An Hour Before A Session – What am I doing just before I walk out the door?

I’ve got a lovely couple coming to me today all the way from Wales! I’m just taking a breather from my preparations to write this post and let other photographers know what I’m doing to prepare. It’s one hour until our session and I’m…

  • Looking over all of our emails to make sure I remember their names, the details of the session and promises I’ve made about what they can expect for their session.
  • Going through these emails, I remember that it’s their 25th Anniversary today! Must stop on my way and pick up flowers & chocolates.
  • Printing client information form, receipt and model release.
  • Looking through my inspiration folder and dragging ideas I’m really ‘feeling’ into my iPhone photos folder so I can have them on hand if inspiration dries up.
  • Doing all the typical battery/memory card checks and packing my bags.
  • Giving my lens a clean.
  • Having a snack even though I’m not hungry (yet). I can get pretty shaky when I’m hungry so I should juice up now.
  • I’m out of batteries! Must leave 5 mins early just incase I need them for my flash.

Note: The session went beautifully without a hitch. The inspiration shots were a lifesaver and so was my assistant who I asked to keep an eye on them and make suggestions now and then.


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Elizabeth Halford

Elizabeth Halford


She blogs about photography and business with her unique plain English approach. Elizabeth has been-there-done-that with running a photography business that doesn’t profit a penny and loves teaching photographers how to get away from the starving artist model of running a creative business.
Elizabeth Halford
  • Texan Mama - Thanks for posting this! It makes me ask a few questions… feel free to refer me to your other poests if you’ve already answered these questions.

    What do you use, or recommend, for cleaning lenses?

    What kind of forms do you have for clients to sign for a session? Can you share them or are they copyrighted to you? (I need to figure out what kind of forms I need for all that legal mumbo-jumbo).

    How much time do you typically spend at a portrait session? (just the time on location, not back at home editing)

    How often do you hire an assistant? What are his/her responsibilities? How much do you pay him/her?

    What kind of outdoor situations would necessitate a flash?

    Sorry, I know, lots of questions. But it’s me, so I’m sure you expect nothing less! ha ha

  • Tanya Rudman - Great ideas here! I should get myself an iPhone as well for inspiration 😀

  • elizabethhalford - @TexanMama:
    1. I just clean my lenses with a cleaning cloth. You know, the same type that you can use on your glasses or computer screen.

    2. I talked about my client release here:

    3. I spend as much time as we need in a session. There’s no limit but I do make sure that I’m the one who says when I’ve gotten all the shots and it’s time to end. Some clients would want to go on forever which will just bog you down with too many shots to sort through.

    4. I have an assistant as often as she’s available. I generally pay £10 per hour but she does so much more than hold stuff. She’s great at posing, moving clients around and talking to them. Last time, she also held my iPhone and prompted ideas from my inspiration folder. When I work, I really retreat within my own mind and become sort of incapable of holding a conversation or speaking intelligibly! She’s great in so many ways.

    5. Most recently, I have used a flash outdoors to compensate for extreme backlighting of the setting sun behind subjects. I avoid it at all costs, though, because even outside, the flash is so obvious in photos and I just hate the flash look :*(

  • Martin - Some good tips about final preparations before a shoot, although leaving batteries for the flash until the last minute is bad planning 😉

    In relation to your point 5 in the comment above, I disagree about flash being obvious. If you use a flash appropriately (and definitely off the camera’s hot-shoe!), balancing the flash with ambient light, it doesn’t look obvious at all, and can definitely provide much better results than not using a flash.

  • elizabethhalford - @Martin: I can always tell when flash was used, even off camera. And I don’t like it. My two cents 🙂

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