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What Being Late To Your Session Really Says

Updated: Sep 4, 2019

Miss Cara Photography Photographs Couple at UIndy
(C) Miss Cara Photography

There are times that we cannot help being late due to some unforeseen fate that impeded our best ability to be on time. That being said, some people live a lifestyle of lateness and never feel remorse for making others wait.  Let me publicly acknowledge that a photographer can tell the difference between these types of people. Although we still warmly greet our clients after waiting an hour, (because we strive to arrive earlier than early ourselves), inside we're still human and it bothers us.

For those who have fully embraced and accepted their late lives, here's how everyone else feels:

"Arriving late is a way of saying that your own time is more valuable than the time of the person who waited for you." - Karen Joy Fowler

If you're perpetually late it can be hard to imagine actually being somewhere on time. That being said, I want to help you keep the photographer that you've worked so hard to find (based on your style preferences), pay (fitting your defined budget), and reuse (because dang, that was a lot of work!).

By completing the items below, your photographer can begin to classify you as "rarely late" versus "perpetually late" and will know when you've taken the time to strive toward punctuality. After all, whether you realize it or not, we can always tell in your photos if you are relaxed or stressed and that's not something we can Photoshop.

Confirm times

If your photographer doesn't message you leading up to your session, be proactive about confirming the DTL (date, time, and location). Then move to step two.

Set alarms

Based on your DTL, set a few alarms to help you meet your ETA. I even endorse lying to yourself about the the time to add more cushion.

For example, imagine that the location is twenty minutes from your house and your session begins at the golden hour. According to your photographer this will be around 7am. You'll have to pay a parking fee when you arrive and find a place to park. It's on a weekend and you anticipate the area to be a bit busier during your arrival. You are to then going to have a five minute walk to your meeting point with your photographer. There will be an outfit change during the session so you'll also need to pack a change of shirt for your spouse, a dress for your daughter, and a dress and shoes for yourself.

We base our alarms on backdating.

- 6:50am arrival (remember, we lie to ourselves for added cushion!)

- 6:45am begin walk to meeting location from parking location.

- 6:30am arrive at location and pay to park, find parking spot, gather all bags/keys/props.

- 6:10am gather all session items and leave house to arrive at session location.

- 5:10am wake-up alarm #2 (because you love to sleep in).

- 5am wake-up alarm (first, check that you don't have a text from your photographer concerning any weather warnings, emergent rescheduling, or the like. You'll also need to do your hair, makeup, have breakfast, and get your daughter ready before you can leave).

Be Prepared!

Leading up to your session you'll want to be sure that you're set for success! To get the most out of your session, take time to do you prep work!

  • Think about where you're having photos taken. Will your outfit style align with the location? For example, if you're going to an industrial style building you may want to think about wearing hues that will balance with exposed beams and metal. Adding neutral colors with textures like lace, sheer layers, linen, and the like will help draw variety to individuals without overcompensating with bold colors.

  • Consider the weather. If it's going to be 35 degrees you don't want to wear a sun dress. If it's going to be windy you may want to wear your hair up. Is it humid? Play off of your strengths like embracing your curly hair. This is incentive to slate your session during a time of year that aligns with the weather you appreciate most or that is friendliest with your hair.

  • Choose your outfit. be sure to purchase or wash any necessary items before your session date and have them laid out or packed in the bag that will accompany you on the day of your session. Sometimes it helps to search for color palettes online. See what colors are complementary and which ones clash. When in doubt, reference a color wheel or opt for various shades of the same color. I always start by selecting colors that show off my skin tone, eyes, or hair best.

  • Don't underplay ambiance. If you're having a sunrise or sunset session, embrace flowing fabrics that allow light to pop through and create a warm, soft vibe. If you'll be inside with controlled lighting and a muted background, wear something with clean lines and a bold color. Will the setting have warm lighting? Play it up with colors that accentuate the warm tones and keep you from looking orange.

  • Consider your shot list. Did you and your photographer talk about the types of images you wanted from your session? If you want to be sure you incorporate new combinations (mother-daughter, father-daughter, daughter portraits, mother-father, entire family) be sure to jot them down and share them with your photographer before your session begins!

  • Pack the car. Gather all of the things you'll need for your session and put them in the car so that you can streamline your exit the following morning.

  • Shower, wash your hair, etc. Be sure you've got a fresh palette to work from when you wake up. Buy yourself time by having half of your getting ready routine done so that you can guarantee being on time! Don't forget to go to bed early so that you look refreshed and relaxed for your session!


"Better late than never, but late is never better."

Also remember that your photographer is a trained resource in ^^^^^ all of that. Reach out for their advice if you need help. They secretly love feeling their expertise is needed.


For more articles on photographer and client etiquette, visit the categories tab of my blog!

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