A portrait is an incredible image that tells a very special story— the story of who someone is. It’s a powerful way to make a first impression, to be recognized and to express oneself.

“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.”
—Edward Steichen

It’s important to prepare for your portrait session. You want to look and feel your best so that you can be comfortable and have fun!

Here are Derek’s tips on how to get the most out of your portrait session:


• Please plan your outfit in advance and bring a few different options.
• Determine if anything needs dry-cleaning or ironing prior to the shoot.
• Wear what you feel comfortable in. Avoid choosing clothes that are brand-new, that you don’t like or are unsure about. If it doesn’t fit right or makes you feel awkward, it can make you tense. An outfit that is an “old friend” will make you relaxed and bring the out the real you.
• For your headshot wardrobe, erring on the side of conservative is often better.


• Clothing should look “as new” and have a good fit. Oufits that are too small or too big will not photograph well. All outfits should be clean and ironed.
• Avoid clothes with busy patterns, stripes, flowers, signs, logos, etc. It is better to use 2-3 matching solid colours. Neutral colours such as grey work well; however, avoid all wearing all black or all white.

Hair & Makeup

• Man or woman, seriously consider the services of a professional makeup artist. Makeup artists who work on photo shoots understand how people will look on camera and are there to make sure you look fantastic. Here are a few of the great benefits to having a skilled make up artist on site for your day.

Tips for a Good Look

• Try to avoid excessive sun exposure two weeks prior to the shoot.
• Do not experiment with new skin products before the shoot. They can cause skin irritation, discoloration or an allergic reaction, effectively ruining the shoot.
• Fingernails should be a moderate length and well-manicured.
• Make sure hair is healthy, no discoloured roots and the style and colour are flattering to your face. Do not experiment with new hair styles and colours before the shoot, in case it does work as expected.
• Do not trim your hair within a week before the photo shoot. Freshly-trimmed hair needs at least a few days to level out, otherwise it can be stubborn to proper styling.
• Remove unwanted facial hair. Tweeze and trim if needed.
• Get a good night’s rest. There is nothing worse than being bleary-eyed, puffy and tired during the session. It will definitely come out in the photos.
• Avoid consuming alcohol the night before or staying up late. The fresher and more relaxed you look, the better the result will be.

Points to Remember on the Day of the Shoot

• Derek will shoot a lot of frames during a session and will often use the frames as a reference point for the next series of pictures.
• Let Derek give you directions and, if you see a photo you are not sure about, relax. That is only one frame out of … well … a bunch!
• Be flexible. There will be a variation of shots – if you are open to experimenting, you may find a new look that you hadn’t considered before.
• Breathe!
• Laugh! It’s always good to laugh right before the next shot: it relaxes facial muscles and prepares you for a good shot. It can make a big difference between a genuine smile and a fake one. Not sure what to expect? Watch this quick timelapse of Derek & a client working together!

Interested in doing a portrait session? Connect with us to discuss your project needs! Contact Derek at 250-508-3762 | derek@derekford.com