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  • Writer's pictureDeanna Mazzola

How to Prepare for Your Photo Session: North Carolina Portrait Photographer

Updated: Apr 16

Whether you're recently engaged (congrats!), celebrating an anniversary, having a date night, or you just want to get out and have some fun together, this blog post will help you best prepare for your upcoming session.

Providing my couples with helpful resources + tips along the way to relieve as much stress as possible before their photoshoot is a top priority of mine. However, please keep in mind these are my suggestions, none of which you are required to follow.

Let's cut to the chase and get started, shall we?!

Before Your Session: What to Do

1. Choose Your Photographer

I can't stress enough how important it is to vibe well with your photographer. Picking someone that's going to tell your unique story authentically is what you deserve. I encourage you to choose someone that genuinely cares about you, your relationship, and the vision you have for your experience. In my opinion, it's so much more than a business transaction. Pay attention to how you feel every time you reach out to a different photographer. Aside from liking their work, ask yourself the following questions: Do you connect with that person on a deeper level? Do you share any common interests? Are your personalities similar or the complete opposite? Is that person kind/friendly/easy to talk to? Do you see yourself as friends outside of photography?

2. Select a Location

Picking a location doesn't have to be as stressful as you think! When it comes to choosing a place for your photos, I like to tell my couples to close their eyes and envision their experience. Afterwards, I like to ask the following questions: What did you see happening in the background? What did it look like? Where were you? Is there anything that stood out to you? At the end of the day this is an experience - not just pretty pictures. Sure that's important but what you remember most from this moment in time is what truly counts. I encourage you to sit down together and reflect upon where you enjoy spending time together. Think about a place that holds special significance in your relationship (first date, vacation, first kiss, proposal, etc). Choose a location that's meaningful to you both!

3. Pick a Time

You want to schedule and plan your session around good lighting! Maybe you're asking ... when is that? In my opinion, the best time to plan your session is an hour or two before golden hour (later on in the day/evening). Why? Because the sun's rays aren't as harsh or bright during this time and the sky is much softer. You want to avoid the midday sunlight as much as possible to stay away from harsh lighting/unwanted contrast. If an evening shoot is impossible, then my next piece of advice would be to have an early morning sunrise session. It's also important to consider how long your session will last depending on your location, activities, and number of outfit changes. This is something I help my couples determine!

4. Personalize Your Experience

Read that AGAIN. I cannot express this enough. Personalizing your experience is what I'm here for. Your relationship is unlike anyone else's and your session should reflect that. Don't worry about what everyone else is doing on Instagram or social media. This is all about YOU and what you want. It's all about planning with intention and purpose!

5. Prepare Your Outfit(s)

Try on different outfits before your session! Take some pictures of each other and have fun with it. Iron your clothes before the big day and make sure there's not unwanted stains, etc. PS - my couples know that I'm here to help in any way possible, especially when it comes to picking out what to wear. They can send me screenshots of what they have or I'm more than happy to hop on a FaceTime call to provide them with any advice/helpful tips!

6. Bring Your Furry Friend

We can't forget this one! Our pets are such a huge part of our lives and relationships so why not let them join in on all the fun? If you have a pup that you'd love to have come along for the ride, I'm all for it! Plus, who doesn't love having pictures with an adorable puppy? (tears)

If this is something my couples decide to do, I have additional tips on how to prepare a dog for a session!


  • Get Inspired

Do some old fashion research on Google or take a look on Pinterest. This is a wonderful resource! Save some of your favorite ideas to your phone and share them with your photographer. When it comes to choosing outfits I've also created a personalized Pinterest Board that I share with my couples!

  • Communication is KEY

This is HUGE. It's so so important for you to communicate with your photographer every step of the way and vice versa. If you have a question, uncertainty, or if you need advice, etc, you shouldn't be afraid to reach out to your photographer. Being on the same page is crucial! Unfortunately, when there is a lack of communication that can lead to misunderstandings, lack of trust, misinformation, unwanted conflict, and a subpar experience (thumbs down).

  • Utilize Apps

Some of my favorite apps that I like to use when choosing a location are the following; AllTrails, Google Earth, and Pinterest

Preparing Your Wardrobe: What to Wear

1. Be Comfy

The last thing you want to be in uncomfortable during your session. Be mindful of your location, the activities you'll be doing together, the season and weather conditions. If you're planning to hike on a trail or go to the top of a mountain, wearing heels wouldn't be the best thing to do! Try on your outfits beforehand and make sure you feel comfortable and confident.

2. Stay True to You

Above all, I want you to feel like YOU in your outfit. If you don't typically wear dresses or fancy clothes, then don't wear them for your session. Stay true to your own personal style and personality while being mindful of keeping it balanced and appealing in photos. You'll be looking back at these images 5 years from now so don't wear anything that's going to take away from the main subjects, which is you two!

3. Picking Colors

Neutrals and earthy toned colors are always my go-to choices and top recommendations. These colors look appealing in ANY location, they look great in camera, and they're flattering on anyone! Bright, neon colors do the complete opposite which is why I encourage you to stay farrrrrrr away from them. Bright/neon colors can take away from the location, you as the main subjects in camera, and the overall photos, which is never a good thing.

The following colors are wonderful choices: white, beige, cream, black, browns, grays, baby blue, navy blue, burnt orange, mustard yellow, forest green

4. Choosing Patterns

Avoid any patterns that are distracting or super noisy! Select patterns can look great in photos, however, you want to be mindful of what your partner will be wearing. I advise only one person wear a pattern instead of both people. Make sure your pattern compliments your partner!

5. Coordinating

Try not to be too "mixy-matchy" with one another as this can take away from the photos. Instead of wearing the same colored bottoms and tops (long gone are those days lol) go for colors or patterns that compliment each other well.

6. Accessories

Have FUN with it! Don't be afraid to spice up your outfits and be bold. If you love wearing hats, bring it along like you see in the image below!

It's Session Day! What to Do:

1. Mindset

Go into your session remembering WHY you're doing this together. Think of this time as a fun date you're about to go on with your best friend. Breathe, take it all in, and be in the present moment. Let me reassure you that NOBODY is perfect and 99.9% of people don't feel super confident in front of a camera, including myself. Free yourself of any of those unwanted thoughts and feelings and relax!

2. Double Check Everything Before Leaving

Did you ever forget something back at home only to realize it once you got to your destination? Yup, I have. If you're a note taker write a list of things you need to have prepared for your session to stay organized. Check everything the night before AND the day of before pulling out of the driveway. Being over prepared is always better than not being prepared at all!

3. Give Yourself Extra Travel Time

We all know life happens and sometimes things are out of our control. Look up the location before your session and see how long it'll take you to get there. Leave yourself extra time in case you need to get gas or if there's unexpected traffic. Set an alarm or reminders throughout the day if that's something you need. The last thing you want to feel is rushed and stressed out leading up to your shoot.

4. Things to Bring

PROPS! I encourage my couples to incorporate any items that hold sentimental value in their relationship or anything that tells the story of their love.

Prop examples: flowers, favorite drinks (wine, beer, champagne, coffee), mugs/drink holders, food (pizza, ice cream, donuts), a blanket/sheet to sit or lay on together, etc.

Other personal items to bring: extra clothes (hot or cold weather), comfy shoes, towel for sweating, snacks, water, a hair brush, an umbrella, a backpack to carry these belongings, etc.


This is what it's all about folks! If you're not having fun or enjoying yourselves, what's the point? This is a time for you to make new memories at a place you both love. Be yourselves together and don't hold back.

Preparing for a photoshoot can feel overwhelming, stressful, and even daunting at times when you have no clue where to start. This is meant to be a time for you to celebrate, relax, enjoy, and simply be in the present moment withe one another. Nobody wants unnecessary stress added onto their plate (yuck). By incorporating these helpful tips into your planning process I'm confident you'll go into your session feeling more prepared, confident, and less anxious!

To get to know my couples even more I like to send a "Get to Know You" questionnaire that helps me best prepare for each session and serve every couple best on an individual basis. I also set up an initial FaceTime call with each couple to make sure we're a match made in heaven. Building a genuine connection and relationship with my couples is a top priority of mine form the very beginning. Making sure we're a great fit and being able to provide you with what you're looking for is what I care about most.

Was this blog helpful? If so, let me know in the comments below :) Afterwards, come say hello on the gram @deannamazzolaphoto

I can't wait to connect with you!



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