What Should I Bring To A Portrait Session?

Do you know what to bring to your portrait session? I know, I know – you’re already anxious about looking your best and trying not to look goofy when you pose. Do you really need to worry about more things? By bringing a couple of additional items to your session, though, you can make yourself more comfortable and look great. 

Below is a list of items to consider bringing to your portrait or headshot session to keep you looking stellar and provide some creature comforts.

Items To Keep You Looking Good

bring makeup kit for your portrait session

1. Mirror

It’s worth having a pocket-sized mirror or your phone handy so that you can check your hair and make-up periodically during your session. Catch stray hairs, blemished lipstick, etc. I’ll point stuff like this out during the session, but I’m not going to get that spinach out of your teeth!

2. Makeup

Guys, don’t scoff. A little bit of foundation goes a long way. If you are wearing makeup for your session, then make sure to bring some to the shoot for touch-ups. You’ll be grateful, especially if it’s hot out, a super long session, or we break for food/coffee. Finish strong and just as dashing as when you started.

3. Towel / Tissues

Towels and tissues are super helpful if it’s crazy hot out, you’re inclined to sweat easily, or we’re doing stuff with water. Especially for sweat, it’ll keep it out of your eyes and keep your makeup fresh. Remember, to dab, not rub!

4. Chapstick

If it’s windy or cold out, chapstick can be a lifesaver—a small creature comfort but also a way to keep your lips looking fresh and clear. Try to stay away from any that make your lips super shiny, though.

girl needs hair brush after flipping hair

5. Comb/Brush

Hair has a mind of its own, and sometimes fingers just don’t cut it. A brush or comb can be a lifesaver in terms of wrangling stray hairs and maintaining your look. Also, if we’re shooting outside and it’s windy, a brush will really help mitigate that lion’s mane. 

6. Hairspray

Remember when I said hair has a mind of its own? Well, sometimes, some hairspray is the only thing stopping your hair from going full COVID-19 and exploding everywhere. Hairspray is super handy on windy days or when your hair is very intricate. If you don’t usually use hairspray or gel, make sure to test it out before your session! The day of your portraits is not the time to experiment.

7. Hair Ties

If you want a quick and easy way to change your look by modifying long hair, consider bringing some hair ties. If you don’t recall, hair’s gonna do what hair’s gonna do. A hair tie is a quick way to negate the effects of wind or go from formal to casual super quickly. 

8. Lint Brush

If you have a pet or if you can’t help yourself and have to pet every dog that comes within a 3-mile radius of you, then bring a lint brush to your portrait session. Keep your clothes clean and clear of stray hairs, fuzzies from a chunky sweater, or random crumbs you may pick up from sitting in your car.

9. Clothespins

Clothespins are excellent for modifying clothing. Sometimes a pose is perfect, but a shirt or sweater needs to be tightened to show off how awesome you look. These are quick clips to pinch clothing and make sure the fit is flattering.

10. Safety Pins

Like clothespins, but more for emergencies, safety pins are great for fixing a dress where the zipper snapped or a button popped off from a pair of pants. Portrait sessions are usually pretty relaxed, but occasionally accidents happen. A couple of safety pins can save the day and keep you posing in your favorite outfit.

Items to Keep You Happy

11. Snacks

Seriously, a quick munchie can do wonders for your energy and mood. Stay away from snacks that drip or are particularly messy, though. You don’t want to risk messing up your makeup or clothes.

12. Water

Bring a water bottle and stay hydrated! Keeping yourself refreshed during your session provides energy and can help you relax as well. If your shoot is outside and cold out, don’t be afraid to bring some hot chocolate, tea, or coffee to your portrait session! Get warm and stay comfortable.

13. Comfy Shoes

Save the super snazzy, painfully uncomfortable shoes for when you’re shooting. Hurt feet affect your mood and your posture. If your portrait session requires a lot of walking, it’s worth having a pair of comfortable shoes. The momentary pause to change into and out of comfortable shoes between locations will be well worth how much better you’ll feel at the end of your session. 

14. Bug Spray

I’m based in Atlanta, which means I try to schedule outdoor sessions for early mornings or late afternoons to beat the heat. Those late afternoon portrait sessions are usually swarmed by mosquitoes and gnats, though. And if you’re anything like me, bugs come swarming when I’m outside to feast. Save yourself from the annoyance, the pain, and the itchy bug bites! Bring some bug spray to your portrait session. 

15. Spare Bag (for electronics, accessories, wallet, etc.)

When shooting, I always ask my clients to remove any phones, wallets, keys, watches, hair ties, etc. from their pockets and wrists if those items are not part of the shoot. Instead of lying them on the ground, bring a small bag to consolidate and carry those items. You’ll know where everything is and keep it all clean during your portrait session.

Other Items to Bring

musician brings props to portrait session

16. Hangars

If you’re changing into multiple outfits for your portrait session, I highly recommend bringing some hangars. Keep your clothes off the floor to avoid wrinkles and dirt! I always bring a spare lightstand to portrait sessions. This stand can be used as a clothes rack and give your hangars and clothes a place to go. 

17. Props

Have some fun and bring some props to your portrait session! These can be clothing accessories or items that help tell the story of your photos. Seniors should bring props that show off their hobbies and extracurricular activities. If you’re doing branding portraits, then bring along the tools that help you do the job! Or, be silly and bring some props to be goofy. Getting your portrait taken should not be a stuffy experience. Have some fun!

I hope you found this list helpful! Not every item will always be applicable or necessary to bring to your portrait session. Still, now you’ve got a starting point. Bring things that make sense for your session and check if your photographer will already be bringing stuff! 

Leave a comment below or email me if you have questions about this list or have suggestions for what to bring to your portrait session!

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