I won't be speaking for other photographers, but I simply want to explain the process when booking a session with me. Other photographers may have a different approach but I hope this helps give a general idea. I booked my first professional shoot for my family really not too long ago. Even I didn't see the importance of it until I received my gallery, and got all choked up. I am always the one behind the camera, and because I love photography I don't mind it at all until I realize that I have no photos of myself for my kids to have.
Before I get to your why and what booking a session with me is like, let me just tell you a quick story. Just recently I made time for a trip to sunflower fields. I wanted to a good group photo of my daughters. I got them all dressed up, coordinated and all, I rushed to make sure I had everything packed, diaper bag, snacks, camera, etc. I made it an hour before they closed since the location was more than an hour away from me. I didn't get the photo I wanted, and honestly my camera felt like my cell phone. I couldn't put it down and really enjoy my children because I was so focused in getting a shot. I am sharing this because not even I can do it all. I believe it is so important to set time aside and allow someone else to look at your family and show you what is beautiful and special about it...even though I am sure you already know. So anyway lets begin...
How to book:
Booking can vary from one photographer to another. I have seen some offer pop-up calendars on their site and just by a click of a button you can book. Some do not give prices at all on their website and have you contact them for more information. Either way is just a personal preference. Personally, I share my package pricing and communicate by email. Depending on the type of session I do offer my cell phone to chat. Potential clients will let me know an estimated time frame they're wanting photos taken, and I send available dates and times. After a date is chosen, I send an invoice for a retainer to secure your session. Once this fee is paid, the date is set and will not be given to anyone else. Since I am potentially turning down other clients that may request this date and time, this fee is non-refundable. The retainer does go towards your session and the remaining balance is due 24 hours before your session. In all, the package includes session time, editing, digital files, and communication. It is important to communicate the type of session to your photographer. Something important to understand is every type of session has its own rigors. If the session you're wanting is a combination of birthday, maternity, and family then the package price may increase.
Most people (like me when I first had my family photos taken) have no idea where they want their session. I provide a list of location suggestions to my clients after booking. My clients are not limited to this list and they are given up until 2 weeks from their session to choose. Sometimes the list can be overwhelming, so I happily choose for the client. If the list or Pinterest does not help you narrow down a location, I recommend taking a look at my gallery and see what other clients have chosen and we can go from there. I also have a blog post sharing some of my favorite spots around Dallas.
Preparing for your session:
The biggest impact in your photos besides time and location is what you will be wearing to your session. Since I do plan to share some tips on here soon, I will share some general tips. For family sessions, especially with little ones, choose comfort. I may ask you to pick up your child, walk with them, or kneel by them. If you are wearing a shorter dress or the wrong type of shoes you will probably show your discomfort in the photos. Parents, prepare your children just by letting them know what you are meeting me for. I recommend feeding them right before your session and having something for bribery can help a lot too.
If you are planning a couple or engagement session with me, then please by all means get as fancy as you please. If you're planning a maternity shoot, make the time a mani/pedi and hair/makeup. Coming from someone who carried three times, you deserve it. For my individual portrait sessions, I allow 2-3 outfit changes, so get the most out of your session and have a casual, fun, and dressy option available for me to shoot you in.
Other than a blanket to sit on, I do not provide props to my clients. One reason being, I do not want all of my sessions to look exactly the same. I do offer help in gathering some props if you have any ideas. I recommend bringing something personal to your session whether it be a sonogram or even some champagne...that can be personal right? Anyways, avoid busy prints and bright colors. Match don't coordinate and remember less is more. Definitely do not wait last minute to prepare your outfits, and I am saying this out of personal experience.
The day of your session:
Something I cannot stress enough is arriving on time to your session. I say this because the sun does not wait for anyone, including me and you. As a natural light photographer, I rely on the sun. I choose a time that allows us to be prepared to be in the right spot at the right time. So if you want a gorgeous sunset shot, just be on time.
If you are worried about posing and how you are in front of the camera, don't worry. I will guide you where to stand, where to place your hands, and sure I will capture some cheesy smiles, but I love being ready to capture candids and natural smiles. I learned from another photographer friend of mine to bring a little speaker along to play music during our session to help set the tone. I hope all of my clients feel relaxed during their session and leave confident in what we created.
Receiving your gallery:
Ok, hard part is over, now you can leave the rest up to me. I choose, edit, and deliver the best images from your session. The post-processing time, for me in particular, takes 1-2 weeks I make all high-resolution images available to download. I include a print release to all of my clients to print on their own if they choose. At this point, I personally wait anxiously in hopes I receive some confirmation that you like your gallery and hope to hear from you again for the next milestone you want to document in your life.
If you are anything like I was when I booked my first session (unsure of what to expect) I hope this helps. Even though I did go in depth, I promise it is a pretty simple process. If you have been unsure of booking, please try a session with a professional photographer at least once. The images created and feelings captured will last you a lifetime :)
Have a beautiful day!