The Portrait Process: What to expect before, during and after your portrait session

February 06, 2018  •  Leave a Comment


The Westfall Family

When making the decision to invest in professional portraits, it can be difficult to compare photographers and to fully understand what you can expect once your decision is made.  There are many different photographers and each has his or her own style with regard to the portraits they create and how they manage their relationships with clients throughout the process.  This is a good thing, because there is surely one to fit your needs and preferences.  My goal in this blog post is to explain the Laura Esposito Photography experience.  You will find that the experience I create for you is based on my values and beliefs as an artist, a business woman, a fellow consumer, and a busy wife and mother.  

Every portrait session is unique because every person or family is unique, but there are some specific steps in the process that remain the same.  One common goal is that we set out to create some beautiful portraits for you to treasure and to have fun in the process.  I like to "keep it simple and make it fun."  Let's start at the beginning of the process to see how we make it happen.

Allyson | Class of 2018

Scheduling your portrait session

So, you have decided to entrust me with the privilege of creating treasured portraits for you and/or your family.  Yay!  Thank you!  Let's set this up and make it happen.  That means that we need to connect in order to communicate.  Depending on your schedule, it can be a challenge.  This is why I am happy to make that connection in whatever manner is easiest for you.  A phone call (330) 704-6473 is great because we can have a conversation with much information shared at that moment in time.  Unless I am engaged in a portrait session or in church, I will most likely be able to take your call.  If you have never met me, you may just want to hear my voice to get a sense of who I am over the phone.  However, if we have already met, you may prefer the flexibility of sending a message.  I welcome messages from email ([email protected]), texting (330) 704-6473, and Facebook messaging (@lespophoto).  I try to be prompt in my replies because I understand that you are ready to make some decisions and waiting for replies can be frustrating.  

During our conversation, I will want to learn your goals for the portrait session so that we can best choose a time and place.  I will want to know the subject(s) in the portraits, the intended purpose for the portraits, and any special requests or vision that you have in mind.  Almost all of my portrait sessions take place outdoors, so we base our starting time on the sunset time.  If you are scheduling a typical portrait session, we will make our start time two hours before sunset.  This could be at 3:30 in the winter months or 7:00 in the summer.  My Senior Portrait Sessions are usually the most inclusive and we often use all of the daylight we can get.  A typical family portrait session is completed in an hour or less.  It is important to remember that my portrait sessions are completely customizable.  A family portrait session with extended family that includes portraits of various groupings will probably take longer than an hour.  A High School Senior may have multiple settings that we need to use in order to fully tell his/her story.  We can make that happen.  If we are scheduling during busy months like September or October, we may want to get two dates on the calendar so that we have a back-up in case of rainy weather.

Once we have settled on a time and place, I will send you a portrait contract with the agreed upon information.  I will ask that you review the specifics so that we are both clear on the needs and expectations from both of us.  For a typical portrait session (weddings are the exception) you will bring the signed contract and payment to the portrait session.  I do not require a deposit to hold your date.  Thankfully, I have been blessed with wonderful clients who have never given me a reason to require a deposit.  

Ryan & Mary

Preparing for the portrait session

Once we have your portrait session scheduled, you will want to prepare your people, your wardrobe, and your props.  I suggest that you take a look at some of the other blog posts that I have shared for helpful information.  There is an entire series of blog posts dedicated to High School Seniors and one specifically for the Family Portrait Session that would be most helpful.  I also suggest that you browse some of the other galleries on my website <> to gain some inspiration.  It is helpful if you come to the portrait session with some specific portrait ideas in mind that you really like.  

This is the time when all sorts of ideas and questions will come to mind.  I wholeheartedly invite you to send those questions my way.  So many of my clients apologize for messaging me with questions at this point.  There are no apologies needed!  I am happy to help you through this thought process.  Remember our goal?  We want to create beautiful portraits for you to treasure and to have fun in the process.  I understand that I orchestrate portrait sessions on a daily basis. Most likely, you, my client, may have a portrait session once a year or once every ten years.  You will have questions and I have answers that I am happy to share.  You are investing time and money in this portrait session, so we both want to make it special.  


Enjoying the portrait session 

The day has arrived!  Yay!  Here we go!  Notice the title of this section: "enjoying" your portrait session.  The first step is to maintain communication so that we are both clear about where and when we are meeting.  If you have never met me in person, I will be easy to identify.  I will be the little lady running around with a big camera and a big smile.  I will want to meet everyone involved and again review our goals and any special requests that we hope to achieve.  I will want to take a look at any additional outfits that will be incorporated and discuss a game plan for how we will use our time together based on the conditions of the day. This is also the time when we will take care of the signed contract and payment.

With that out of the way, let's have some fun!  I will place you or your group in various settings and arrangements.  Once I get you in place, prepare to see me all over the place.  I will keep you in your spot, but I will be buzzing around to different angles and elevations and distances to get as much variety out of that one location as I can.  This strategy adds to our efficiency and gives you more variety.  I will ask you to move your head slightly this way or that.  By the end, I don't even have to say anything.  I love it when I barely start to move my hand and my intuitive subject does exactly what I had in mind.  We become pretty connected as we work together.  I will place hair, clothing, and jewelry if needed, but I always welcome other eyes (Mom) to help with that job.  

During the shooting process, I must warn you that I can be rather expressive.  When I look through that viewfinder and see the portrait we are creating, I become so excited and overwhelmed that I may gasp or even give the occasional "OH MY!"  When I check my work on the LCD screen on the back of the camera, I am checking to see that I have used the settings that give me the desired effect.  I am also checking for sharpness and to be sure that I am happy with the lighting at that location and angle.  This is another time when I just can't hold back.  That beautiful portrait staring back at me is energizing and sometimes emotional.  I like to share some of those views with you so that you can see how amazing you look.  It also helps for you to give me some feedback at this point so that I can adjust accordingly.

Gabriella & Anthony

Viewing your portrait gallery

After your fabulous session, you go home with nothing but expectation and I go home with your beautiful portraits in my camera.  That doesn't sound fair.  I totally understand your excitement and anticipation.  This is why I do my best to post a "First Image Edit" on Facebook so that you can see at least one of your portraits soon after our session.  I take great care in editing your portraits.  I want them to be perfect for you.  I edit your portraits in the order in which they were captured.  The portraits that I complete in one edit session will be uploaded into your gallery on my website.  You will see your gallery grow over the next couple of days.  I will share a few of my favorites on Facebook and Instagram as I go, so be sure to "like" my Facebook page (@lespohoto) and to follow me on Instagram (lespophoto)

Once all of your portraits have been edited and placed in your gallery, you will see some of them show up again in black and white versions or with some color adjustments.  This is where I use my artistic judgement to give you some variety and create some works of art.  When you see these additions to your gallery, you will know that your gallery is complete.  

Lyla | One year old

Ordering portraits

Many of my clients will agree that ordering the portraits is the hard part.  The difficulty is not in placing the order, but rather in making the decisions about which portraits to order.  You will probably want all of them.  Many of my clients do order at least a small print of every portrait.  The print prices are reasonable, so this really is an option.  

One of the benefits of ordering from an online gallery is that multiple households can place orders independently of each other.  You simply choose the portrait image that you would like to order and click on it.  That portrait will be visible by itself on the screen.  You will also see a list of the most common items to purchase show up on the right side of the screen.  You will see the most popular print sizes listed as well as a few wall art options.  You can select to add any of these to your cart.  If you want to purchase an item that you do not see listed, you may click "VISIT SHOP" and you will be taken to a menu of product types.  From here, you can look around and find other print sizes, types and sizes of wall art, and even gift options like mugs and phone cases.  

Once you have placed all of the items in your cart that you wish to purchase at that time, you can check out and pay with credit card.  Your order will be sent to me for approval.  I will look for things like cropping of images and wall art choices to be sure that your order will be fulfilled at its best.  If I see something in your order that I think you may want to adjust, I will contact you so that we can discuss exactly what you desire and adjust if needed.  Again, I want you to be completely thrilled with your portraits.  This is why I am happy to answer any questions you have along the way.  The products will be shipped directly to you.

Rachael | Class of 2018

Depending on your purpose for these portraits, you may want some additional consultation.   If you are planning a grouping of wall art on a specific wall of your home, I am happy to come to your home and discuss your options.  I have samples of the various wall art products so that you can get your hands on them and see the quality of each piece.  We may want to do some measuring and play around with shapes.  We can talk about colors and balance.  We can even place the order together so that you feel confident about what is coming in the mail.

If you have any desired use for these portraits that you do not see on my website shop, please let me know and we can find a way to fill that need.  I offer other services such a photo book design and card design.  Just share your ideas and we can explore options.

Remember that you can place multiple orders.  There is no pressure to get everything in your first order.  Your gallery will remain available to you for several years.  

Sevanah & Landon

Maintaining our relationship

Capturing your portraits and providing you with these treasures is an intimate process and results in a relationship that I value.  I will want to hear from you when you get your order to be sure that you are happy with your products.  Your family and your needs will grow, and I would love to make that journey with you.  Being your photographer is an amazing privilege.  


You make the memories; I will help you cherish them.


Love and Smiles,





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