Shannon Z Photography

Getting your Photograph Taken in Studio

This is for everyone who's ever said "I hate having my picture taken."

Guess what? So do I. Let's talk about why, though....

  • My smile
  • My wonky eye
  • My skinny legs
  • My profile

When it comes to photos - it's important to communicate to your photographer what you want out of them, and what you're most concerned about. I know that as soon as a camera is lifted and pointed in my direction, I feel SUPER awkward about looking into the lens. I *think* I'm smiling big, but really, I'm just offering a little smirk. I'm always surprised by what I look like in the photo based on how I felt when it was being taken.

As a photographer, when I have someone in my studio for portraits or headshots, I'm thinking about these things from the client's perspective. I want to make sure that I engage with them, make them laugh, help them relax, and in doing so, I'm able to watch their face change from that awkward fake smile, to a genuine smile. Their eyes change, their body language changes, their mouth changes. And these tiny nuances are important to take note of. Because it will make the difference between "yup, that's what expected....meh" and "Oh wow! That's a great photo of me!"

The progress of a shoot.

  1. Introductions. If we have outfit changes, I like to take a look at & talk about the wardrobe that was brought, and discuss ideas for the order we'll go in, and what backdrops I might use for each.
  2. Talk about any concerns (what you like/don't like about photos of yourself), and I go over my retouching process to ease your mind.
  3. Sit or place my client where I want them, and do a light test. Then go through a few 'big smile, relax your smile, no smile' shots to see how my client reacts to these prompts.
  4. Move my client so that I can see different angles of their face, watching their eyes, nose, and overall face shape to find the most flattering angle. Some people know that they have a 'good side' which is usually the same side that their hair is parted on.
  5. Maintain conversation, crack jokes & offer posing / direction throughout the duration of the shoot to get the best results!

Most, if not all, will say "That wasn't as bad as I thought it would be" or "I had so much fun!" or "I was really nervous, but it wasn't bad at all"

Lifestyle Family Sessions, Senior Sessions (On Location)

There are some similarities and some differences on how I handle these types of shoots. Usually there are two types of people involved - those who look forward to having their senior session or having their annual photos done - or those who do it because they know it needs to be done. Either way...I want you to enjoy your experience, so I'll act like an idiot if I need to in order to get you to laugh or smile!!


  • I look for good light, and clean backgrounds
  • I try to take into consideration outfit colors & backgrounds, wind (for hair) and most flattering light when choosing a spot to get started in
  • Body type, age & posing go hand in hand - some people might not be flexible for sitting, kneeling or squatting poses due to injury, age or range of motion. So my flow posing will reflect that, plus I will ask "Are you able to sit on the ground and get up easily?"
  • Ultimately, my goal is to make you feel comfortable, get you to laugh a few times - and make you look amazing so that you'll love your photos!


  • Senior sessions usually have 3-5 outfit changes
  • Senior shoots - the focus is a lot more on the posing, and offering a wide variety of images & compositions with each outfit
  • Senior shoots usually have multiple locations & can include personalized items such as letter jackets, instruments, sports uniforms etc.
  • Family sessions - variety of posed and un-posed images
  • Family - I offer prompts & activities to get movement, laughter and emotion in the photos
  • Family - various combinations of portraits with each family member
  • Family - typically one location and one outfit


This is a combination of all the above!!! Here are the things I think about....

  1. Making the Bride look & feel AMAZING all day
  2. Capturing moments & emotion
  3. Good light
  4. Making sure the wedding party has fun during portraits
  5. Capturing all the things that happen that the couple doesn't/can't see
  6. Key Family members & getting all family combinations the couple want

How do I do this??

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate!
  • Provide a timeline to my couples 3 months before the wedding to make sure we set expectations
  • Ask for a family photo list...I don't know who is who, so I rely on being told in order to capture everyone.
  • Look for the light at all times
  • Have two cameras with various focal lengths so that I can capture moments as they unfold
  • My assistant is a second set of eyes for things like - flowers, hair, dresses, buttoned jackets etc.
  • Talk, talk talk...I talk a lot. I provide loud, clear direction - I get bossy if I have to - I crack jokes, I push through formal photos quickly and efficiently - I laugh, I smile and I encourage every person I photograph to do the same!

Shannon Z Photography - Kenosha, WI - (262) 945-8976 - Privacy Policy - Copyright © 2019