All About Portrait Sessions

Part 1


Seniors, Couples, Families, and more!


I’m so excited for your portrait session! Whether I’m photographing your sweet family or your graduating senior, or doing a session to celebrate a special moment in your life, like your wedding anniversary, I want you to know that I’m honored to be your photographer and humbled that you’ve trusted me with the responsibility of helping you create memories you’ll look back on and cherish for a lifetime. 

My goal is simple: for your session to be as fun and stress-free as possible! That’s why I’ve created this guide just for you! The following info will help you get the absolute most out of your photos. By the time you’ve read through it, you'll have all of your questions answered so you feel ready and prepared for your session!

This guide is packed with my best tips, tricks, and insider secrets for scheduling and styling your portrait session –– and everything in between. Your only job is to be yourself, laugh a lot, have fun and let me do the rest! I can’t wait to get you in front of my camera and I’m so excited to see you soon!


I photograph portrait sessions the way I like to be photographed myself: outdoors, in natural light, because I love images that are clean, bright, fresh, real, and timeless. Images that look and feel like you! That’s why I begin all of my sessions 1-2 hours before the scheduled sunset –– during the magical “golden hour” –– when the light in the sky is the softest, dreamiest, and most flattering.

You can use a sunset calculator online to determine the scheduled sunset for the date and location you’d like to do your session (a lot of weather apps have this, too). Then, just subtract two hours to figure out your approximate session start time. If you’re wearing one outfit, we’ll start your session about 90 minutes before sunset. When scheduling your date, it’s important to remember that the sun sets much earlier during the colder months of the year and much later during the warmer months, so make sure to factor that in –– especially if you have small children with a specific eating or sleeping schedule, or if you (or your spouse) will need to leave work early to get ready for the session and arrive on time. If you don’t have plans after your session, I always recommend going out for a fun date night since you’re already dressed up!

My weekends fill up fast and far in advance, but my weekdays are much more flexible. So if you’d like to do your session sooner rather than later, scheduling mid-week is the way to go!

Planning Your Time

When you’re planning "getting ready" time before your session (scheduling your hair, makeup, etc.) please give yourself a lot more time than you think you'll need. Make sure to account for things like traffic, getting lost, and parking. So you can prevent unnecessary stress, arrive a few minutes early to your session, and be ready to start on time. I’m only able to shoot when light is still in the sky, so we’ll want to take advantage of every minute we have together before the sun goes down!

Choosing the Location(s)

The location of your portrait session is completely up to you! As you’ll see throughout this guide, most of our clients love showcasing the natural beauty of our home state. For most of my sessions, outdoor, open-air environments are always my first choice. I love shooting in wide-open natural spaces because the light is divine, especially during golden hour. There are great options all around the state, so even if you've never seen me photograph in a specific place before, I’m always up for exploring a new spot together!

Think Outside the Box

When it comes to choosing a location, don't be afraid to think outside the box! I encourage you to brainstorm unique places that you might have special access to that most people don’t. For example, maybe you (or someone you know) have access to an amazing location that would otherwise be off-limits, like a beautiful private estate, family ranch, exclusive country club, or luxury resort. Spend a few minutes thinking about it and checking around with people in your personal and professional network. You’ll be surprised with what you come up with! If something seems out of reach, just remember: you never know until you ask! You can also consider Airbnb or other property rental sites. In the past, my clients have secured permission to shoot in some pretty incredible places!

If you need some location ideas and inspiration, I have plenty! Check out my Instagram @stephaniecoulterphotography and my blog here. If there’s a certain session you really love, just let me know which one, and we can try to go to that location!

Destination Locations

Your portrait session includes my travel time anywhere in the Kansas City Metro & Northwest Missouri areas. If you’d like to go somewhere else in Missouri or Kansas, I’m up for the adventure! If you’d like to shoot outside of the city, like in the Flint Hills of Kansas, for example, there will be a travel fee to account for the extra hours of drive time there and back, the time required beforehand for me to scout locations, and the overall longer session time. For destination sessions, I allow three hours (instead of two) so we have enough time to drive to multiple scenic spots. 

I've done portrait sessions from Plattsburg to Overland Park, everywhere in between, and even on the beaches of California!

If I’m already going to be in or near an area you’ve always dreamed of doing your photos, and we can coordinate our schedules so we can set it up! I’d love to meet you somewhere beautiful and make it work! If you’d like me to meet you in a destination outside of the Kansas City area for your portrait session where I don’t already have plans to visit, just let me know and I’ll send you a custom quote.

But Wait...There's More!

Next up, styling!