Client Guides

February 16, 2023

How to Make the Most of Your Portrait Session With Emily Alyssa Photography

how to make the most of your portrait session

How to Make the Most of Your Portrait Session With Emily Alyssa Photography

First of all, thank you for booking a portrait session. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to getting to know you and your family. Each portrait session is unique, whether this is your first time working with me or your tenth. Part of being an artist is approaching each portrait session with a creative eye. The other part is a collaborative effort – the more I can get to know you and your family, the more relaxed you’ll be in front of the camera. Here are a few tips to make the most of our time together.


1. Be sure to fill out your portrait questionnaire. This is the first and most important step. Learning about your family, your priorities for the season, and wardrobe ideas allows me to tailor your portrait experience to your needs. If you’re doing an in-home session, it’s even more important so I can plan your official start time. We start either in the late morning or early afternoon depending on which direction your windows face. Schedule time to get this done so I can address any questions early in the planning process.


2. It’s never too early to think about wardrobe. If you’re planning on borrowing a dress from the client closet, it’s best to schedule your styling meeting earlier rather than later. You’ll find the links to schedule in your confirmation email and the questionnaire. Once we know what you’ll be wearing, we can coordinate everyone else’s outfits. I can create a style board with suggestions for everyone including links you can use for shopping. If you have outfits in their closet already, we can use those pieces. Keep in mind shipping and delays when ordering any new outfits. 

wardrobe outfit ideas for family photos style board photo

3. Finalize the location ASAP. If we’re doing an outdoor session, it’s best to decide on a location as soon as you can. We sometimes adjust the session start time baed on location, and it’s important we do that ASAP. For example, some places have a high tree line causing us to lose sun early. Others have light all the way up until sunset, so I may start us a little later. Some locations also require a permit, so we will need to get that sorted out with plenty of time to spare.

Here are my favorite locations in the area:

Top Virginia Locations for Photos

Top DC Locations for Photos


4. Consider hiring a hair and / or makeup artist for your session. Not only is it nice to be pampered before your session, but it also takes away the stress of getting ready. Even when you desire a more natural look, an artist can help you accomplish that while looking polished and beautiful on camera. My clients who typically wear minimal day-to-day makeup have expressed how happy they were to have hired someone, and I do the same for our own family photos. Many artists can come directly to your home, making it even easier to get ready. Here’s a list of my favorites in the Virginia / DC / MD area.


5. Don’t forget about the little details. Schedule haircuts and coloring appointments to take place at least a few days before the session. If you want to do your nails, a neutral color photographs best. Otherwise, it’s best to remove chipped or old nail polish. It’s better to have natural nails than chipped polish. If you get your eyebrows waxed, be sure to schedule that ahead of time. These little details may seem very small, but they can make a difference in the final photos. 


6. Get everyone excited about the session ahead of time. Tell little ones how much fun you’ll have playing as a family. My photography style is laid-back and relaxed, so while I’ll give you posing guidance, there will be plenty of room to snuggle and laugh together. Sometimes these in-between moments produce unforgettable photos. If you have kids, they’ll pick up your energy leading up to the session, so it’s best to stay upbeat and relaxed as much as you can. Skip the threats, and instead approach the session with an open mind. Don’t forget to plan a fun activity or treat afterwards too! Going out for ice cream or a special dinner can make the experience even more special. 


7. Think about how you want to display your photos beforehand. While I understand the need for digital images, printing your favorite photos allows you to enjoy them the most. Whether that’s walking by framed prints on your walls each day, or keeping them in an album in your coffee table, I’m here to make this part seamless. The biggest obstacle is “putting it off” until later. When that happens, it is likely the photos will never be printed. Instead, think about what you might want beforehand. That way when you see the edited photos, you’ll be able to check it off your list right away.

Here are a few resources to get you started:

3 Ways to Print Photos

Cropping Guide & Common Print Sizes

Are Heirloom Albums Worth the Investment?


8. Download your digital images right away and immediately back them up. After purchasing your digital images and / or artwork, I’ll send a link to your personal online gallery. Inside the gallery you can view the photos, make favorites list, download them individually or as a full set, and order additional loose print if you wish. To make the most of your digital images, be sure to download them as a full set right away. Then back them up. This guide gives you step by step instructions on how to do that.

Trust me – the last thing you want is to lose the digital images to old technology as time passes. I think back to a few personal scares when I thought our own photos were potentially lost when my old laptop died. Luckily they were fine, but since then I always make sure I know where my digital images are stored (and the back-ups), and I make an effort to print the ones I can’t bear to lose. Think about how you want to view those photos in 10, 20 years, and go from there. 

Of course, if you need anything along the way, please email me at I’m here to help with anything you need! Welcome to the experience, and I hope you have a wonderful time.


Looking for more resources? I’ll be sending you a planning guide with even more info! You can also view the following specialized guides in the meantime:

What if It Rains?

How to Prepare for Your Newborn Session

Top Maternity Questions Answered

Dresses for Newborn Photos

Last-Minute Prep Tips

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