Finding a Theme for Your Photography Session

Flipping through magazines and Pinterest boards is a fun way to get some photoshoot inspiration that can easily become extremely overwhelming after a few hundred ideas. I used to struggle with this myself. The reason I found it frustrating was essentially the fact that I went into the search without even the slightest idea of what I was hoping to get out this exercise. This is why I've learned how to select a theme, stick with it, and tell a story within that theme. Trust me, sounds like a lot, but it makes planning much easier!

Understanding The Purpose of The Photoshoot

Most photo sessions have a main purpose: whether it's to capture the essence of a newly-engaged couple, the love and joy of a family, a fashion statement or even to highlight a product or service that a company offers. This first step is always a given. When hiring a photographer, you already know what it is you want for them to capture. Once we're past this step, it's always good to think of a general theme that can really help you tell this story. If it's an engagement session, the theme could be "our relationship story", and from there you can then select location, outfits, hairstyles, props and other details that you can really relate to because it's extremely personal to you and your significant other. 

Some key questions to ask yourself when selecting a theme:

-What is the story I want to tell through these images?
-How personal is this photo shoot to me and/or the people I'll share it with?
-What do I want to achieve through these pictures?
-How can I keep it meaningful to me and/or to my audience?

Most people want to steer clear of cliches and overused concepts (as seen on Pinterest). Answering these questions will help you make your photo session unique and memorable. The theme can be simple, it can be "a day in the life of the Smith family" or "the Johnson family's definition of fun" and from there, you can fine tune ideas that will help communicate what you're trying to convey. Of course, sharing some thoughts with your photographer will be helpful if you're not sure how to properly decide on a theme. 

Benefits of Choosing a Theme for Your Photo Session

For starters, it makes things easier on your end when you're planning your wardrobe, hair, makeup, props and location. It will also make the images look consistent and purposeful, without seeming cheesy or generic. Nothing against the latter, but memorable images tend to be timeless and enjoyable for many years to come. 

How to Choose the Right Photography Props?

Props by themselves don't do much other than potentially taking some of the attention away from the main subject. However, if the props are part of the story you're telling, then they can add a LOT of value to your pictures. Choosing them wisely is easy after you pick a theme. Let's say, if the theme of your photoshoot is "a relaxing day at the park" and it's a family session, you can think of bringing some picnic items to set the theme. Think blanket, basket, soda bottles, fruit, and the list can go on and on but it's best to keep things simple. In terms of wardrobe, for this example you'd like to make sure everyone is dressed comfortably and look natural. What would you wear for a relaxing day at the park? Answering this question will guide you in the right direction. From there, the rest is just making sure that it will look and photograph well: do your best to eliminate wrinkles, avoid stains, holes, etc. Need prop ideas for your photoshoot? I'm happy to provide some thoughts and ideas that you can incorporate into your shoot.

Organizing Your Ideas

An example of a Pinterest mood board for a candy-themed photo shoot.

An example of a Pinterest mood board for a candy-themed photo shoot.

Aha! I couldn't end this post without mentioning Pinterest in a positive way. I'm a huge fan of this tool and use it once I've already selected my theme. In terms of my process, I typically like to create individual mood boards (Pinterest boards) where I will then add pins that I can easily connect to my theme. What you end up with? A curated, relevant list of ideas that you can use on your session and are all purposeful and personal. I do understand that this part is a bit time consuming, so you can skip this if you don't need help organizing your ideas. When it does come in very handy is when you don't have everything figured out yet and still need some inspiration to plan out your ideal photo session. 

Schedule Your Photo Session Today!

Whether you're still in the planning phases of your desired shoot, or you need some help deciding, contact me today to start the conversation. I am currently offering my photography services to North Carolina clients in the following cities: Greensboro, Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, High Point, Trinity, Archdale and surrounding areas.