Questions and Answers


My goal in every portrait shoot is to give the client the absolute best photo they have ever seen of themselves. Everything in the shoot is designed to achieve this down to the finest details of lighting, wardrobe, hair/makeup styling, expression, posing, and retouching. As you’re considering new photos, here is a brief FAQ to help you get ready for your shoot.   

How should I prepare?

Think about yourself! What do you want your photos to say about you? What’s the next step in your career? Are you a concert soloist or chamber musician? Do you have a teaching studio? If you’re an opera singer, what kinds of roles do you sing? Are you a leader of an arts organization? Look at your most recent headshots and think about what you’d like to do differently.

Look at photos! Find examples of portraits you like from other artists. Some clients keep an inspiration folder and add to it whenever they find images they admire. If you find a photo you really like, practice imitating the pose in front of a mirror.

What should I wear?

We usually have enough time to shoot two contrasting looks. Many artists like to have formal and casual photos. Formal can be performance attire, a suit or gown. For a casual look, a general guideline is that simpler is better. Your face is the most important part of your photo, so you’ll want to avoid wearing loud or busy patterns that would distract. Jewel tones are flattering, especially if the color matches your eyes. Men: if you’re wearing a suit, bring the whole outfit. Women: earrings should be understated and necklaces tend to distract. Depending on the style of photo you want, a piece of costume jewelry such as a bracelet or ring can be a nice touch. If you need inspiration, go back to the photos you like from other artists, or look into renting an outfit. Your clothes are an expression of yourself and you should feel stylish and comfortable in anything you wear.

Do I need a hair and makeup stylist?

Yes. Everyone needs a good stylist on their photo shoot, whether you wear makeup every day or none at all. There is simply no substitute for professional hair and makeup styling in your photos. Photo lights are intense and the camera picks up the smallest details. I regularly work with stylists who have years of experience on photo, film, and TV shoots. A hair and makeup stylist will use products specifically designed for these conditions. The stylist will balance skin color and minimize bags under the eyes. They will emphasize the flattering contours of your face and help your eyes to sparkle. A stylist will add vibrancy to your hair and keep it in place. During the shoot, the stylist remains on set to provide touch-ups and adjustments as necessary. Make sure you arrive with clean hair and moisturized skin. Men, have your hair cut a day or two in advance and arrive with facial hair trimmed and neat. The stylist will do the rest and give you exactly the look you want.  

What should I expect during the shoot?

We will begin hair and makeup styling when you arrive. This takes about 30-45 minutes, and is a good chance for you to catch your breath and relax. After you change into your wardrobe, we’ll begin shooting. I’ll guide you through several different kinds of poses and expressions. Portrait posing is different than how you normally carry yourself; if you feel a little awkward at first, you’ll get the hang of it as we go on. Every photographer has a different style of working. I think of my style as collaborative and improvisational. We’ll try a few ideas, some will work and some won’t. Of course, feel free to suggest anything you’d like to try. Every shoot is different because every client is different, and we want to get the best photos for you.

What happens after the shoot?

Within a few days after the shoot, I’ll select the best handful of images and send you a proof gallery. The proofs are usually unprocessed, right out of the camera. Once you select your favorites, I’ll retouch them up for exposure, color, skin tone, eyes/teeth brightening, and any stray hairs and send you high-res jpegs of the finished images. Retouching takes about a week.

How can I use my photos?

Generally speaking, you may use any finished photo for non-commercial promotional use. This means you can use your photos for your website, social media outlets, and press kits. You can send them to concert presenters to advertise your appearances. You may not sell the photos, enter them in contests, or reproduce them on commercial items such as CDs without additional permission and fees. If you have a specific use in mind, let’s discuss that in advance.

How can I have prints made of my photos?

I use a high-quality photo lab for all my printing, and I can provide a quote for prints based on size and quantity. This is the best way to have prints made.

Can I see all the photos?

A portrait shoot can yield between 300 and 500 individual frames, depending on the number of wardrobe changes and different kinds of photos we shoot. Any one of those photos will look almost exactly the same as the one before and after it. Part of hiring a photographer is trusting them to edit and determine the absolute best shots, usually about 10-15 images. Any photographer wants only their best photos to be seen; for that reason, most of the images that are shot are not released. If it’s a good photo, you’ll see it.

Can I do the retouching myself or have someone else do it?

The full scope of a photographer’s job goes beyond the shoot. The editing and retouching is the detailed work that takes place behind the scenes. Digital retouching is comparable to developing film - a necessary element of creating the best possible photo. Similar to the editing process, a photographer wants only their best work shown. The photo is not finished until the photographer has completed the retouching and released it. Retouching a photo without the photographer’s permission is unethical and may violate copyright.

Do you offer any discounts?

Yes, I offer a discounted session fee for students and new grads. Payment plans may also be arranged for full price sessions. Contact me for more details.

Do you shoot in other locations besides the studio?

The studio is my preferred location since it offers a variety of options that are easy to control, including backdrops and lighting conditions (artificial and natural). It is also a comfortable place to spread out without interruption, and it has the added bonus of a baby grand piano. While it is sometimes possible to shoot in other locations, the client may be required to arrange permission with venue management or pay a rental or permit fee.

I have so many more questions!  

Ask away!