Trick # 5 : The Planning Session

5. Attend a planning session. I’ll describe what a planning session is actually like so that you’ll know what to expect. – 10 Tricks

A great deal of anxiety around professional portraits comes from the unknown and the feeling of being out of control, that someone else will be telling you to do things that make you feel uncomfortable. (I don’t mean something as radical as taking off your clothes, I mean looking cheesy or awkward.) The planning session is the beginning of a collaboration between artist and subject where you start to shape the end result. This empowerment takes away a measure of the risk and usually replaces that anxiety with anticipation.

Some portrait photographers have a planning session and some don’t. If yours doesn’t offer one, you can suggest it. It is generally a complimentary service because at the end of the day both of you are more comfortable and happy.

Here’s what mine look like:

1. We chat online or on the phone (text or voices) and choose a place to meet. My studio is mobile and so am I. I have relationships with a couple of coffeehouses that are happy to go the extra mile, where the atmosphere is comfortable and we can sit for a spell without people giving us the “go-away-eye”.

2. Before we even start talking about the portrait session I will want to know about you. What do you love? I don’t have a list of questions. I listen. I watch. While you talk about things, causes, work, places and people that you love I listen, watch and ask questions.

3. I will have a portfolio book with me if you are interested and I can tell you a bit about myself or my training, etc. but generally I don’t. Usually you have vetted me before our meeting by reading references or the “Hullo” section of this website. Since nothing is hidden, you already know the price but you might want to make some sort of alternate payment arrangements such as paying a little bit every month.

4. Finally, we will talk about the session itself. I will pull out a sketchbook and make a rough sketch of what I imagine for you. If you have a firm idea on what you would like to try, I will sketch that. One the paper will be details such as props, lighting, location, wardrobe. And a list of what you will do and what I will do. This looks like: you – make appointment with makeup artist, make appointment for hair, find old hat with the feathers / me – book location, arrange lighting, book assistant

5. The last thing that happens is a followup email with all the details as I understand them. You can correct me wherever I misunderstood.

The best things about the planning session is that it creates a blueprint for the portrait session and it creates familiarity. When we meet for the session it actually feels like meeting a friend and working together on an art project. Now we are collaborators!

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