I am so excited to be working with you and I can’t wait for our time together during your portrait session! It’s normal to be a little nervous about your session. I still get nervous before having my own photos taken - and I do this for a living!

Whether I'm capturing your sweet family, or celebrating a special moment in your life, like an engagement, anniversary or new baby, I'm so honored to help you create memories you’ll cherish for a lifetime. I've created this guide to help you get the most out of your photos, and by the time you’ve read through all these tips, you'll have all your questions answered and feel more than ready and prepared for your session. Then, I’ll take care of the rest! Your only job is to be yourself, laugh a lot and let me create photos you’ll love forever. I can’t wait to get you in front of my camera!

Oh, do I love natural light! I believe that natural light from the sun and its reflections creates photographs that feel fresh and timeless! Session typically last about an hour to an hour and a half. I begin all outdoor portrait sessions two hours before the scheduled sunset during "golden hour" when the light is the dreamiest and we can avoid harsh shadows and bright sun patches.

Since we'll schedule our session during the best light of the day, it's super important to be on time! We’re only able to shoot when natural light is still in the sky, so we’ll want to take advantage of every minute we have together before the sun goes down.

If you’re wearing two outfits (not recommended for family portraits), save your favorite one for the second half. If you are planning on wearing one outfit, you should arrive wearing it.

SELECTING YOUR SESSION TIME & DATE

While I shoot most of our portrait sessions between March and late November, sessions can take place all year. Many of my clients choose a season based on the location where they want to shoot. 

A few things to keep in mind during each season:

SEASONS

snowfall, hot cocoa and cozy coats

If you’re planning to take your portraits during the winter, keep in mind that if your session takes place in the evening, we could begin shooting as early as 2:30pm to catch the sunset. We recommend dressing in layers so that in between photos you can warm up. I encourage clients with winter portrait sessions to consider an urban location or even studio sessions, since parks & nature areas are usually more brown than green. Make sure you bring a little extra makeup and tissues in case your nose begins running!

winter

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fresh flowers and sunny days

Spring portrait sessions might just be my favorite! Fresh buds, blooming trees, lovely weather, and new growth make natural settings especially beautiful this time of year. Since April is typically rainier than most months, we'll keep an eye on the weather and schedule a backup date if necessary! If you have allergies, be sure to take something to help out before our session, since pollen is typically high in Dallas during the spring months!

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warm weather & late sunsets

In spite of the heat, I'm a big fan of summer sessions! Because of the later sunset, sessions sometimes begin as late as 6:30pm. If you’re taking your portrait session during the summer, I recommend bringing extra makeup and a few towels to make sure you stay fresh throughout your session. Plus, don't forget water so that you can stay hydrated in the Texas heat!

SUMMER

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autumn leaves & cozy snuggles

Fall is one of the prettiest times of the year - the beautiful weather and changing leaves make it one of the most popular times for portraits! It's perfect weather for dressing in layers (which photograph so beautifully!), and it can be cozy to incorporate props like coffee cups and snuggly blankets!

FALL

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The location of your portrait session is up to you! Like you see throughout my portfolio, many of my clients choose a natural location, a studio space, or a lifestyle session in the comfort of their own home! For most of our sessions, outdoor, open-air environments are a good fit. I love shooting in wide-open natural spaces because the light is divine, especially during golden hour. In-home lifestyle sessions are great for newborns, and if you have great light in your home, it might be perfect for your full family session, too! Studio spaces give us the option of shooting during any time of year and in any weather, and they always give a timeless feel!

SELECTING THE RIGHT LOCATION

Give yourself some grace... your home does not have to be straight out of an HGTV magazine to have an in-home session! When I arrive at your home, I'll do a quick walk-through to see where the best natural light is.

Typically, we'll be in your bedroom, living room, and nursery. I suggest tidying up, making sure your bed is made and bedside tables are free of personal items, and that your baby's nursery is decorated the way you like it—I always love capturing a your baby's room, so that you have those sweet memories captured!

While most of my portrait sessions happen in the DFW area, I've photographed sessions everywhere from Colorado to Michigan to Mexico! If you have a location in mind, let me know - if our schedules align, I might be able to take your  photos outside of my normal area. 

Travel fees may apply depending on the location and our availability.

I love when clients choose to incorporate pets into their session. Keep in mind that bringing a pet along often means that we’ll need to choose a pet friendly location!

I recommend planning for your pet to be at the first part of your session and then having a friend take them home. I won’t use the pet in every single photo so it’s also nice to have a friend available to hold him or her in between shots.

If you’re going to bring a pet, I recommend exercising your pet before the session and bringing your pet's favorite toy or treats! Depending on your pet’s fur type, it might also be a good idea to groom them before the shoot. 

PETS

I recommend selecting softer, lighter tones and avoiding ultra-bright, bold colors. The camera loves shades of soft pink and muted blues, mixed with sophisticated light neutrals like heather gray, creams, leather brown and white. Feel free to vary the shades of the colors, too. That softer color palette fits beautifully into a natural environment, and can easily be paired in so many different ways.

When choosing your outfits, I recommend keeping in mind the word “complement” rather than “match.” For example, if mom is wearing a blush dress, soft blue earrings and nude heels (blush being her dominant color), then dad could wear a navy coat with a white button-down and gray pants, paired with brown leather shoes (making navy his dominant color). Your daughter could wear a soft blue top with a white tulle skirt (making a soft blue her dominant color) while your son wears light beige pants with navy suspenders and a white button down (making white his dominant color). Now each person has their own dominant color while still incorporating a few touches of the others that will pull all the looks together. This will break up the color visually and highlight each personality. Most of my moms choose their dress first, and then build the rest of the family’s outfits based around that.

OUTFITS

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Dresses and skirts look most stunning because they really flatter every female body, especially on camera — which is probably why the red carpet is always full of so many dresses and not very many pantsuits! I recommend avoiding pants and shorts for your session, and saying yes to a dress instead! Remember: There is no such thing as “too dressed up” when it comes to your portrait session, so don’t be afraid to have some fun! 

Long, full-length, flowy dresses and skirts look amazing on camera because they bring extra movement to the photos. When considering the length of your dresses or skirts, it’s also a good idea to factor in whether or not there will be little ones in your photos. If you have smaller children, I’ll likely have you sitting or crouching on the ground to interact up-close with them. Cute, shorter cocktail-length dresses photograph beautifully, but if you have little ones in your photos, a floor-length dress or skirt, or perhaps a cute midi-skirt, will make moving around with your kids much easier, and look perfect on camera, too. If you’re an expecting mother, I always recommend floor-length gowns or maxi dresses. These dresses create the best silhouettes to flatter your figure and really highlight your bump. 

ACCESSORIES

WHERE TO SHOP

HAIR & MAKEUP

MANICURE

wardrobe tips

Outfits

Heels lengthen legs but if your heels aren’t comfortable for walking, bring an extra pair of shoes to slip into in between shots!

Statement jewelry is a great way to add color or pattern to a simple dress. Lace and tulle look amazing in photographs. Belts, bracelets and earrings bring great visual interest, so choose one or two that don’t compete for attention. Fresh florals in a crown can be a really romantic touch for you or your girls as well. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, I recommend that you do not get a spray tan before your session, even a few days prior, because it tends to photograph orange even when it’s applied subtly and by a professional. Your actual skin tone will photograph the most beautifully and naturally.

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ACCESSORIES

WHERE TO SHOP

HAIR & MAKEUP

MANICURE

Outfits

ACCESSORIES

Professional hair and makeup is on the top of most of my clients’ checklists because it looks amazing on camera and removes the stress of getting ready on your own. This is the time to treat yourself! Whether it’s lash extensions or blown-out hair, professional hair and makeup will give you an extra boost of confidence in front of the camera, and it always photographs like a dream. Plus, it'll hold up better to wind & humidity than if you did it yourself.

If you’re working with a makeup artist, have her apply your makeup in natural light, if possible, so that it looks fresh and not too heavy. Plus, that’s the type of light we’ll be shooting in, so it’ll give you the best expectation of how it will translate on camera. Most of my clients feel like their professional makeup is “too much” at first, since it’s more than you would wear on a normal day, or that they're false lashes look too big, so if you feel that way at the beginning, don’t worry! Good makeup artists know how to get it all just right for the camera!

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ACCESSORIES

WHERE TO SHOP

HAIR & MAKEUP

MANICURE

Outfits

hair & Makeup

NEED A REFERRAL?

There will probably be times during your session when we’re shooting your hands holding, your wedding rings, or details that will show your hands! Which means it's a good excuse to get a manicure. I love neutral colors that aren't distracting!

This is also a great time to have your ring cleaned (or grab a Bling Brush and clean it yourself!).

My favorite spots to get my nails done in Dallas are Bellaucres and Hiatus Spa!

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ACCESSORIES

WHERE TO SHOP

HAIR & MAKEUP

MANICURE

Outfits

manicure

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You can’t go wrong with a suit and tie. Long, fitted pants and closed-toed shoes are the most sophisticated and masculine looks for men. They draw attention away from his legs and feet and place it where you want it: on his handsome face. So, for your session, it’s best to leave the shorts, sandals and jeans at home, too, as well as any pants that are loose or baggy. Fitted dress pants or fitted colored pants work best on camera. Solid shades of gray or navy are a strong complement to most women’s outfits, whereas pinstripes or plaid patterns tend to distract the eye. I also recommend staying away from graphics and logos.

Next time you walk by a store like J. Crew, you’ll notice the male mannequins and models are always wearing several layers at once. Layers on men look great on camera, so even when it’s hot outside, trust me when I say that it’s worth an hour or two of discomfort for photos that will last you both a lifetime. Adding another layer will bring extra dimension and visual interest to your photos. Blazers, vests and coats up the level of any look. If the temperature permits, you could even consider adding a v-neck sweater with a pop of color from a long-sleeved collared shirt and tie underneath. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative with layers!

WHERE TO SHOP

Outfits

wardrobe

The goal for coordinating a family is to visually break up the colors and shades so that you’re not all wearing the same color on top and bottom. The more we can mix that up, the better. I encourage you to think about planning each outfit with “dominant colors” and “accent colors” in mind. A dominant color is the color that you see the most in an outfit, while an accent has a smaller piece of visual real estate. When you’re planning each family member’s outfit, if you can aim for each person to have a different dominant color, and then tie in and vary the accent colors, it’s going to look great all together.

If you have multiple children, don’t feel like you need to put them all in the same type of outfit. For example, one of your daughters could wear a dress and flats, while the other wears a skirt and boots. One of your sons could wear a bowtie, while the other one wears suspenders. Mixing up the wardrobe pieces will bring a great visual interest to the photos, while the color palette keeps everything looking cohesive.

where to shop

We’ll check in the week of your engagement session to confirm the time & location we’re meeting and the weather. We know it takes a lot of time to get ready for engagement session and it’s the worst to get dressed up and drive out to your session only to have it rain. 

If it does end up looking like rain or storm clouds, we have a couple of options. We can reschedule your session (after all, you only take engagements once, so it's worth the wait!), or you can opt to book a studio space (like the Lumen Room). I recommend waiting until about 24 hours prior to your session to make the decision to reschedule, but if you have hair & makeup appointments with cancellation fees, we can make the call earlier than that.

WEATHER

Before your session, pack a bag with snacks, water and any small objects (like toys or lollipops) that might help me get their attention when it’s time for them to look at the camera. If they are old enough to understand you, it’s a good idea to prepare them for what’s to come before the session starts. Explain how much the photos mean to you so they know to be on their best behavior. A lot of families discuss and pick something fun in advance as a treat after the session if they’re good listeners, like an ice cream cone, for example. It also helps if their bellies are full and they’ve had some good rest beforehand.

Once you prepare them physically and mentally, then feel free to give them (and you!) grace! They’re little, and we know that some days don’t always go as planned. I’ve seen it all and will make sure to get you great photos, regardless of their moods. My goal is to make this as fun and stress-free as it possibly can be for you and your family!

If you’re planning to bring props to your portrait session, we recommend including them only if they’re meaningful to you. A picnic blanket where you cozy up and read a book together might be cute for a family session, or a champagne toast for an anniversary shoot would be a perfect fit!

props

When it comes to posing for your portrait session, you don’t need to worry about a thing! I’ll guide you through the entire process beginning with “poses” that are super easy and natural. If I tell you to do something that feels a little funny, it’s probably because I know it’s going to make you laugh - and that’s the photo I'm actually looking for. My goal is to always capture you and your family just the way you are - with candid giggles and authentic moments that capture your relationships with each other. So relax, and trust me - I've got you!

Throughout your session, I'll keep an eye on your hair, makeup and outfits to make sure things stay in place. I want you to feel as relaxed as possible and enjoy our time together! 

POSING

I know that I just gave you a lot to think about. I created this guide to help make your portrait session experience something you’ll look back fondly on for years and years to come. At the end of the day, though, the location you choose and the outfits you select won’t matter nearly as much as the memories you make together. Your future memories are the most important thing to us, and we want your session to be a time for you to just be yourselves and enjoy it. Have fun together. Laugh a lot. And I’ll take care of the rest!

Within one week, you'll have a sneak peek from our session! Your full gallery will be delivered via email within 4-6 weeks of our session date. You'll have access to fully-edited high-resolution images from our time together!

Set Date, Time, & Location with SKP
Review Guide for Style Tips
Schedule Hair & Makeup
Choose Your Outfits


Second Outfit (not recommended for family sessions)
Touch-up Makeup
Water Bottle (for warmer sessions
Coat or Cover-Up (for colder sessions)
Snacks & small toys for little ones


Open curtains & blinds to let in natural light
Turn off lamps & overhead lights
Prep nursery, bedroom, and living room, clearing off clutter

I can't wait to see you! If you have any questions, please feel free to email me anytime at hello@samikathryn.com

Lots of Love,