40 ways to help your clients prepare for an awesome photo shoot

by Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor on June 3, 2011

in This is Art,This is Business

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Your clients are not your adversaries.

Despite how the grognards view their paying customers, and the advice they give to gifted young photographers like yourself just starting out in the business, the people you shoot and sell to are not your enemy.

In fact, it’s in your own financial interest to educate and empower your clients as fully as you can.

One way to do this is with a Client Prep Cheat Sheet.

This is a small set of general advice for clients to get the most out of their photo shoot. You don’t want to just assume that high school senior girl knows to freshen her nail polish the morning of the shoot – you don’t want to assume Dad knows to moisturize around his nose leading up to the shoot to avoid flaky, dry skin.

You can’t force your clients to perfect preparation, but you sure as heck can give them the knowledge necessary to do so. A photo shoot of any kind is no small investment for most families, so if you can give them the tools they need to make the best photos they can, you’re providing added value beyond just your artistic talents.

I talk often about creating a better experience for your customers, something you can do today, right now – no training and little to no practice necessary. Taking the time to put together a cheat sheet for clients to glean hints and tips from is another way to go beyond the ‘book, shoot, sell’ mentality of many established photographers.

What goes into your Client Prep Cheat Sheet

The best way to build your own cheat sheet for clients is to just go back through the shoots you’ve already done and identify all the shoulda’s – shoulda told her to bring hair clips for the wind, shoulda told him not to wear a shirt with a distracting print, etc.

We photographers could use a cheat sheet for our own preparations as well – and I’ll elaborate on this in a later article.

I sat down with my wife, who does all of our baby photography and has modeled for over a decade, to put together a list of suggestions and advice to share with your clients. Take what you like, toss what you don’t, and most importantly, grow and evolve your cheat sheet to address the shoulda’s you run into as you photograph more and more clients.

General Advice

  • Hair – If you’re getting a hair cut for your shoot, do so about two weeks beforehand, just in case it goes wrong – you just never know. For men, a fresh cut a couple of days before the shoot is fine.
  • Hair accessories – If you’re shooting outdoors, be ready to put your hair up and make it look nice in case of a windy day. Bring bobby pins, hair clips, headbands or any other favorite accessories.
  • Glasses – If folks wouldn’t recognize you without glasses, you want to wear glasses in your shoot – however, the glare on glasses can detract from your eyes in photos. You can have your lenses removed from your frames for your shoot (don’t worry, it’s what Hollywood does to avoid glare in movies), ask your eye doctor to loan you a pair of similar frames, or you can also visit an inexpensive company online like Zenni Optical and buy a suitable pair of duplicate frames on the cheap.
  • Red eyes – Visine is your friend. Not getting drunk the night before your shoot helps, too. [Don’t think I kid, I’ve shot plenty of hung-over clients.]
  • Lips – You will probably wipe or lick your lips during your shoot, so bring fresh lip gloss or lipstick to do touch-up. Use lip balm for a few days in advance of your shoot to make your smoochers look their best.
  • Teeth – If you want to brighten your smile, start your treatments about two weeks before your shoot.
  • Breakouts – Start using African Black Bar Soap for a week in advance of your shoot to help reduce and limit pimples and blemishes. Equally important, don’t cake on a lot of make-up to try to hide blemishes – it’s almost always easier to Photoshop away pimples than to clean up overdone make-up. For fever blisters, avoid getting them in the first place, then use Abreva if one pops up anyway.
  • Make-up – A subtle application of make-up can really soften your skin and accent your facial features. But make sure you know what you’re doing, and make sure it matches your skin tone, or your face may look orange compared to the rest of your body.
  • Facial hair – Men, be freshly shaved with a new razor, shaving cream and a moisturizing after-shave lotion to avoid bumps and redness. Trim up your board, sideburns, moustache or goatee, especially looking for wiry stray hairs. Ladies, even if you have some light facial hair (particularly around your lip or chin), indulge in a waxing in advance of your shoot – even barely-there light facial hair will be noticeable in your photos. Men and women both, pluck and clean up those eyebrows.
  • Moisturizer – Dry skin can really detract from a great photo shoot. Start moisturizing nightly a week in advance of your shoot. When you get out of the shower, dry off until lightly damp, and slather on moisturizer. Focus on your arms, shoulders, neck, face, hands, anywhere you’ll be exposed to the camera. This includes your legs if you’re shooting in shorts or a skirt. ProTip: For dry skin on your face, especially around your nose, use a sugar scrub. Mix a cup of sugar with about a quarter cup of olive oil, or just until it looks like wet sand. Scrub your face with it anywhere you have flaky skin, wash it off, then wash with soap to remove the oil. The sugar paste shouldn’t be oily, just wet enough to moisten the sugar. Also, be sure on your face to use a facial moisturizer, not a thick body moisturizer, or you could break out. [Us men, of course, are most in need of this advice, especially around the face and hands.]
  • Nails – A fresh coat of nail polish will make a world of difference in your photo shoot. Pick a neutral color that won’t distract in your shoot or clash with your outfits. Freshen the morning of the shoot, then be careful not to scuff it while prepping. [I see this most often with high school senior girls, to whom half-gone nail polish seems to be a popular fad.] Your photo shoot is a great excuse for a fresh manicure, but if you can’t go to the salon, make sure your nails look tidy and clean, including the cuticles.
  • Bloating – Ladies, avoid high salt and high fat foods for two to three days in advance of your shoot. Being bloated will sap your confidence and comfort in front of the camera.
  • Undergarments – Bra straps won’t do anything to help your outfit look its best. Be sure you bring a set of bras and strap-adjusting accessories to work with any outfit you want to shoot in to keep those straps well-hidden.
  • Sun burns and tan lines – If your shoot is booked for Saturday, don’t go to the beach on Friday. If you plan to tan before your shoot, do so at least a week beforehand and don’t get burned. Be mindful of clothing tan lines, sunglass tan lines, hat tan lines, etc.
  • Ironing – If you iron, iron the night before and then hang the clothes for your shoot. If you’re wearing something that wrinkles easily, don’t wear it in the car on the way to the shoot – just change at the location.
  • Shoes – Ladies, can’t go wrong in heels or wedges. Men, clean’em up! Dress shoes are best [or boots down here in Texas], but as with most things, let your momma or your wife decide.

Here are some specific suggestions for certain types of shoots:


  • Moisturize that belly!
  • Gather your props to bring along – ultrasound printout, alphabet blocks that spell your baby’s name, baby shoes, stuffed animals, flowers, whatever you’ve seen in other maternity photos that you like.
  • Wear whatever you feel comfortable and pretty in – long, flowy skirts, especially solids are nice, and strapless bras that coordinate with them. Tube dresses are great for showing off your shape. Bring a pair of regular jeans, not the belly panel ones. A button-up shirt also makes it easy to transition into showing your belly.
  • If you’re doing semi-nude/implied nude photos, bras and underwear will create noticable lines on your skin, so wear loose-fitting clothing to the shoot. You can add undergarments as necessary for photos later in the shoot.
  • Do bring your significant other! They’ll make a great prop for your photos, and greatly expand on the number of different photos you can make during your shoot. They should bring outfits that coordinate with what you’ll be wearing, or a dark long-sleeved shirt or sweater and dark pants. The focus should always be on you, your expressions, your emotions, your personality, your joy and your connection.

Newborns and Babies

  • Use a wash cloth to clean away flaky skin and eye boogers.
  • If your baby has flaky skin, cradle cap, or eczema, I can highly suggest Lil’ Outlaws Rump Rub [seeing as it’s made by my wife!]. It’s handmade, it’s vegan, it’s chemical free, I know exactly what’s in it, and it works wonderfully.
  • Trim those tiny fingernails and toenails with appropriate baby trimmers.
  • Book your shoot around your baby’s feeding and nap times, work with the natural rhythm of your baby. The perfect time to shoot is right when the baby would be laying down for a nap. If your baby normally falls asleep after a feeding, wait to feed the baby until you’re at the shoot. Baby photographers allot plenty of time for this sort of thing to set up the best situation for great photos.
  • Dress up paper diapers. Cloth diapers are classy and stylish, but if you don’t use them, bring bloomers or decorative diaper covers, solids preferred.
  • Nothing is the best wardrobe for a newborn – no outfit fits a newborn well, and they often look swallowed in clothes. Accessories are good, though – little hats, dainty headbands, boys in crocheted hats, etc. Bring sentimental items like the quilt that Grandma made for the baby, a baby blanket from your own childhood – they’re great for the youngster to lay on.
  • If your baby takes a pacifier, bring it – if they’re bottle fed, bring an extra bottle to help put the baby to sleep.


  • Clean, clean, clean – clean nails, clean hair, wipe away eye boogers, clean feet (sandals on kids = black feet!), wipe snotty noses, fresh-scrub teeth. The cleaner the kid, the better their photos will turn out.
  • If your child is still in diapers or pull-ups, tuck’em in or wear bloomers.
  • If your child is still of napping age, make sure they nap before the shoot.
  • It is perfectly okay to bring bribes to a photo shoot – given a stage and being the center of attention, it’s like our kids know exactly when to act their worst. Some cereal, smarties or other candy that won’t stain teeth can help a short photo shoot go by smoothly.
  • Avoid colorful drinks or lollypops within 24 hours of your shoot, don’t let them eat or drink anything that will stain their face, teeth or mouths.
  • Wardrobe – For girls, you can’t go wrong with cute dresses, rompers, and dainty hats or headbands. For boys, jeans and polos or a button-up shirt, or a T-shirt with a button-up over it can be very cute, as well as overalls on the right age and personality. For siblings, the children don’t have to match perfectly, just coordinate. You can’t go wrong with dark, rich monotones, which drive the attention in photos to sweet faces and darling expressions instead of loud prints or colors. If nothing else, pick a color that compliments your child’s eye color.


  • Dad – Have a fresh shave or trim, and use a new razor with shaving cream and a moisturizing after-shave lotion to limit bumps and redness. Make sure nails are clean and trimmed. Wash your hands. Clean up your shoes. Moisturize and scrub away flaky facial skin (see above General advice). When you wash your face, pay attention to eye boogers and sleep crusties. For wardrobe, go for jeans or pants, tucked polo or dress shirt with a belt, or go casual with just a T-shirt or untucked polo, button-up short sleeve, etc. In general, whatever your wife tells you to wear. Again you don’t have to perfectly match the rest of the family, just wear something that coordinates.
  • Mom – Women know what to wear, but in general, unless you are extremely thin you may want to wear something that covers your upper-arms. Long- or 3/4-sleeve tops are very flattering. If you wear jewelry, aim for subtlety, and be aware of it twisting or turning.
  • Kids – Same advice as above, but again, everything needn’t match, simply coordinate with the parents’ outfits. If Dad’s in a T-shirt, don’t put the kids in dress shirts – make it make sense.

High school seniors

  • The biggest tips for seniors are to have an even tan, don’t get sunburned, clean and freshly-paint those nails, and moisturize and scrub away dry skin.
  • Bring a variety of outfits – cap and gown, something casual, something stylish, ladies slip a dress in there to throw folks off, fellas try a formal look to impress. Wear what you think you look best in, but take the opportunity to also try a new look, just to surprise folks.
  • Bring props that recall your high school years – band instrument, sports gear like a volleyball or baseball bat, your beloved (or cursed) high school car, letter jacket, sunglasses. Most of all, rep your style, whatever that may be. Your senior photo should be unique to your life and personality.

As they say, an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure any day. Just as you educate your clients about copyright during your sales session, you can empower your clients by educating them how best to prepare for their photo shoot with you.

Again, there is no hard and fast set of advice you should share with clients. Use this Client Prep Cheat Sheet as a foundation for your own, and sculpt it to address the issues you run into most often on shoots.

Next Steps

  • Why wait? Cut and paste the above tips into a text file or e-mail template so you can e-mail the appropriate set of information to your next photography client. Send out your Client Prep Cheat Sheet when your client books with you. Post your Cheat Sheet to your web site or blog. Educate and empower your clients to help you give them the best photos possible. Go through the list and reword, rewrite, remove, or add on anything you see fit so your Cheat Sheet is custom-built for your clientele.
  • Do a Google search and peek at other photographers’ pre-shoot client advice posted online. If you see something you like, rewrite it for your clients and include it in your own cheat sheet.
  • Brainstorm session: What are the three most common ‘mistakes’ you see your clients making when preparing (or not) for your shoots? What are the shoulda’s that your clients would most benefit from knowing? File this in your Brainstorms folder.
  • My writing at PartTimePhoto.com exists to serve your needs as an amateur photographer making the transition to paid professional. I appreciate and welcome your readership, and invite you to subscribe to my e-mail newsletter at the top of any page of this site.
  • What are your three most important prep tips for clients? Leave a comment below, e-mail me, or call or text me at 830-688-1564.

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{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

Teresa Nicole June 6, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Awesome advice! I’m a huge follower of this blog, keep the posts coming!!


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor June 6, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Thank you so much Teresa, for your kind words and for your readership! Let me know where the adventure of professional photography takes you. And if there’s anything you would like to read about here on the site, please don’t hesitate to let me know.


Shelley Zumock June 8, 2011 at 9:17 am

I am a big, big fan of your website. I am a recent graduate of AAU and I am currently in the process of trying to become a part time photographer (got lots of loans to pay off…eeks!!) I was wondering if you could give me your thoughts on joining PPA, I see that they offer lots of discounts, classes…etc. But I was wondering if it would be worth the money.
Thanks again for all the valuable, valuable information you provide!


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor June 10, 2011 at 11:50 pm

Thank you so much for your kind words Shelley, and congratulations on your recent graduation! That’s fantastic! If you can work your way into this part time photography market, it will definitely help put a dent in those student loans.

PPA and I have a very love-hate relationship. To be very, very brief, I believe they are a worthwhile organization to join if you can maintain a skeptical, independent relationship with them.

I believe they are outrageously biased toward their sponsors and vendors, toward the boutique end of the market, toward their core set of “superstar” photographers, toward pressuring photographers to spend more and more and more money to reach success…so obviously, a lot of what they “do” as an organization is the antithesis of what I believe and promote as an artist, businessman, and blogger.

If you shoot weddings, their indemnification trust is worth the price of admission. So far as I’m aware, it’s the only resource of its kind for photographers.

Their monthly magazine for photographers is fantastic for inspiration, in both art and business – there’s little to no depth (they save that for the overpriced workshops and conventions), but the inspiration is there.

If your dream is to become a high-end boutique portrait or especially wedding photographer and you have and are willing to spend a lot of money to get there, PPA is the exact course you should chart – buy into their ethos in full. With enough time and money, they’ll give you enough knowledge and certifications to become a very expensive photographer.

If your dream is to become anything else as a photographer, I can definitely suggest joining as a member, but again, remain skeptical and separate the wheat from the chaff. If you can recognize “the little man behind the curtain,” (if you’re paying attention, you’ll see how PPA is all ‘rigged’ like one big carnival midway) you will still get $20-something a month worth of inspiration and ideas from their magazine and promotions – if the inspiration you get from them helps you book and sell an extra $30 a month in photos, you’ll get more than your money’s worth.

But as always, I advise to earn that money before you spend it. If you’re not selling $30 a month in photos yet, you don’t need a PPA membership. As Dave Ramsey would advise, cash in, cash out – not the other way around.

Thank you again for your comment! Please do keep in touch and let me know how your adventure into part time photography goes! If there’s anything more I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


DeWaun Simmons July 8, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Great article once again, James! Although I am up to my gills in commercial product photography at the moment… I am always reading and re-reading your articles to absorb all of the goodness you impart! I really enjoyed the prep list. Do you mind if I use this info?


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor July 8, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Thanks so much DeWaun! It’s rarely a bad thing to be inundated with paying work – great job keeping the momentum up! You’re more than welcome to take the information and use it for your business, that’s what it’s all here for! Keep on rocking!


Aaron McDonald August 11, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Wow, excellent resource! Bookmarking this one! Thanks.


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor August 12, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Fantastic, thank you Aaron! Really enjoyed visiting your web site, you’re a multi-talented and impressive artist! Alabama is lucky to have you to work with, the passion you have for your work is evident in every piece. It was a real pleasure tonight to see your good work. I truly appreciate your comment and readership!


Witteveen Photography Nina August 12, 2011 at 5:41 pm

This is so awesome, thank you so much for sharing.. This will so help in preparing clients for their sessions. 🙂


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor August 12, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Thank you so much Nina! Enjoyed visiting your site, that baby in the bow shot is priceless – you have a lovely and unique style. Thank you for your readership!


Rebecca September 5, 2011 at 9:10 am

Wow, you are a life saver! Thank you so much for this comprehensive list. I now officially love you guys!


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor September 9, 2011 at 11:05 pm

Absolutely my pleasure Rebecca, thank you for your readership!


DeWaun Simmons September 9, 2011 at 11:07 pm

It’s a great list… kind of a menu, of sorts, to pick “a la carte” what you want to send.

Yep, I’m copying/editing/tweaking the list for a corporate photo session at my chiropractor’s office, next Tuesday, AM.

🙂 Can you say… “trade for service!” 🙂


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor September 15, 2011 at 12:19 am

Good call DeWaun! Especially with small businesses, it can be hard to convince them they need to pay for professional photography. But often, they’ll bite on a trade for services. Chiropractors, hair stylists, massage therapists, lots of great options to earn benefits from a market that might otherwise be uninterested in photography services.

Let us know how the shoot turned out!


Lindsay November 7, 2011 at 8:42 am

Thank you! I found this so helpful.


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor November 17, 2011 at 10:07 pm

My pleasure Lindsay, thank you for your readership!


Natarsha December 31, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Fabulous insight thank you so much for sharing!!!


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor January 3, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Thank you so much Natarsha, my pleasure! Please do keep me posted on your adventures!


Amber April 3, 2012 at 6:39 pm

Thank you for the information. It is wonderful when other photographers share their knowledge….so very kind of you.
So appreciated!


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor April 29, 2012 at 7:46 pm

You are most welcome Miss Amber, thank you for your kind words! I greatly enjoyed visiting your site tonight, you have a beautiful portfolio. Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures this year!


chris April 20, 2012 at 12:57 am

Going part time pro and I’ve got my first real two shoots this weekend (senior portrait and engagement pics) – this site has been a great help.


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor April 29, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Thank you so much Chris, I’m glad this site has been a help to you! I greatly enjoyed visiting your site and enjoying your work tonight – you make beautiful portraits, such a beautiful grasp of light, backgrounds, and color. Just gorgeous work. Keep it up! If there’s anything more I can do, please don’t hesitate to contact me – and please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!


sarena crowe May 24, 2012 at 9:26 pm

This list saved my life.

I get asked all the time “what if my hair…?” “what if..what if..what if…?”

Sometimes it’s just hard to think of all these things and compile a list and then I found this!

I used it on my website under information>general advice and gave you a shout out. 🙂

Thanks again!


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor August 12, 2012 at 7:01 pm

That’s awesome Sarena, thank you for the shout-out! I greatly enjoyed visiting your web site, and please don’t think I’m just speaking flattery, but your art is absolutely amazing. I was inspired by every single photo – you are doing awesome work that is creative, totally fresh, and obviously infused deeply with your own style. I love it. I truly, absolutely love it, and I’m honored by your kind words and readership. Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures! And if there’s anything more I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to contact me!


Sarena August 15, 2012 at 1:28 am

Thank you so much for your reply. I’m so glad you like my photos! They’re constantly evolving into something much better so hopefully one day I’ll inspire myself. 😉

One family, in particular, I shot with recently used that guide like a Bible. They practically worship the ground you walk on now. Haha. They bought the african black bar soap and everything!!

I’ll keep you updated! 🙂


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor October 8, 2012 at 10:23 pm

You are most welcome Sarena! I’ve enjoyed keeping up with your latest photos and the growth of your business via Facebook. You are doing beautiful work for your clients!

That African Black bar soap works great! I’ve recommended it to many friends, especially parents with teenaged kids.

Please do keep me posted on your progress! I look forward to hearing your stories!


Lee August 11, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Hi! I’m 13 and getting some portfolio pictures taken tomorrow. Is there anything I should do on the day of?


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor August 12, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Thank you for your readership Lee! I’d follow the above suggestions, specifically: don’t get sunburned, scrub and moisturize to make sure you don’t have dry skin flaking on your face, shave if you need to, bring a few options for clothing, and 100% more important than everything else combined: have fun. 🙂


Amy Barker September 18, 2012 at 8:36 am

Sometimes it’s not feasable to take lenses out of glasses, like me for example, without my glasses my left eye turns in towards my nose, so that would look very stupid in photos. Just some food for thought. Otherwise it’s a great article! I think that one should always learn how to reduce glare in glasses, since there’s always going to be people who cannot remove the glass from the frames 😉


Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor November 29, 2014 at 7:51 pm

Thank you so much for your comment Amy!

I understand the challenge of getting lenses in and out of glasses. A cheap pair of cheaters from the drug store can serve the purpose.

And as always it’s a great excuse for a practice shoot with a bespectacled friend to get a feel for what posing helps in what lighting situations to reduce or eliminate glare. Hard to beat hands-on experience for confidently taking on challenging posing situations!

Thank you again for your readership Amy! and please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!


Rachelle with Sunshine Photography by Rachelle October 18, 2012 at 8:27 pm

I just stumbled across your website today and I wanted to thank you for the abundance of information, tips, tricks, and suggestions. I absolutley love this post!! I already had a “reminders list” for clients; however, i found it particlularly clever to call it a “client cheat sheet” and you had a lot of great suggestions that I had never even thought to include in the document!! Thanks again, and I look forward to browsing your blog for more business inspiration.


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor December 30, 2012 at 11:20 pm

Thank you for your kind words and readership Rachelle! I enjoyed visiting your web site this evening and admiring your portfolio, you have a unique and lovely style!

Never be afraid to make your business fun for your clients. Sometimes just the wording you use in describing your products and processes can make a huge difference in how your clients perceive you. Always try to differentiate yourself from the stodgy old guard photographers – show folks why you’re the better, more fun, more artistic, more exciting choice!

Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures in 2013!


Ana October 21, 2012 at 10:27 am

Great post. I will certainly create a Client Prep Cheat Sheet and add it as a PDF to my website. I will also add a few points because as I live in the tropics a lot of my family portraits are taken on the beach (sand, water, etc).


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor December 30, 2012 at 11:20 pm

Thank you for your readership Ana! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures this year!


Kerry November 3, 2012 at 11:16 pm

Thank you for this post and permission to use bits and pieces! Just came across your blog and looking forward to following!


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor December 30, 2012 at 11:25 pm

You are most welcome Kerry, thank you for your readership! I greatly enjoyed looking at your web site this evening (although I couldn’t get several of the links working on my end!) – you have a great, warm artistic style! Keep up the awesome work, and please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures in 2013!


Red November 25, 2012 at 5:20 pm

This is great. I was just about to send you an email to ask if I could use some of this information to create a downloadable PDF for my future clients, and your article not only says it’s ok but also points to other sites to get more ideas. Thanks for the tips…..


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor December 30, 2012 at 11:55 pm

You are most welcome Red! Thank you for your comment and readership!


Martial Comeau November 27, 2012 at 1:06 pm

As usual, very informative and practical post. Something I would add is to recommend ladies to shave their legs before the shoot if they gonna be bared legged. Hair and backligthing don’t go well together!


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor December 30, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Thank you for your comment and kind words Martial! I greatly enjoyed visiting your portfolio tonight, you do wonderful work!

Amen to keeping legs shaved for a shoot! I love shooting with backlighting as well, and it can be very unflattering if there are a thousand little hairs catching that light!


Lisa February 27, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Awesome list. Thank you so much!

I wanted to add: don’t forget feet – not just for the kids. Multiple times the occasion has presented itself during a shoot to photograph adults barefoot and, unfortunately, their feet were dry, crusty or had broken (and too long!) toe-nails. So, clean them, take a pumice stone to those flakes, moisterize and make your footsies as nice and neat as your hands.


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor March 11, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Great tips, Lisa!

My wife loves to do the Mommy, Baby, Daddy feet photos during her newborn sessions.


Lisa February 27, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Oh, and is the Rump Rub for diaper rash or does it work for older kids with Eczema?


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor March 11, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Both! My wife’s clients have sung the praises of Rump Rub for all manner of skin problems. She recently sold her company though, and it’s in transition to the new owners. Should be the same great formula when they open back up, though!


Mia March 14, 2013 at 9:25 am

Great article, I actually had a maternity photoshoot two weeks ago and I find your advice for getting ready beforehand was great!
I ll be sure to include some of your tips in my next blog post on Maternity photoshoot!


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor April 27, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Congratulations Mia, and thank you for your comment and readership! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures. 🙂


Owen March 19, 2013 at 1:10 am

Good to know what I’ve been doing wrong on some occasions! I especially like the idea of seeing the potential in locations. Any tips on how to create photos that, when posing, don’t look too posed? I’m trying to take photos of what I wear for work but the only way I’ve found to get a half-decent photo is to take a million! I find the whole thing rather cringe worthy but still want to share it wit


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor April 27, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Thank you for your comment Owen!

The best way to look natural is to act natural. We’re always our own worst critic, so recognize that half your dissatisfaction with your photos may be your personal bias. Be yourself. When shooting others, encourage them to act natural. You might pick up an inexpensive posing guide at your local photography shop, or search for posing tutorials online – make sure that the example photos match the look you’re trying to present, because I have surely seen online posing tutorials that did not produce photos that I liked at all. Give it your own sniff test before you try it out.

Thank you again for your readership! I enjoyed visiting your Photography Ideas blog tonight, lots of inspiring images and ideas! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures.


Amanda March 25, 2013 at 11:34 am

Should a photographer starting out require pictures of the subject body in order to prepare and plan a photoshoot? Client has never met the photographer.


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor April 27, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Thank you for your comment Amanda! I’ve never asked a subject for a photo of themselves before shooting with them, although I won’t lie – I’ll occasionally jump on Facebook to check out their profile, just out of curiosity. I give my clients a Cheat Sheet so they can do as much or as little as they like to prepare, and I’ll of course encourage them to bring certain outfits or props based on the type of shoot. But I’ve never asked for a photo in advance.

Thank you for your readership! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!


Mary June 19, 2013 at 5:55 pm

great list. i have asuggestion, in my country, nails of newborns should never be trimmed. It is not good for the baby and all the parents are told not to do so after birth in the hospitals and by their midwife. so, if you are in germany, do not suggest that. people could assume you know nothing about babys. those tiny babys scratch themself of course all the time, and parents often want to trim the nails. but they never do, it has been done in the past but todays is known as unhealthy. that is what i have been told by all my customers. and read too.


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor July 20, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Mary, thank you so much for your comment and readership! I appreciate you bringing an international perspective and good information to the site!


Wendy May 31, 2014 at 9:45 am

BTW – I read something so years back that suggested you nibble the babies nails – I did that with mine as I’m terrified of clippers


Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor June 3, 2014 at 7:20 am

That’s a great tip Wendy, thank you for sharing it!

As a father for the past 10 years, it’s always amazed me how fast my children’s nails grow. My son, who is 7, especially – feels like every other day I gasp at the sight of his long nails and reach for the clippers!


Kia Groat July 31, 2013 at 11:46 pm

Fantastic and comprehensive, nice work James! You can tell that there’s a lot of experience behind your tips. I’m currently in the middle of creating an infographic for boudoir photoshoot preparation – this was excellent reading for some solid inspiration.

XOX from the other side of the world!


Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor May 25, 2014 at 7:59 pm

Kia, thank you so much for your kind words and readership!

Greatly enjoyed visiting your portfolio tonight – your work in glamour and boudoir is such a blessing to your subjects! You bring out the best in people with your beautiful art.

How did your infographic work come out?

Thank you again for your readership, and please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!


Jonathan May 21, 2014 at 11:53 am

Hi, I love your articles and I would like to get a daily newsletter from you. How can I go about it? Thanks


Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor November 29, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Jonathan, thank you for your comment and kind words!

There’s a Subscribe box at the top-right of every page of this web site. Plug in your e-mail address there, and every time I send out a newsletter (weekly to monthly), it’ll be right in your inbox!

Thank you again! Please do keep me posted on your successes and your adventures!


Wendy May 31, 2014 at 9:43 am

Thank you so much for the article, I’m putting it into a word document to send along with the confirmations. I’ve been trying to draw up my own list, but yours covered the bases. I adjusted slightly for my country and situation.

Awesome site with great articles.

Again, thank you so much.


Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor June 3, 2014 at 7:17 am

Thank you for your kind words and readership Wendy! So glad to know you’re getting benefit from PTP!

This was a fun list to put together, combining my own boilerplate information I give to new clients with new suggestions and input from other photographers in my circle. And always glad to add more to it, if you or anyone you know has suggestions!

Thank you again! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!


Amrit June 1, 2014 at 12:49 am

These are insightful suggestions but I hope you had also talked about the emotional aspect of such shoots. How does one bring out the right chemistry? I mean all the good looks will be of no use, unless true feelings are captured on camera! I wrote something on that line for outdoor couple photography here: http://shaadigrapher.com/right-approach-to-couple-photography/


Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor June 1, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Thank you for your kind words and readership Amrit! I enjoyed reading your article over on your blog, very good advice!

I agree fully – the other half of the equation beyond attractive posing and lighting certainly lies with the expression and connection you evoke from your subject. The better you can understand your client, their needs, the style and emotion of their relationship, the personalities and connections involved, the better you can mold a photo shoot that goes beyond ‘pretty’ and into the realm of capturing what those subjects mean, to themselves and to each other.


Amrit June 26, 2014 at 12:59 pm

thanks for reading up! keep up the good work mate!


laura wright July 12, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Awesome read! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this!
Going in my first maternity shoot on Saturday and this takes allot of the stress off of me!


laura wright August 1, 2014 at 11:33 pm

Thanks to your info my family came very relaxed and very ready! You can see the results at http://www.thewrightmoments.com
The carvers
Thank you so much for all the time you took to write this and Make my life easier!


Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor August 2, 2014 at 7:59 pm

That is fantastic, thank you so much for sharing this Laura! I’m so glad you guys enjoyed a great photo shoot at the client prep list was a help.

I love the name of your business, and you have a wonderful web site! Besides featuring beautiful art, which is a blessing to your clients. You do wonderful work.

Thank you for your readership! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!


Cara November 12, 2014 at 2:49 am

it seems many photographers try to discourage anyone else from starting up. They were new once too. It is competitive but that means you just have to up your game like ALL other businesses. I am considering opening a part time business next year because I love photography and want to give people photos they cherish. I have a full time job and frankly don’t want to do photography full time because I want to keep it enjoyable and not a job. So I hate reading other photographers rants and having them try to bully me into not doing what I want to do. You are right, they have no idea of your expenses etc. plus why does everyone act like high end clients are easy to work with. Are they insane?


Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor November 14, 2014 at 10:14 pm


Thank you for your kind words and readership!

I give folks the benefit of the doubt, and I don’t think any of these folks are insane. I think they’re frustrated, and they have no idea how to direct that frustration. There have been amazing changes in photography and the photography industry over the last decade-plus, and when you’re already working full time and then some, it’s like you came up for air, looked around, and the boat left without you. You have no idea what to think, and it can be very scary.

We PTPs are blessed in that typically our business income is a supplement – we’re not relying on it to put food on the table for our family. Many grognards are full-timers who are backed into a corner, watching their household income disappear year by year as more clients tell them, “Wow, the guy down the street will give me a DVD of pictures for $100! What’s wrong with you?”

The industry isn’t what it was. I’m sympathetic to what the established photographers are going through.

But it’s not your fault or mine that the industry and market have evolved too fast for many pros to adapt, and for the grognards to place the onus of blame on us is misdirected.

Why not blame Canon and Nikon for developing super powerful, inexpensive dSLR cameras? I’ve not heard a single argument that points the finger at the corporations who literally manufactured the digital revolution that the grognards are crying foul over. And I’m sure the finger of blame could extend further to the scientists and military research which developed the powerful technology which enabled low-cost high-quality digital cameras.

Eventually, the argument just becomes absurd. The world isn’t going to stop turning so that the establishment can maintain an artificial stranglehold on the market.

Create value. Communicate value.

These are the keys to success.

Thank you again for your comment and readership Cara! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!


Vivek Krishnan November 27, 2016 at 12:27 pm


It’s really a great article, i have planned to share this article to my friends as well 🙂


Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor March 2, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Thanks so much Vivek!


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor April 27, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Thank you for the link, David! I greatly enjoyed visiting your portfolio tonight – great use of color and black and white photos! And I love the QR Code Logo! I’ve never seen that from a photographer before – great way to think outside the box!

Thank you for your readership! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!


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