Preparation Advice

Shortly you'll be having a portrait session with me, and this page has been provided to help you prepare, by offering some advice and suggestions.

Make up & hair

People favour the wearing of make up to greater or lesser degrees. This can range from a lot, right through to none. In terms of photography, the important point here is that a camera does not record the world in the same way as the human eye and brain. What we see as attractive, complimentary and subtle, the camera often records as overly bright, shinny, glaring or contrasty. With this in mind, please follow the advice below.

  • it is by far the best to approach a portrait session free of make up
  • it is far easier to add make up if needed, than it is to subtract it if it is too much
  • even if you are a 'make up' person, please come to the session without make up on
  • If you feel you need make up, you can bring it and we can see if it is really needed
  • for men: it's best not to bother with make-up. If you are usually clean shaven, don't shave for a few days (or however long it takes you to get a good hunk of stubble). We can start out with a rugged look and then progress to a cleaner look (if you wish)
  • for both men and women: have your hair how you like it, how you want people to see it


Everything in a portrait session is designed to focus attention on the face. The wrong clothing can be too distracting, or it can blend too easily into the background. Please consider the following.

  • avoid clothing that is overly bright, complexly patterned or too busy
  • plain and simple, in both design and pattern, tends to be best
  • avoid visible brand names - this is really important, as they are highly distracting and, deepening on your intended use, can also introduce copyright or endorsement issues 
  • avoid pure / bright white, as highlights can blow out and / or it can blend into the background
  • for a standard two hour portrait session, anywhere from two to four 'looks' are usually possible, so bring about three or four changes of clothing, along with what you are wearing
  • if doing both more formal and more casual looks, wear your causal clothes and bring the more formal or delicate clothing in a travel bag
  • you need clothing that looks good from several angles and that you can move in relatively freely
  • really though, portraits are about you, not your clothing, and anything that inhibits movement can lead to stiff, trapped looking postures 

The main purpose of having several 'looks' is just to provide variety - so it doesn't necessarily look like all the photos were taken on the same day.


Hats, scarfs, jewellery, etc. have many photographic uses and can all look really good, especially if colour and style coordinated. If you have any such accessories you'd like to bring, please do. We can see how they work out. 


Making portraits is a dance, and as it has often been said, it takes two to tango.

However, we'll start off with a waltz, so I'll lead.

As we progress, and as we relax to the rhythm, we'll move into something more complex and adventurous - the tango. Here it will take both of us, and in effect, we'll both have our own chances to solo. To prepare for this stage, there are some things you can do at home before a session.

  • practise pulling faces and posing oddly in front of the mirror - get used to doing things that feel physically odd and that make you feel self conscious - especially, try jutting your whole head forward at the mirror. Don't try to look good, just be silly - try for exagerated emotions like happiness, anger, joy, confusion, etc. 
  • don't worry though, we won't be taking photographs of you doing this - it's just to help you relax and get used the idea of being in control of your facial muscles / body angles
  • do the above once more, but now pay attention to what you think makes you look good. It's important that you know what you think looks good for you and that you can communicate this to me
  • look through magazines and consciously think about how people pose and where they place their hands and feet. Mimic this. Bringing your own researched ideas to a session really helps
  • tell your friends and family about what you are doing and then pose in front of them. Ask their advice - don't feel shy about this, it's surprising how often they get into it and try to help you out
  • if you wish to, find music that you really like and that makes you relaxed and feel free, and get it ready to bring - have it ready to play or load up a USB drive with iTunes compatible files to bring with you

Bringing friends / support

By all means, bring or have present a friend or family member for support. It's totally fine.

However, while actually taking photos, I will usually ask these people to remain just outside of eyesight and to remain quiet (other side of an open door, reading with their back to us, etc.). Some clients start to feel self-conscious or even to worry that they appear vain when friends or family watch, and this can lead to them becoming very stiff. Also, some people just can't help themselves and will try to offer advice and even, on occasion, to direct me. Remember, this is our dance - there's no cutting in.

Please make sure that anyone that you have as support understands the above and that they also know that I never, ever, without exception, take photos of them, neither by themselves nor with the client - not even a "quick snap together to remember the occasion." Sorry.