Hello & welcome to the blog! I'm Angela Norton, and I'm a family, senior, & wedding photographer based in North Central Florida. I'd love for you to relax a while here, and enjoy reading the ANP stories. You'll also find resources for your next session or wedding!
Perfection is impossible but preparedness makes a world of difference!
Preparing for your session is essential to making sure you have the images you want. After booking your session there are a few very important things you must do!
Location is everything and sets the tone for the entire session. Finding a location with variety and character is likely the most important part! No matter what type of session, the setting is going to be extremely important to the outcome. Scouting a location and knowing the options it offers for your photos can help enhance your images and make them more personal!
After deciding on a location, planning outfits accordingly is also extremely important. You want your choices to match one another (location and outfits) to help your photos look more polished. Take into consideration a change in lighting, instances when you want to be barefoot, and times when a certain accessory can change an image for the better! Don’t be afraid of textures and pops of color, this helps set your images apart! Any personal items or props that you may want to incorporate, don’t hesitate to bring. This can include things like jewelry, hats, jackets (letterman, etc.), awards and even a unique chair. It’s important to remember that these images are completely custom to you and should represent things you like!
After deciding on a location, outfits, and props and/or accessories, hair and makeup details become just as important. Try to focus on making hair and makeup choices that will last throughout the entire session. Know what works for you and what is going to hold best (especially in the Florida heat😉). Practicing your hair and makeup before your session can help you better understand what you want and things you may want to change!
Lastly, confidence is key in all things, but especially in your session. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone to help achieve the images you want! Trust me, they are lots of fun to look at afterwards! Find images you may want to replicate and be willing to try new things. After all, this is all about YOU!
At the end of it all, the preparation will be worth the hassle for your outstanding images!
guest writer | Emma Moxley
photographer | Angela Norton
Senior Session Preparation Advice
Unless you are a professional model and know how to pose, posing in front of a camera isn’t easy. I totally get it. I teach people how to pose all day long, but put me in front of the camera and I freeze!
I’d like to give you just a handful of some basic tips that will help you feel more comfortable during your session.
You’ll want to angle your face towards the light. What this does is bring life to your eyes with catchlights. Also, it will give your skin a bit of a glow and help blur blemishes and fine lines.
Angling your body 45 degrees to the camera, with your weight shifted to one leg, is also preferable. It slims you down, and is a more natural look.
Keep your chin down a bit. We all have a tendency to lift our face when we stand up nice and tall. Instead push your face forward a bit, thus elongating your neck, and ever so slightly lower the chin.
Easier said than done, I know. Happy and relaxed body language makes for a great picture, and any tension you feel is shown in your body language and especially your eyes. At some point during almost every session, someone will start fake smiling. So, I’ll ask them to smile with their eyes. Even if you don’t feel it, just squint your eyes a tiny tiny bit, and that will do the trick!
Make sure you have good posture, BUT don’t get so stiff you look like a soldier standing at attention. Stand up straight, relax your shoulders, and give a slight tilt of your head, with your chin down slightly. Great posture makes you look thinner and more confident.
Also, if it bends, bend it. A slight bend to any of your limbs instantly makes you look more relaxed. Bending your limbs gives separation from your body, and is slenderizing.
Sometime the outfit you are most comfortable wearing day to day, is not right for pictures. For example, a nice flowy, comfy top, can make you appear boxy and hide your curves. For more details on wardrobe choices, take a look at my wardrobe articles for Family Sessions or Engagement Sessions.
If you already have a side you prefer to take your pictures on, let your photographer know! I’ll be honest, sometimes I get so in the zone and excited that I’ll sort of forget that you like one side. So, don’t be afraid to remind me!
What? I promise I’m not trying to be contradictory! Some of the best images happen while your in motion. While you are walking, truly laughing, or brushing back your hair.
Some products just aren’t made for picture taking. Greasy products make for shiny faces, and this includes using an SPF product under your foundation.
Tips that will help you feel more comfortable during your session.
Planning is the key to having a successful family session! No matter the type of photography session you have scheduled, here are 5 tips that will maximize your shooting time, boost the experience, and be my dream client!
is not just about scheduling, it’s really about the light. If your session is outdoors, I’ve very intentionally chosen your start time. I’ve considered sunrise/sunset, studied your questionnaire answers, anticipated the needs of the individuals participating, scrutinized the forecast, all to give you the best results possible. So, if we start late, we typically won’t stay late.
Pampering yourself before your session is a great way to relax and feel even more gorgeous. If you opt to get your hair and make up professionally done for your session, allow plenty of time for you to enjoy the treatment! If you have daughter(s), this can make for a really special time together!
Small details like having manicured nails and the right colored socks help ease stress, so consider setting out your family’s outfits the night before, or morning of, while making sure you have every accessory you want ready! Check out my article on Wardrobe Tips for Your Family Photography Session for more details.
If you have little ones, I advise you to not make other plans for the day. Inevitably, kids will get tired, mom will be rushing, and everyone will be just a little bit over it. I also recommend late afternoon naps for little ones (and maybe even dad!).
Feed everyone prior to the session. I can’t tell you how many times the teenagers are starving and it shows on their face towards the end.
Schedule plenty of time to get dressed. If you are rushing around, and anxious prior to the session, this will set the tone for the rest of your family. Focus instead, on being ahead of schedule and sending good vibes to your crew!
If you’re wondering about how you can make your experience personal and memorable, feel free to bring along any props that are special to you. I want your session to scream YOU, so if that means bringing your four legged friend along or props that tell your story, please do! We can incorporate them into your photos in a fun way! Maybe it’s something from your wedding day, maybe it’s a sport you love or an old photograph that is special. Whatever you want in your photos, I’ll do my best to make it happen!
Another great idea is to bring an activity that ya’ll enjoy together. It could be a food, hobby, or game. Or, it could be something ya’ll like do, like piggy back rides, ring around the rosie, or eskimo kisses.
Most likely you are not a professional model or social media superstar who gets paid to pose. That’s where I come in! I’ll get ya’ll into positions, where you are comfortable and relaxed. I’ll also always be watching to make sure you are holding yourself in a flattering position.
And really, feeling awkward is sometimes the funniest part of it all. Just imagine…. You are all decked out, strolling through a field of wildflowers, lovingly looking at each other, holding hands, kids are clean….. perfectly normal right? Haha! Just thinking about it makes me laugh!
I think that was a lot more than 5 tips for a successful family session!
And just remember, we will be totally flexible, following your family’s lead. And believe me, no matter how good we prepare, we will surely have surprises along the way!
Planning is the key to having a successful family session!
It is family photography season and I am so excited to see so many of my returning families and many, many new families as well! Whether you have a family session scheduled with me or another photographer, chances are you have questions on how to prepare. I get asked about wardrobe by 100% of my families and I am happy to give a little guidance. I thought I would start a series of blog posts here as a reference for my families and other people looking for ideas on planning their wardrobe and preparing for their family session. Today, we will focus on wardrobe.
If you have invested in custom, lifestyle photography, you are likely excited about planning for your session. The reason I call it an investment is because it is. It is an investment in your money and your most valuable currency, your time and you want to make sure that everything goes great! One of the most fun parts of preparing for your session is planning what you will wear. This is the time to really express who you are! I know some of you stress about getting your outfits together, but trust me, you don’t have to. While I don’t style my families, I do help them along the way if they ask. Here are some basic tips in preparing your outfits.
1. Most important tip. Be yourself!! Lifestyle photography, especially from an artist like myself, is meant to be authentic. If you don’t usually wear dressy clothing, don’t. If your daughter hates dresses, don’t put her in a dress. If your son can’t stand wearing button down shirts, don’t put him in one. If you are a sporty family, dress sporty. You can find clothing that fits your style that is clean, nice, and comfortable. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t dress your best, but it does mean that you can dress your best in your own style.
2. Inspiration. Choose your inspiration piece. It could be a sentimental object, favorite accessory, or the outfit that you love. It could also be a prop, or better yet, a location.
3. Color Scheme. One important thing to consider when choosing your color theme, is to make sure it matches your homes aesthetic. You also will want to consider the time of day you are taking your photos. Here is an article I wrote on Color Theory + Color of Light.
Coordinate, don’t match. There are rare occasions where everyone in the same color works, however generally you want diversity in colors and patterns. To be frank, it is cheesy and out of style for everyone to be wearing jeans and white polos. When thinking about colors, choose colors that compliment each other.
Stay away from graphics and florescent colors. Please, don’t let your kids wear those athletic shirts that are bright neon orange or yellow. What that means is that your kids face will be bright neon orange or yellow. Graphics tend to go out of style so I suggest staying away from them.
4. Typically moms outfit is decided on first. Mom, this is your time to shine! I love when moms are in dresses (if they like dresses) or an outfit they feel great in! Go out and buy your outfit or choose your outfit out of your closet first. Choose something you feel amazing in and build the families outfits around yours.
Solid colors are usually a little more flattering, but a print layered with a cardigan would work nicely too. And mom, this would be a great time to treat yourself to professional hair and makeup! When you are feeling extra pretty and confident, it reflects on the rest of the family as well.
5. Layers & Accessories. Layers are key to making a look really soar and adding flair.6. Dress in layers. Layers add interest but also allow for removing clothing if it gets warm. Think scarfs, hats, vests, cardigans, tights, blazers, jackets….
Your accessory list could include: sweater, vest, scarf, jewelry, headband, hair bow, belt, tights, hat, the list goes on. These various accessories can be changed during the session and offer us more looks during a set. Bring extra!
Don’t forget shoes are important too. A great outfit with ratty shoes won’t look as good. Think about how the shoes will match as well as necklaces and headbands etc. These items can add a pop of color too!
6. Dad. Dads tend to like a classic, easy look. Often his outfit is more neutral and anchors the group. A nice plaid that contains the color scheme could be perfect. Just let him wear what he’s comfortable in. Trust me, you would rather him be comfortable and happy in your photos, then not. His agony will shine through 😉
6. Siblings/Kids. By now you have the colors, patterns, and textures set. Here is where you’ll add another pop of color. I suggest a barrette or bow to hold back hair for kids. As we move and play, it’s nice to have her face in view and not having to keep brushing away strays.
Also, I strongly recommend you work with the kids on what they want to wear! Strive to find middle ground, because they don’t want to wear something they hate any more than you do. And I promise, the uneasiness will translate into the picture!
Make sure the clothing you choose fits. I get it. Kids grow fast and you want to get the most out of each clothing item. But this isn’t the time. It doesn’t look good when kiddos clothing is baggy or rolled up to fit.
7. Make a Pinterest board or inspiration board with outfit ideas. It will help you get a feel for colors and patterns you love as well as trends you like.
WHAT TO BRING
-Change of clothes for kids
-Touch up makeup
-Lint roller (if you’re in dark colors)
I hope I’ve given you some useful wardrobe tips for your family session!
Here are some wardrobe tips for your family session.
Your engagement session is your first chance to tell the world your story! It’s your time to get pictures for your save-the-date cards, gallery images for your wedding day, and wall art for your home together.
As part of my wedding collections, I offer complimentary engagement photos. This is the time where I really get to know my couples, and connect before the big wedding day. Since the wedding day is typically so fast paced, is super helpful if you already know what I’m going to ask for during our short portrait moments.
So, here’s a few tips I’ve learned throughout the years, to take your engagement session to the next level!
Yep, that’s right. We are documenting is you as a couple. That includes how you look at each other with those goo-goo eyes and how you interact together. And don’t worry, will surely get the smile at the camera pictures for grandma!
You don’t always have to go in for the kiss, although I will encourage plenty of smooching, sometimes you’ll just breathe each other in. Relax, and enjoy a calm moment together.
We are there to have a good time. Taking photos might feel awkward, and sometimes the poses feel weird. So we’ll laugh a lot! I encourage you to talk to each other, tell jokes, whisper nothings into each others ears, and just keep it light!
I encourage you to talk to each other prior to the session and make sure ya’ll are on the same page. Find out what your fiance is, and is not comfortable doing in front of the camera.
If you can’t decide what to wear, just bring the extra outfit! You can change or add as we go along. And even if we don’t use it, it’ll be there if you want it.
This is a time to focus on you as a couple. These are the images you will look back on many decades from now, and see yourselves before you were spouses!
Your engagement session is your first chance to tell the world your story!
Your photography session is a great excuse, ahem, I mean reason to pamper yourself! Just imagine… you, alone with your stylist, chatting about your life, getting loved on, and feeling beautiful.
I promise you, the more gorgeous you feel, the more gorgeous you look. And your amazing feelings about yourself, really shines through in the images.
Now I am the first one to say that you absolutely don’t need to spend money on new clothes, when you most likely already have the perfect outfit in your closet. However! This is a fun way to treat yourself. You can also look into online clothing rental companies as well. Rent the Runway offers a huge selection of expensive clothing that you can rent! Isn’t that super cool!
Several years ago, I had my makeup professionally done for the first time for my own session. I felt amazing! And since then, I’ve had it done professionally every time. Pro’s know how to make you glow on camera, since they use special camera-loving products.
Your hands are such an important part of a photograph. So much is communicated through your body language, and especially hands. Make sure your nails look their best, and you’ll be ready for any shot we want to take!
It’s fun to simply gets some curls or a fun braid on the day of your session. A fresh color or cut can make you feel amazing too. Although I recommend having color services done several days prior your session, just to let it settle. Guys should do their haircuts several days prior to the session as well.
Lock the doors. Turn off the phones. Make your bath a little extra, by adding essential oils, epsom salts, and some candles.
I’ll be the first to admit, I really didn’t believe in massages…. Until I had a good one. Stress takes a toll on your body, in ways you may not even realize. Even a single massage session has been shown to significantly lower heart rate, cortisol and insulin levels – all of which help reduce daily stress.
If you need any more reasons to pamper yourself, just call me! I can always think of a new reason to give yourself a little TLC!
I promise you, the more gorgeous you feel, the more gorgeous you look.
I just love engagement sessions! First of all, we are doing the session at such a pivotal moment of your lives. Second, we get to have a play day while ya’ll are in the midst of your busy wedding planning. Third, I love that we get to tell the story of two people becoming one.
The ‘what should I wear to my engagement session’ question is the most common question I get asked. So, here’s the answers to your wardrobe dilemmas with some great examples!
Now’s not the time to pull out a beaded ball gown if you’re a T-shirt and jeans kind of couple. You should still look like yourself! Skip logos and words as they draw the eye. On the other hand, dress up if you want. This is a time to be fun, creative, and show a different side of you. After all, your engagement session is a special occasion!
Look for complementary colors and solid prints. Pick 2 or 3 colors that are flattering for both, and work them into each outfit.
Try to stay away from anything too busy, as it can be distracting in photos. You can choose to keep it simple, with subdued colors, solids, and muted prints which can help convey the couples connection. Conversely, don’t be afraid of color, if that is you. I love jump off the page imagery, that conveys energy and excitement.
You want your faces and the love between you to be the highlight! You’ll want to avoid anything neon, you’ll look like a hot, blinking sign, I also find orange is the least photogenic color, while white and red draws your eye. So consider wearing pastels, cool hues, or neutral tones, then add a pop of bright color with your accessories.
Once you have an idea of what colors you’ll be wearing in your engagement photos, consider how that color will translate throughout the entire collection of photos. You want to create synergy, rather than have the final result look like a random collection of images.
Women can express themselves most through accessories. Layering and accessories, such as a scarf, chunky necklace, or belt, adds the “wow” factor. Plus, they’re easy to slip on and off, which means you’ll have a variety of looks with a single outfit. Adding in at least one accessory per outfit for the ladies, and wearing layers of clothing for the guys, are two things that photograph well because it adds more visual interest to their looks.
I recommend looks that will remain timeless, rather than outfits that could make your images feel dated a few years down the road. Timeless doesn’t mean dreary! If your style is trendy, using classic shapes can make the color or pattern of the season more agreeable for years to come.
Don’t fall victim to treating your engagement session as a fashion photo shoot. Two outfits is more than enough to reflect your style, and it insures you won’t spend your entire session in a rush to change into the next set of clothes.
8. Flatter Your Figure
Accentuate your womanly assets. Here are some go-to tips:
Pear-Shaped: To show off your curves, focus on cinching the waist with an A-line design that flares at the bottom. Add a short statement necklace, or a top with interesting details at the shoulder and neckline to draw the eye.
Hourglass: Vertical lines are flattering, such as a v-neckline or a long necklace. Wrap dresses and boot leg pants are great choices.
Apple-Shaped: An A-line style with a gradual flow from the waist to the legs is always flattering. This shape is also great for a dress with ruching at the waist and/or a deep V-neck. The best pants for this type are a graduated flare.
Busty: Scoop and sweetheart necklines offer support and open up the décolletage so the focus is on the face rather than the bust.
Small Chest: Look for textured or ruched styles to create fullness in the chest area.
Plus Size: Engagement photos featuring an empire waist dress are usually great! They’re super flattering and emphasize the smallest portion under the bust, creating the effect of a slender silhouette from top to bottom.
Universally flattering options: All body types look gorgeous in wrap tops, a-line skirts, and jackets cinched at the waist.
Incorporating striking fabrics (think lace, fur, leather, etc.) will add a ton of visual texture, which in turn brings more warmth to your images. Use texture in unexpected ways, with lace, corduroy, denim, and knits. It will add an element of surprise to the image.
The details for him matter, especially because there are fewer of them. Make sure his shirt and pants are clean and well-pressed — no dingy whites. Shoes should be free of dirt and shined. Socks should match the pants, not the shoes. Nothing like a white athletic sock peeking out from a pair of khakis to throw off a whole shot.
-Touch up makeup
-Lint roller (if you’re in dark colors)
Hopefully that answers your “what should I wear to my engagement session?” question! You can find more Portrait Session resources on my blog.
I love that we get to tell the story of two people becoming one.
Since photography is the capturing of light, or the absence of it, the look of your session, is directly related to the time of day, and the color of light being produced.
As the earth revolves around the sun, we have different sunrise and sunset session times every day! I use an app called Photopills on my phone to plan session times in advance.
While this is considered a less flattering time of day to be photographed, I think it can be super fun, bright, and contrasty.
Senior at midday.
You will see more highlights, shadows, and the colors will be brighter. Brighter shades will give a more energetic feel and attract attention.
Engagement session during midday.
Usually I’ll be looking for shade and a background that is not washed out by the sun.
Midday is an especially nice time of day to have your session during the winter months in Florida!
The golden, beautiful, and soft light also happens twice a day, and it’s called the Golden Hour. You guessed it, everything is bathed in golden light, and it is a super flattering light to be photographed in.
Everyone looks good in gold! Your images will reflect feelings of love, courage, passion, magic, and even wisdom.
We also like these golden hour pictures because we associate wealth, grandeur, and prosperity, as well as sparkle, glitz, and glamour with the warmth.
As you already know I’m sure, golden hour time of day is the most photographed session time of the day!
This lovely time of day happens just before sunrise, and just after sunset. If you’ll notice, everything is a really cool, blue tone. The sky is usually gorgeous, and makes for a beautiful time to take pictures.
Blue hour maternity session.
Blue hour photography session images will appear serene, and since the color blue calls to mind calmness, peaceful, the viewer of your images will feel the same.
Teen session at blue hour.
Seeing the color blue causes the body to create chemicals that are calming.
Senior session at blue hour.
I feel like the blue hour session time of day is often overlooked, and many times it’s the most amazing time of day.
Queue the drama and rich color. We get all kinds of beautiful when we use flash at night.
After dark images have the wow factor. When we have a breathtaking sky that I just can’t get enough of… we keep going!
After sunset portrait session.
So, how do you want your session to look and feel?
What session time of day are you drawn to?
the look of your session, is directly related to the time of day
Photographs are meant to be experienced, and photo albums are a great way to do it.
Every photo album is uniquely you, handcrafted with your images and your design. It’s an heirloom that will be cherished for years to come.
Since your albums will be displayed, they become a conversation piece for your home. You will reach for them time and time again to share with your company. You’ll get them out at parties and anniversaries, and look through the pages. Trying to show your images on the computer, just isn’t the same.
Technology comes and goes. Remember the floppy disk and vcr? A book is forever. An album will never become obsolete or ancient technology.
This one I love because it actually has two purposes! Create a unique guest sign-in experience for your party or wedding. It adds a personal touch, and makes a memorable keepsake.
How adorable is this one? This is a must have for your newborn session!
From mini accordions to 12×12 albums, there is an album shape & style for any occasion, event, and story.
While the interior of your albums will be different for every season and story of life, you can display them with class and style!
You can choose from premium leather, colored faux leather, colored fabric, linen, and buckram. And you can choose to place an image, either full size or windowed, on the cover.
Here again, you have lots of options! From satin to matte, all the pages are nice and thick to stand the test of time. All albums are designed to lay flat, which is a beautiful way to display your images, and tell a story.
Printing technology that produces a vibrant and detailed finish that is instantly noticeable. The inks are archival quality to ensure each image maintains its vibrancy for generations to discover.
You know moms and grandmas usually have everything they need. And you also know that the thing they cherish the most is their babies, young and old. Accordion photo albums come in a few sizes, and is a breeze to pop in the mail.
And what better way to say thanks to your bridal party, than a mini album of the best moments of the day!
I’ll help you create the perfect photo album for every story, starting from the outside.
On another note, are you interested in wall art? I have an awesome inspiration gallery for you to check out!
I’ll help you create the perfect photo album.