Wardrobe – NO PRINTS, NO PATTERNS, NO FLORALS! This recommendation is intentionally at the top of the list. The attention should be one you; your clothes should merely be there and not stand out or compete for the viewer's attention. Stick with solid colors and earth tones. Warmer colors should be muted (mustard yellow, rather than lemon yellow and maroon, rather than fire engine red).
Undergarments – Bra straps won’t do anything to help your outfit look its best. Be sure you bring a set of bras and/or strap-adjusting accessories to work with any selected outfit to keep straps well-hidden.
Hair – If getting a hair cut for your session, do so a week, or two, prior, just in case something goes wrong. For men, a fresh cut a few of days prior to your session is fine.
Hair accessories – If we’re shooting outdoors, be ready to put your hair up and take control of it in case of a windy day. Bring bobby pins, hair clips, headbands or any other favorite accessories. Fun hats also work to control fly-away hair.
Red eyes – Visine is your friend.
Lips – You will probably wipe or lick your lips during your session, so bring fresh lip gloss or lipstick to do touch-up. Use lip balm for a few days in advance of your shoot to make your smoochers look their best.
Teeth – If you want to brighten your smile, start your treatments about two weeks before your session.
Breakouts – Start using African Black Bar Soap for a week in advance of your shoot to limit pimples and blemishes. Equally important, don’t cake on a lot of makeup to try to hide blemishes. It’s usually easier to Photoshop away pimples than to clean up overdone makeup. For fever blisters, avoid getting them in the first place, then use Abreva if one pops up anyway.
Make-up – A subtle application of makeup can really soften your skin and accent your facial features. But make sure you know what you’re doing, and make sure it matches your skin tone, or your face may look orange compared to the rest of your body.
Facial hair – Men, be freshly shaved. Trim your beard, sideburns, mustache or goatee, especially looking for stray hairs. Ladies, even if you have some light facial hair (particularly around your lip or chin), indulge in a waxing in advance of your shoot – even barely-there light facial hair will be noticeable in your photos. Men and women both, pluck and clean up those eyebrows.
Moisturizer – Dry skin can detract from an otherwise great photo. Start moisturizing nightly a week in advance of your session. When you get out of the shower, dry off until lightly damp, and slather on moisturizer. Focus on your arms, shoulders, neck, face, hands, anywhere you’ll be exposed to the camera. This includes your legs if you’re shooting in shorts or a skirt. Also, be sure on your face to use a facial moisturizer, not a thick body moisturizer, or you could break out. [Us men, of course, are most in need of this advice, especially around the face and hands.]
Nails – A fresh coat of clear nail polish or THIN French Tips will make a world of difference in your photo session. Freshen the morning of the shoot, then be careful not to scuff it while prepping. Your photo session is a great excuse for a fresh manicure, but if you can’t go to the salon, make sure your nails look tidy and clean, including the cuticles. Properly-applied glue-on fingernails show up great in photographs.
Sun burns and tan lines – If your shoot is booked for Saturday, don’t go to the beach on Friday. If you plan to tan before your shoot, do so at least a week beforehand and don’t get burned. Be mindful of clothing tan lines, sunglass tan lines, hat tan lines, etc.
Ironing - Iron and then hang the clothes for your session. If wearing something that wrinkles easily, don’t wear it on the way to the session – just change at the location.
Shoes – Ladies, can’t go wrong in heels or wedges. Men, clean’em up! Dress shoes are best, but as with most things, let your momma or your wife decide.
Glasses - If folks wouldn’t recognize you without glasses, wear them for your session, but ensure they are adjusted properly, so they're not sliding down your nose and clean them prior to your session to get rid of smudges and fingerprints.
Bloating – Ladies, avoid high salt and high fat foods for two to three days in advance of your shoot. Being bloated will sap your confidence and comfort in front of the camera.
Clean nails and hair, wipe away eye boogers, clean feet (sandals on kids = black feet!), wipe snotty noses, fresh-scrub teeth. The cleaner the kid, the better the photos.
If your child is still in diapers or pull-ups, tuck’em in or wear bloomers.
If your child is still of napping age, make sure they nap before their session.
It is perfectly okay to bring bribes to a photo shoot – given a stage and being the center of attention, it’s like our kids know exactly when to act their worst. Some cereal, smarties or other candy that won’t stain teeth can help their photo session go smoothly.
Avoid colorful drinks or lollypops within 24 hours of your shoot, don’t let them eat or drink anything that will stain their face, teeth or mouths.
Wardrobe – For girls, you can’t go wrong with cute dresses, rompers, and dainty hats. For boys, jeans and polos or a button-up shirt, or a T-shirt with a button-up over it can be very cute, as well as overalls on the right age and personality. For siblings, the children don’t have to match perfectly, just coordinate. You can’t go wrong with dark, rich monotones, which drive the attention in photos to sweet faces and darling expressions instead of loud prints or colors. If nothing else, pick a color that compliments your child’s eye color.
Dad – Have a fresh shave or trim and make sure nails are clean and trimmed. Wash your hands. Clean up your shoes. Moisturize and scrub away flaky facial skin (see above General advice). When you wash your face, pay attention to eye boogers and sleep crusties. For wardrobe, go for jeans or pants, tucked polo or dress shirt with a belt, or go casual with just a T-shirt or untucked polo, button-up short sleeve, etc. In general, whatever your wife tells you to wear. Again you don’t have to perfectly match the rest of the family, just wear something that coordinates.
Mom – Women know what to wear, but in general, unless you are extremely thin you may want to wear something that covers your upper-arms. Long- or 3/4-sleeve tops are very flattering. Avoid jewelry, as it can get twisted or hang at an awkward angle and, even in the best conditions, draws attention away from your face.
Kids – Same advice as above, but again, everything needn’t match, simply coordinate with the parents’ outfits. If Dad’s in a T-shirt, don’t put the kids in dress shirts – make it make sense.
The biggest tips for seniors are to have an even tan, don’t get sunburned, clean and freshly-paint those nails, and moisturize and scrub away dry skin.
Bring a variety of outfits – cap and gown, something casual, something stylish, ladies slip a dress in there to throw folks off, fellas try a formal look to impress. Wear what you think you look best in, but take the opportunity to also try a new look, just to surprise folks.
Bring props that recall your high school years – band instrument, sports gear like a volleyball or baseball bat, your beloved (or cursed) high school car, letter jacket, sunglasses. Most of all, rep your style, whatever that may be. Your senior photo should be unique to your life and personality.