The Portrait Process

One of the things I tell my wedding clients is that a major benefit of hiring a professional photographer with experience is that I have “been there, done that” a whole bunch of times, so I have a sense of how things will go that allows me to anticipate important moments, and help shape the day so you get amazing photos and memories, whereas the wedding couple is probably only going to have one wedding day. 

As I was thinking about my client experience for portrait sessions, whether that’s branding portraits, newborn photos, or a family session, the whole process may seem a little murky from the outside looking in — you, as the client, don’t do this every day the way I do, and I’d love to provide a little window into how everything works so you can understand it better and feel more comfortable as we go through the process!

Step One: Inquiry

This is the very first step — when you reach out and let me know about your photo needs.  I keep all my inquiries organized through special customer relationship management software — I use Honeybook, which is optimized for photographers.  When you inquire through the contact form on my website, a new project is automatically created for you in my system with all the information you provide on the form.  If you submit through my website, you’ll also automatically get a response email that answers some common client questions and asks YOU some questions that will help me figure out how to best help you.  If you didn’t inquire through the website, that’s ok — I just manually set up a project for you in Honeybook so you’re on my radar and we proceed from there.

Step Two: Figuring out Logistics

This step can have some back and forth — this is where we get down to the nitty-gritty of what you need and figure out the best date, time, and place for your portrait session.  I ask a lot of questions and encourage you to ask as many as you need, too — good communication is really key to a smooth experience and I want to make sure I’m clarifying anything that you find confusing.  If you’d rather chat on the phone than go back and forth by email, that’s fine too.  Just let me know and I can send over my call scheduling link so you can pick a time that’s convenient for you! Once this step is all settled, we move on to the next step: booking!

Step Three: Booking

Once we have all the logistics hammered out, I will send over a proposal with all the details as we’ve discussed them.  The proposal includes two parts — a contract and an invoice.  The good news is that both of these can be completed easily from your computer or phone, saving you a trip to the post office.  I accept three forms of payment for the invoice — bank transfer (handled through Honeybook and directly linked from the invoice), Venmo, or a check (ok, that last one would mostly still need a trip to the post office unless you request a check electronically from your bank).  Once you sign the contract, I’m automatically notified and prompted to countersign — you can always log into your client portal to view the completed contract if you want to reference any of the details.  

Step Four: Preparing for your sesion

Now comes the more fun parts of this process — next up is preparing for your session.  When your contract is signed and invoice is paid, you will automatically get an email from me with contact information for the expert stylist I partner with so you can make an appointment with her to consult on what you’ll wear for your session.  This email will also have a short “cheat sheet” of tips for how to prepare customized for the type of session you have booked.   

Step Five: The Portrait Session

Woohoo!!  The most fun part of all is here — the day we meet up and actually take your portraits!  During your session we’ll chat, I’ll prompt with games and poses to get the best images we possibly can, and my hope is that you’ll walk away feeling not only like you’ve had a good time, but really good about yourself as well.  

Step Six: Editing

Once I leave your portrait session, the very first thing I do as soon as I’m back to my computer is that I back up your images.  I transfer them from the SD card to my computer, back them up to an external hard drive, and have them backed up to the cloud as well.  

Once that’s done, the next step is to go through each image and pick out the best images — you don’t want the shot where you’re in the middle of saying something and your mouth is at an odd angle or you’re blinking or halfway to brushing your hair out of your eyes.  All the images that meet my standards are kept and the rest are deleted.  

Once I’ve narrowed it down to the best of the best, the next step is to tweak the exposure, contrast, and white balance.  I tend to use a fairly light hand at this step — one of the things I really value about having started out using a film camera when I was first into photography is that I really understand how important it is to get an image right “in camera” — not relying on post-processing to fix major things [ How to pick a photographer post].  Once these edits are done, I do a quick “clean up” as necessary — that pimple on your chin, that scratch on your toddler’s forehead.  Things that are temporary and not fundamentally a part of you get edited out to show you at your best.

Step Seven: Delivery

Once the editing process is complete, I export the files as jpg files (backing them up again on my external hard drive and in the cloud) and upload them to your online gallery.  You’ll receive an email from me with download instructions (my new gallery host makes it super simple with one easy click!) .  From there you have some choices — you can download your files and print on your own (I recommend mpix.com — it’s the best of the consumer-accessible labs). Because I don’t have a relationship with all the places you might print, I can’t guarantee prints you get on your own. I do offer printing services [How to design an album post] through carefully curated labs I partner with which I *can* guarantee — you can place print orders through your gallery keeping everything simple for you.  

Step Eight: Show off!

I love nothing better than seeing how my clients are using their images!  Tag Mira Whiting Photography in your post on Facebook or Instagram, send me a screenshot, or take a quick photo with your camera of your prints on the walls of your home or an album in the hands of a loved one.  

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