As we have already discussed, before I work with a client, I know that they want to be photographed by our studio. The staff has talked with them about the type of session they want, and they have been given detailed guidelines on how (and how not) to dress.

Before the client arrives, I select my favorite five scenes at
the location where we will be working. This is the stan- dard number of scene changes included in our outdoor sessions. I also work out the lighting needed to photograph a subject in these scenes, so we will be ready to move quickly from one spot to the next.

To start the session, I look over the clothing the client has brought with her to the session. I also look for flaws or problems that will need to be addressed in the posing. Finally, I look into the eyes of the client to see how well they reflect light, which is especially important outdoors.

If we will be doing full-length shots, I determine which outfits will look best (and check for matching shoes). I also look for which outfits will be best for the head-and-shoulders poses. I then write down the order of the clothing changes based on where each outfit will look best. That way, no time is wasted going back and forth from scene to scene or having the client change back into an outfit they have already worn. We allow each client to change twice to avoid wasting too much time (and I typically work with two clients at a time, so I’m photographing one client while the other client is changing).

Once the client has changed into to her first outfit and the lighting and cam- era position are set up, I take a few minutes to talk about how I will photo- graph her. Here’s what I say—word for word.

Before we get started, there are few things that I will explain. First off, I will do each pose for you and then I will help you into the pose. I will make sure you look perfect in every way. The hardest part of the whole thing is your expression, because that’s the one thing I can’t fix for you. Guys worry about smiling at all, girls and their mothers want “the perfect smile” or “their smile.” The aver- age person smiles 150 times a day, and when you smile like that, it’s perfect—because you are not thinking about it, you are simply re- acting to what someone has said or done. That’s what I want you to do. I would much rather you burst out laughing and let me take the portrait when it looks good, rather than worry about whether your smile is too big or too small. So if you relax and don’t think about it, you will look beautiful.