I am not sure how other photographer's plan for sessions but I begin by getting to know a bit about the client's interests. I let that marinate in my mind for a few days. Eventually I'll get an idea - sometimes it's just a hint of an idea. I will then start doing research.I look for inspiration based on the information that I have and a theme begins to emerge. These concepts begin to dictate the types of props and wardrobe needed to pull it all together.
Most sessions require more than one look. Therefore this process has to be repeated for each set, wardrobe, and prop change.
For instance, a client came to me for family portraits. She had a particular vintage-y line of clothing in abundance. I spent 3-4 hours pouring over the site putting together looks so that the children wouldn't look too matchy-matchy nor too busy or contrasting. Because time was of the essence (I didn't have time to wait for items to be shipped) I had to hand make accessories (25 frayed fabric roses to be exact) mustaches, eyeglasses, and lips on-a-stick. I also made a vintage style banner strung on twine to display the family's last name. I purchased bushel baskets from a local antique store with over a dozen apples.
Next I had planned vintage finds with petticoats and satin sashes. The client was supposed to get the pettiskirts and I was instructed not to buy them. The night before the shoot - NO PETTICOATS. I had already planned and purchased props for this look. Soooo, I spent an evening at the mall desperately searching for any kind of petticoat or crinoline for little girls. Out of options and out of time, I had to concoct pettiskirts made out of slips that were not even available in the girls' sizes. An evening of sewing-on-the-fly for me. Floral wreaths and vintage hats were purchased at antique stores to round out the look.
Later that night, I head over to my studio to spend the night as it's 30 minutes away from where I live. I pack the car up with all the props (if on location) print out inspiration guides and make sure I have yummy snacks on hand and bottled water.
The actual session is a juggling act. Trying to get everyone to relax and be natural. You've got to be a comedienne and a conversationalist all in one. All this while trying to adjust settings for creative exposure,bokeh, lighting, focus and composition. Coming up with a variety of poses and angles that flatter. Whew.... I'm worn out.
Lastly comes the editing. I usually spend no less than 8-10 hours on editing. I know that I shouldn't spend this amount of time but I really enjoy expressing my creative point-of-view during this process. The images are then uploaded to online galleries for viewing and custom products. The CD's are sent in custom packaging with handmade touches.
Ahhh... a day in the life
The petticoat slip before...
...now proper pettiskirts with dupioni silk sewn to create the skirt waist
Frayed Fabric Roses