st louis music photographer

Rock Your Photo Sessions | Here's How to Look Your Best! by Michael Henson

Okay, so we’ve covered several questions from real brides over in our St. Louis Brides Resource Group regarding how to choose your photographer, questions to ask, things to avoid, and some details regarding the services that you should consider when planning the preservation of your big day. If you missed it, check it out here!

Today, I’d like to take a look at some other topics that I’ve heard countless people reference when discussing getting their photos taken, how to look your best! I am going to focus on how to plan to look your best for your photos whether you are getting photos for your engagement, family, children’s portraits, or your wedding day!

We’re going to cover quite a bit and there’s not really a rhyme or reason to the order of these questions so I’d definitely recommend reading all the way through. I promise there are going to be little nuggets of awesomeness scattered all throughout the rest of this post!

Before diving in, if you are engaged and planning an engagement photo session, I’d recommend you check out my e-guide on how to pick the PERFECT spot for your photos! Check it out here.

Now, onto the awesomeness!

What to Wear

The first question I have to ask is, “How many people in the photo?” This makes an obvious difference. Let’s take a quick look at “universal truths” and then move into considerations for solo portraits.

General Guidelines

Fit

Take from someone needing to lose weight, I get it! You are nervous about getting photos done already, you might not like your body, and feel like you don’t look good in anything. The tendency is then to choose clothing that you feel comfortable in. While there is typically a boost in confidence (or at least some decreased anxiety) regarding the whole photo session when you’re rocking your favorite pair of broken in jeans and that shirt you know feels “just right,” it might not look the best.

To avoid this, you need to ensure that your clothing fits properly. Not too tight, not too loose...we’re looking for “just right” here. If you are nervous about your wardrobe selections, you might schedule some time with the most style conscious friend you have to get some tips, schedule a shopping trip with a professional wardrobe stylist, or even invite your photographer over for a styling session (provided they are comfortable with the idea and have the time in their schedule).

It’s worth extra effort to ensure your clothing choices look and fit great. The greatest photo in the world will end up less than stellar if the wardrobe isn’t up to snuff, so put in some additional thought so you get results you’ll be happy with.

Body Type

Oh, happy day! Body types aren’t always fun and can be incredibly frustrating, but there are steps that can be taken to ensure you look your best. I won’t go into too much depth here, but check out this article for dressing for your body type and keep the tips in mind when planning out your wardrobe. 

Complexion

Another of those frustrating, “I’m just stuck with it” aspects of our physicality is our complexion. While there are steps that some take in order to modify their complexion, it’s something that we all have to embrace.

Again, I’m not going to delve too deeply into this topic, but I’ve found some great resources that provide some valuable tips for ensuring you are dressing appropriately for your complexion.

Check them out and feel free to shoot questions my way!

The Most Flattering Color to Wear for Your Skin Tone

Best Colors to Flatter Your Skin

Layers

While layering isn’t in the same category as the previous topics, it is definitely something to discuss. Adding layers to your wardrobe adds a lot of visual interest, adds or breaks up patterns, introduces different textures, and helps “polish” a wardrobe. Depending on the time of year, this can come in the form of an undershirt, cardigan, jacket, or scarf, basically anything that adds a different texture or complementary color to your primary wardrobe pieces.

Accessories

Once you’ve taken the above considerations into account, consider adding carefully selected accessories to finish off your look. Adding a necklace, bracelet, or watch can add a final layer of polish to an image without having to do anything crazy or different than what you would normally do.

Alrighty! Let’s move on to some session specific tips...

Solo Portrait (lifestyle images, senior sessions, quinceñeras, etc)

When you are the only subject in the photo, your wardrobe is pretty straightforward. Pick items that you love and feel supremely confident in. Select items that feel “authentic” and definitely consider adding layers to make things a bit more interesting.

Group Portraits (more than one person - engagements, family portraits, etc.)

A lot of what I discussed in the solo portrait section is still applicable with groups. The primary additional consideration is the color palette of all the wardrobes involved.

When planning a group photo, you want to be on the same page with the others that are going to be in the photo with you. That’s not to say that you necessarily want everyone to have the exact same shade of midnight taupe, half baked salmon, or whatever the trending shade is on Pinterest.

Instead, you want to pick colors that are complementary. Varying shades of the same color family and the incorporation of interesting layers and textures are what will help your group portraits look amazing. After that, it’s simply a matter of getting some solid posing advice and you are good to go!

Posing Tips

Ladies, I’m going to go ahead and apologize because the vast majority of posing advice is directed straight at you. A few simple tips are all it takes to rock some awesome poses!

For the most part, the principles are pretty straightforward and if you can keep them in mind, you’ll be much closer to how you look 99% of the time. Those principles are:

  • Pop your hip!

    • How? Just push your hip the way you do when you want someone to know that you aren’t playing around. Give it some attitude! It might feel a little unnatural because you’ll be focusing on it, but it helps your posing by creating curves and helping you avoid the square block, Minecraft character look. Despite feeling like you might be overdoing it, I promise that it comes across as a subtle shift in the camera that makes a huge difference!

  • Shift Your Weight

    • You accomplish this by popping your hip to one side (toward your significant other if your are getting engagement photos done), and then moving the foot on the “unpopped hip side” so you either gently drag a toe behind you or rest on its tiptoe while crossing that knee over the other one.

  • Bend Your Elbows

    • Simply put, you don’t want your arms hanging straight down at your sides. That looks unnatural, makes your body look “Minecraft-y,” and can push the shape of your arms into less than flattering positions. So, put your hand on your hip, partially behind your back, or somewhere so it will have a bend at the elbow.

  • Smile for real!

    • All too frequently, people plaster a really fake, painful looking smile on their face and keep it there for the bulk of their photos. Stop! Relax your face if you need to, and when the time comes for the photo think of something funny, tell a stupid joke, or do something to make yourself laugh or smile involuntarily. It’s those authentic smiles that really shine through and, take it from someone that sees a TON of photos, it’s a HUGE improvement over the frozen smile.

This may seem simple (or overwhelming), but taking the time to ensure these quick tips are implemented will help you look your best. People tend to “lock-up” in front of the camera and start doing all sorts of uncomfortable looking posing. These tips help you bring some of that relaxed, natural look back into your images.

Within about 5-10 minutes of a photo session, most of my clients are doing these things naturally with only the occasional reminder or correction from me. As a result, we’re able to focus on having a blast, laughing, getting to know each other a bit better, and creating the fun mood that shines through in the photos.

Grooming Tips

Tips for the Fellas

Okay guys, we got off a bit easy with the posing advice, but we have to make up for it with a bit of conscientious thought when it comes to grooming. I’ll keep things as simple and painless as possible.

Hair

Your hair needs to be presentable. Don’t go get a haircut the week before your shoot, go get your haircut a couple of weeks before your session. This will give your hair time to grow back out a bit and reach the “happy medium of awesomeness” (Yes, that’s the technical term.) that we all strive for.

Face

Don’t neglect it! If you normally rock a beard, goatee, handlebars, or other type of facial hair, ensure that it has been cleaned, trimmed, and cleaned up around the edges, etc. If you are going to be clean shaven, consider getting a quality shave at a salon or somewhere like The Art of Shave. You’ll be less likely to end up with razor burn and/or nicks this way.

If that’s not in the budget, take your time shaving to keep from doing something that might irritate your skin. (Photoshop and editing can help if the worst were to happen, but if the work necessary is extensive, you can most likely look forward to an additional retouching fee and a longer turnaround time between the session and delivery of your images.)

Hands

I know you might not like it, but your safest bet here is to go get a manicure. If this idea is appalling or uncomfortable, I would suggest you take some headphones and listen to sports, watch some MMA on your phone, watch Ron Swanson video clips, or just blast some RAWK to get you through.

If you prefer to avoid that scenario, I would recommend you invest some time in the weeks before the session to get some lotion on those mitts and get your fingernails and cuticles cleaned up. Your hands might not even make their way into a photo, but if they do it’s worth the effort you put into cleaning them up.

Ladies, your turn!

The tips from above (ahem, go ahead and disregard the facial hair part...) are still applicable. Use your photo session as an excuse to go get your hands and feet pampered with a mani/pedi so they’re looking nice! Chances are that your hands will more than likely be in the photo, especially if you’re going to be showing off an engagement ring or accessory.

If you're looking for ideas on what type of manicure to get, go the French tip route. It’s a classic, clean look that won’t look out of place or clash with other aspects of your wardrobe.

Professional Makeup

If at all possible, I recommend getting professional makeup and hair styling done. Not only does it take the stress off of you, but your stylist should be able to give you a natural look that will look great on camera. It’s easy to overdo makeup where it doesn’t give you the look you desire. So getting it done professionally is one of the best ways that you can ensure it will look flawless.

If professional makeup is out of the question and you still want some makeup, keep it natural without much additional color, especially around the eyes, etc. Also, avoid products that contain a metallic component or glitter as these tend to catch the light and create sparks of light in photos that are time consuming to edit if it becomes necessary.

Props or No?

This is one of those concepts that could go either way on the awesome scale. From what I’ve seen, using props can either be an incredible addition to a photo session or they can be cheesy. If you have ideas for props that you would like to try, put plenty of thought into all of the details.

It’s the details that bring together a styled session with props. Pull out all the stops on Pinterest, collaborate with your photographer and have a ball with it! I would even recommend contacting a rental company or event planner to discuss your ideas as they tend to have a lot of resources and ideas on how to bring the details of your vision to life in a classy, polished way.

These guidelines are the homework you should complete prior to your photo session. Once you’ve put in the effort and thought to go through each category above and implement the advice given into your wardrobe and grooming prep, relax! You should now be able to show up at the photo session with confidence that you have done your part to create the images you want. The photo session is the fun, creative part of this process.

At the session, it’s the role of your photographer to remind you of posing tips, come up with new & different poses for everyone, and to look for creative ways to capture whatever story or season you are wanting to capture.

Are there any other topics, ideas, or questions that I haven’t covered here? I’d love to hear from you and get any feedback you’d like to share. Feel free to drop a comment down below or shoot me an email!

If you’d like to ensure you pick the perfect location for your photo session, take a look at my guide to locations here. Just enter your email address and I’ll get that e-guide sent over to you!

Thanks for taking the time to stop by, I hope to hear from you soon!

 

9 Questions Brides Want Answered | St. Louis Wedding Photographer by Michael Henson

For an industry with what seems to operate under a fairly basic premise, the wedding industry certainly contains a lot of pitfalls, questions, and unknowns that couples have to address as they prepare for their big day.. Recently, I asked the members of my St. Louis area bridal/wedding resource group (if you’re planning your wedding, check it out!) what types of questions they have and what they would like to learn more about.

In addition to some of the topics I already planned to address, I received quite a few others to add to the list. Many of those included questions about St. Louis wedding photography and picking a St. Louis wedding photographer.

(Quick note:  If you have any questions about a topic that aren’t addressed, feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll certainly get to work on it!)

If you'd like to be the first to hear about new resources and would like to snag a copy of the guide I created for "How to Choose the Perfect Location for Your Engagement Photos," click this link, enter your info, and I'll get a copy of that e-book sent over to you ASAP! 

Ready? Let’s get started!

Should I hire one wedding photographer or two?

The easy answer? Two!

If you have a very strict budget and simply CANNOT afford the additional cost for a second photographer, I get it. In this case, I highly recommend that you take some extra time to talk to the St. Louis wedding photographer you are interested in booking to ensure that you are on the same page. They will need to be aware of the details surrounding the timeline you’ve created for your wedding day, and you will need to add a bit of extra time around each “phase” of your wedding day to allow them to move and setup new gear, take a restroom break, etc. You will also need to keep in mind that things that might normally be shot at the same time will need to be scheduled for separate times as photographers are normal people too and can’t be in two places at once...yet!

This is one of the main reasons why I recommend having two wedding photographers. Two photographers shooting throughout the day allow for a lot more photos of every aspect of your day. You will end up with more details covered, more candid, emotional moments captured, and you can streamline your timeline by having one photographer covering one aspect of the day while the other is somewhere else.

(Note: I recommend hiring a photographer that will have a trusted second photographer with them, not two separate photography studios. The established team will work together more efficiently and your end result will be much more cohesive than it would be with two completely different people shooting whatever they think you want in completely different manners.)

Should I have both photo and video?

This is mostly a personal preference scenario. My opinion? You are spending countless hours, sleepless nights, and tons of money putting together this one epic celebration of your love for your spouse. After you leave the venue, the vast majority of that investment is gone forever…unless you’ve considered the importance of preserving those moments, details, and memories in the form of photography and video. In order to do so, I would highly recommend booking both a wedding photographer and a videographer if your budget allows.

Do they have to be (or should they be) from the same company?

No. Not necessarily. I recommend finding the best of each within your budget and booking them, or at least talking to them. These folks are going to be all up in your business the entire wedding day, you need to LIKE them. So find the ones you like and book ‘em, Dan-o! Whether they are from the same company or not…

How many hours of coverage should I plan for?

ALL OF THEM! Seriously, read my response to the photo + video question (above). It might seem silly to have a photographer hanging out while you just chill with your bridesmaids or hanging with the guys at another location, but those times are when the magical, intimate moments happen. Those are the moments that bring tears to your eyes 20 years from now.

Another reason you want to consider scheduling as much coverage as you can, because NOTHING ever works according to schedule. Think about it! It takes way too long just to get a group of friends out the door for breakfast or dinner when you’re all hanging out. Add the dress clothes, high heels, nerves of the day, the fact that someone is always going to forget something and have to run back inside and someone is always going to be hanging out in the bathroom holding everyone else up, and you have a recipe for stress if you haven’t prepared! Add in tons of cushion time, extra time before and after photos, and have your St. Louis wedding photographer there for as long as you can!

What questions should I expect from an experienced photographer in an initial consult?

This varies quite a bit based on how well they know you, how much you choose to reveal, and how engaged you are in the photographic end of the process. During the course of an initial meeting, you can reasonably expect to discuss these topics:

  • Your story! Photographers are visual storytellers and we want to tell the story of your relationship, so be prepared to share details!
  • Your hopes and dreams for the wedding. How many guests, bridal party size, venues, themes, details, etc.
  • The types of shots you would like to see, if any. (If you don’t have any at this point, it’s all good!)
  • Favorite date spots, etc. if you are going to be having an engagement session with them. Although, these questions might come as you begin to plan your engagement session.
  • What questions do you have?

What information should I know before hiring a photographer?

First and foremost, you should be comfortable with them. There needs to be some camaraderie and comfort there. So take some time to ask them about themselves and get to know them on a personal level a bit. Make some small talk, drink some coffee, and relax a bit before diving into your interview.

(The better you get to know your photographer, the smoother your photo sessions with them will go, the more comfortable you will be with their judgement, and the more amazing your photos will be!)

Once everyone is comfortable, some questions to ask include:

  • What do your packages include?
  • Do you shoot with a second photographer?
  • What is your style?
    • Are they mostly documentary style (minimal posing/interference) or are they fine art where they’ll do most anything to get the shot they envision?
  • Are you comfortable with off camera lighting or are you natural light only?
    • This comes into play quite a bit depending on the venue you are using. If someone is comfortable with using additional lighting, they will be able to provide a different level of final image than someone that is strictly a natural light photographer.
  • What are the payment terms if you book with them?
  • How long does it take to get images back?
  • What’s your stance on digital files?
    • Many photographers charge a flat fee and provide unedited images on a CD/USB. Many others truly value printed products and want to offer something of heirloom quality and they will approach things a bit differently. I fall into the latter camp and would certainly want to discuss this with potential clients early on.

How can I tell between an experienced vs. a novice photographer?

Ask them! That’s pretty much what it comes down to. Talk about their experience. Look at their work. If possible, ask them to see an entire wedding gallery with all of the pictures from a wedding, not just their portfolio shots. If they are willing and able to show an entire gallery with shots that you like, chances are you are going to be satisfied with the images they provide you. There’s a big difference between a photographer that can nail 5-10 portfolio images and those that crank out hundreds of solid images from a wedding.

What are some things a photographer should never say or do?

Something that makes you uncomfortable on a personal level. If it’s an accident, that’s one thing, but your photographer should be professional, conscientious, and respectful of you and your ideas. They might (respectfully) argue with you about something or point out if something might not work (they do this in the best interest of your final photos!), but in the end they should ultimately defer to your preferences with a smile and good attitude. If they don’t or if they act ignorant, I’d recommend you find someone else. Your wedding day is going to be stressful and crazy enough without spending it with a cranky photographer that doesn’t know how to work with you.

How do I plan for/minimize problems or issues before they arise?

The hard part of planning for problems before they arise is actually thinking of what problems might crop up. I subscribe to belief in Murphy’s Law - anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Beyond actually predicting the future, your best bet is to work closely with your wedding vendors. Discuss your concerns, talk to them about the issues they’ve seen in the past and what they can do to avoid those things occurring in the future.

After that, it becomes a matter of rolling with whatever comes up. If you go in with the understanding that things are going to go wrong, you can be in a much better mental state and will be able to trust your wedding professionals to do their job and overcome whatever arises.

How do I deal with Mother Nature when I’m having an outdoor wedding?

Plan for the worst, hope for the best!

There are steps you can take to minimize the impact of inclement weather such as having tents to keep the ceremony and guests dry, heaters if you are planning something for when the weather might turn chilly, umbrellas, etc. However, the main thing you can do is properly plan. Look through the Farmer’s Almanac to get an idea how the weather might turn out.


Once you’ve done all of your planning, it comes down again to trusting your vendors to help you out and overcome whatever might occur. If you’ve selected your vendors carefully, your wedding will turn out great despite what Mother Nature throws at you. No matter what, keep your cool and stay focused on enjoying your big day!

What questions do you still have?

I know that there are countless questions still floating around out there and that I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of all that can be covered here. I would absolutely LOVE to hear your questions, comments, stories, and real-life experiences! Feel free to leave comments below, shoot me an email, or bebop on over to Facebook and strike up a conversation

Thanks for your time and I hope to hear from you soon!

Michael

[re]Fresh Model of the Month (x2!) - St. Louis Fashion Photographer by Michael Henson

Well, it's a new month and that means a new write-up about my latest Model of the Month session at [re]Fresh Boutique in Brentwood. January's photo shoot was a departure from others because we added an additional model to the mix! We ended up with two sisters, Emily and Allie, that rocked several wardrobe changes and worked great together!

Since the sun has been setting early in the evening and due to our constraints (needing changing rooms, etc.) we have been stuck indoors for the past few sessions. I've not wanted to end up with similar settings and backdrops in every session, so I knew this session would take a little bit more thought as most of our settings have been tapped out.

I'm happy to say that we worked it out! From the conference room to a shot I organized from the parking lot outside, we had a great time and came away with some unique settings and shots!

Enjoy!


[re]Fresh Model of the Month - St. Louis Fashion Photographer by Michael Henson

Well, it's Thanksgiving weekend and amongst the turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie, I have another batch of photos from my [re]Fresh session to share with everyone!

This month's model was fresh from a business trip to Detroit and still managed to completely kill it the whole evening! We had a blast with Christmas decorations and winter clothing and even had a few of the fabled [re]Fresh volunteers hanging out to help with wardrobe and decor.

Check out the video for a very quick behind-the-scenes look at the session and bebop on over to [re]Fresh's website to submit your application to get in on the fun!

For more from Henson Creative, check out our Facebook page (don't forget to LIKE and follow it to stay up to date)! To schedule your session, click here!


Cake Smash with the Twins | St. Louis Family Photographer by Michael Henson

A First!

When I was given the opportunity to take photos for a cake smash session featuring one-year-old twin boys, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect! I knew that there would be cake and the smashing of said cake, but beyond that? I dunno! As with any of my photo sessions, I spent a good deal of time looking for inspiration and thinking about how I wanted to approach it.

I showed up a bit early to the session with a solid game plan and a lot of excitement. Once we got mom, dad, and the twins ready, we started off with a few shots in the backyard. I was able to track down a vintage Radio Flyer wagon, add a blanket and a couple Winnie the Pooh bears, the twins, and you have a great combination for some classic baby cuteness! When the boys weren’t focused on waving at every car that drove by (they’re a friendly crew!), we snagged a couple great photos and moved inside for the part that everyone had been waiting for.

Cake Smash

The cake smash area was set up in front of the perfect wall, on top of the perfect table (love the reflections!). While the twins were prepped, I got my trusty studio lighting ready to go, and then we let the smashing begin! After several moments of tentativeness, the boys got into it and got their hands dirty. A few short moments later and it was all over!

Now that it's over and I've had some time to reflect, I must say, I had a blast! I mean, babies are cute anyway but add some sugar and some icing and you have quite the combo! I’m certainly looking forward to my next one!

Contact me to schedule your session today!