YOUR GUIDE FOR CHOOSING THE PERFECT TIME, LOCATION, OUTFITS & MORE!
Hey there! I'm Courtney. I started my business in 2009 in Seattle, Washington. Mainly photographing weddings and couples, I decided to move my business to Paris in 2022 for a little change in scenery. Since my first visit to Paris in 2015, it was a dream of mine to live in Paris. I now spend my days walking around Paris and scouting new locations for my lovely clients, like yourself. I have a deep love for the city and enjoy sharing that with everyone who comes to visit and hire me for photo sessions.
I'm so excited to be working with you and can’t wait for our time together during your session! It’s normal to be a little nervous about getting your photos taken, which is why I wanted to create this guide to help answer any questions you might have. I want to make sure you have everything planned out and ready for your session so that it goes as smoothly as possible.
Capturing moments into photographs is especially important to me as it's the best way to cherish the memory of your time here in Paris. Our memories may fade and disappear, but a photograph is something that helps capture time in ways our brain can't. It's one of the many reasons I started photography back in 2009. I had two babies and wanted to keep them little forever, but could only do it through photos and videos.
There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to planning a photo session (especially in another country). Since my clients ask similar questions, I thought it would be beneficial if I put together a guide that walks you through everything you need to know before your session.
A NOTE ABOUT THIS GUIDE
Portrait sessions can take place anywhere from early morning to right before sunset. I’ve found locations around Paris that are wonderful spots for photos, but some are only good in the morning or in the evening. I normally plan session times based on the location my clients choose to insure that the light is best for that specific location.
I schedule sessions during what we believe will be the best light of the day - which means that it’s super important to be on time. If you’re late to an evening session, we could run out of light before we’ve finished shooting and if your session takes place in the morning, the sun gets more harsh as it rises.
Sessions typically last about an hour to an hour and a half. I prefer to shoot when the sun is lower in the sky to avoid harsh shadows and bright sun patches or early morning right before the sun rises or a little after (if you aren't a morning person and don't want to wake up too early). The first two hours after sunrise is also an ideal time to shoot.
As you might know, Paris is full of amazing locations for photos. We could spend all day traveling to different locations around the city, but we only have so much time during a session. Here are a few locations I really enjoy photographing at. Depending on which location will depend on the time of day we decide to meet for your session.
Jardin du Luxembourg is a great location for greenery, architecture and a classic Parisian look without having the Eiffel Tower in the photos. There are several locations close to the garden that also work for beautiful backdrops, like cafes, fountains and little street alleys. This location is great for morning or evening sessions.
The Tulleries Garden has a lot of similar looks to the Jardin du Luxembourg but it also is very close to the Louvre as well so if there is enough time left in your session, a second location might be possible for a different look or backdrop.
This famous location (thank you Inception) is a great location for having the Eiffel Tower behind you and is within walking distance of some great Parisian side streets. There are fewer people around, too. There are also some very cute cafes nearby that make for great backdrops. After your session, have a delicious meal close by at one of my favorite restaurants Pinky Bloom.
This location is best in the morning time, as the sun rises behind the Eiffel Tower.
This is one of my all-time favorite places for photos. The arches and architecture around the Louvre are iconic and make for breathtaking backdrops. The color of the building also works well for any season, weather conditions or outfit colors. It's a great backup location for when it decides to rain, as most of it is under cover and there aren't many people around.
During the summer months there is a fountain going that looks great in photos as well. And just across the street, less than 5 minutes walking, is the Palais Royal and gardens. It's famous for the Colonnes De Buren/ the black and white column art instillation and the rows of trees that lead to a beautiful fountain.
This is one of my favorite locations for sunsets in town. With a great view of the Eiffel Tower, the river Seine, and other large monuments like Invalides, this is an iconic place for photos of you with a Paris background without being right up close to the Eiffel Tower. There aren't usually that many people on the bridge, but even if there are, I know a few spots and angles that make it look like there aren't. After photos on the bridge, time permitting, there is a lovely path along the rive Seine to get more nature photos.
The first time I went to these parks, I was surprised how I hardly saw any photos taken here. There were so many amazing spots for photos, including a merry-go-round, bridges and old collapsed buildings and columns. No matter what season, the park grounds are beautiful.
Parc Des Buttes-Chaumont reminds me of something you would see in Central Park. There is also a very cute cafe nearby that we can use to end the session at.
When picking outfits we recommend keeping in mind the word 'complement' rather than 'match.' For example, if someone is wearing a blue and pink pastel plaid shirt or dress, the other person may want to choose a long, soft blue shirt or dress that complements what the other person is wearing. It can also be a great idea to choose 'color-families,' such as pastels or jewel tones. One thing you don't want to do is match exactly to one another. For example, black on black or white shirts and blue jeans.
Generally couples or families pick two outfits: a more formal outfit and a casual outfit. We recommend saving your favorite outfit for later in the session, when everyone is usually more comfortable in front of the camera. Don’t forget to bring a few accessories, too! Statement necklaces, hats, scarves, cute shoes and classic watches are great ways to add detail to outfits. If you are still unsure on what to wear, send some photos over and we would be more than happy to help you pick the best options.
Heels lengthen legs but if your heels aren’t comfortable for walking, bring an extra pair of shoes to slip into in between shots.
I love the way larger patterns photograph - just be careful not to choose a pattern that is too small - it may accidentally make your photo look a little too busy.
Softer, pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors - especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin. I love bright colored dresses, but we don’t love the neon reflection they add to your complexion.
Be conscious of the weather and season you are getting your photos taken in. Winter photos and summer dresses don't usually do very well as you'll more than likely be freezing which will reflect in your photos.
Statement jewelry is a great way to add color or pattern to a simple dress.
Lace and tulle look amazing in photographs.
And dresses with lace sleeves are a great way to help slim arms. Depending on your location, you might want to consider a fit and flare or a flowy dress.
Flowy dresses are my favorite because they photograph so well. They look great when walking and in photos with movement. Choose an outfit you feel comfortable in, but don’t be afraid to dress up!
Be mindful of scarves because they can shorten your neck or make you look like you don't have a neck at all. We definitely don't want that!
Getting your photos professionally taken is a great opportunity to get a little extra dolled up, right? I find that women who get their hair and makeup professionally done before their sessions not only feel better, but the photos turn out much better as well. The reason being that professional hair and makeup artists work with photographers a lot and know what looks best for photos. Too little makeup (like the day to day look) doesn't always photograph well or translate well in the photos. Professionally done hair & makeup last longer than typical hair & makeup as well. Plus, you get to relax for a bit and let someone else pamper you!
It’s so important that you look and feel your best for your photo session - and if you’re needing some recommendations, I would be more than happy to share them with you.
You can’t go wrong with a suit and tie. Consider pulling out that suit you had to wear last time you were a groomsmen or a guest at a wedding!
Layer a white t-shirt with a blazer - you can even wear jeans with this look. Ties and bowties are always a bonus accessory as well.
Be careful not to choose a pattern that is too small - it may accidentally make your photo look a little too busy. Softer, pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors - especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin. Cozy sweaters layered over button-up tops are a great way to stay warm and stylish during the cooler months. Even a nice winter coat.
Be careful not to wear shirts with logos on them as they can be distracting.
When it comes to posing for your session, you don’t need to worry about a thing! I’ll guide you through the entire process beginning with 'poses' that are super easy, natural and will make you feel instantly comfortable. If I tell you to do something that feels a little funny, it’s probably because I know it’s going to make you laugh - and that’s the photo I'm actually looking for.
Throughout your session, I'll keep an eye on your hair, makeup and outfits to make sure things stay in place. I want you to feel as relaxed as possible and enjoy our time together! Just think of it as old friends catching up.
champagne is always a good idea
If you’re planning to bring props to your session, we recommend including them only if they’re meaningful to you or help tell your story. Shots of drinking coffee at a local coffee shop would be cute if that’s where you met or take your dates together. A bottle of your favorite champagne with some fancy glasses also make for great photos that celebrate your time here in Paris.
Paris is known for its fickle and ever-changing weather, but there is no need to worry if it decides to rain (or snow) on your session date. I like to have some options for locations that have great cover and still gives you amazing photos. Usually you can check the weather a day in advance for the most accurate weather predictions (I try not to look more than a couple days because it tends to change so frequently).
We’ll check in with each other the week of your session to confirm the time & location we’re meeting and see how the weather is looking. We know it takes a lot of time to get ready for photos and we definitely want you looking your best for your session no matter what the weather is. I would recommend always bringing a backup outfit just in case or clear umbrella (try and avoid umbrellas with patterns or brightly colored ones that may reflect a certain color on to your face).
I love detail photos! I believe it is a great way to capture your personality and fashion sense in a photo. I love taking pictures of your hands, rings, shoes or jewelry (even a cute designer handbag).
If possible, try to have your rings cleaned, shoes polished and outfits nicely steamed before our session together.
For finger nails, make sure that you either have no polish on your hands or that your hands have recently been manicured.
Ladies - getting your hair and makeup done is always recommended when getting your photos taken. If you are in need of some recommendations, please let me know and I would be happy to send some over.
As soon as your session is complete, I’ll upload your photos to my hard drive and back it up on one other location just for safety. I will try to send at least 4-6 edited imaged as a sneak peek to hold you over until you get the full online gallery. These sneak peek images are just a light touch up.
Most sessions take about 2-3 weeks to get your online gallery link from me. Weddings take a little bit longer as there are more images to go through.
I get it. Having your picture taken for 1-2 hours might not be in your top-10 favorite things to do during your downtime. And at first you might feel sort of awkward being in front of the camera, however I think you’ll find that by the end of the session, it’s a lot easier than you thought it would be AND you even might have had a little fun. Trust me on this one!
While I take most of our wedding, elopement, engagement and portrait sessions in Paris and all over France, I’ve photographed sessions and weddings everywhere from Italy, Greece, the UK and Ireland. If you have a location in mind that is significant to the two of you, let me know. I love traveling and exploring new areas around the world for photos outside of my normal area.
*Travel fees may apply depending on the location and our availability.
I know that this guide is long and hopefully it covers everything you need to know to prep for your photo session with me. However if there is something I've missed, or you need a recommendation feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org