos on your smartphone, you’ll still want to make sure you have all of the accessories you could possibly need during your session to enhance those photos. Grab your tripod and phone mount, your Bluetooth shutter, and your attachable lenses. You can also bring any other helpful tools you can think of! For example, if you know your clients may want different effects in their photos (like various light shapes), an easy way to do this is with a piece of paper that has a cut-out of the shape in the center of it so you can attach it to your lens. It works wonders!
  4. Get to the location ahead of time and brainstorm different poses in different spots! It is so helpful to be prepared with these ideas before your clients get to the location so that you can get rolling with these portraits as soon as possible. That way, you’re not wasting anyone’s valuable time!IMG_0265 edited
  5. Start photographing! Okay – your clients are here in their Sunday best, and you’ve got all of your equipment together prepared with locations/poses mapped out. So start photographing already! Be sure to take multiple shots of each pose so that you can edit them later and have the best possible shot available. Be sure to let your clients know when certain poses or smiles aren’t working, and brainstorm new ones with them. It makes a world of difference when you allow your clients to be a part of the photographing process!


Well, there you have it! That’s basically what I do before and during a portrait session to make sure I’m doing my absolute best for my clients. Do you have any other tips for folks looking to hold their own portrait session? Write them in the comments below!

P.S. My discounted portrait sessions are still happening! I’m offering a 40% off of all portrait sessions until the end of February! Call/text/email me for more information!

Published by Sierra Grayson

I am a freelance photographer based out of Delaware. I specialize in all kinds of photography - you name it, I can capture it (to a socially-acceptable point, of course).

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