Thank you for booking with Vanessa Houk Photography!  I look forward to capturing you!  We will have a good time and there is no need to stress about getting good photos.  Bring me a positive attitude and they will be great! Here are a few frequently asked questions and tips to help you prepare. 


Outdoor Sessions (families, lifestyle headshots & senior portraits):

Picking a location:
Most people over analyze this. Most of the photos we will be closer up. We will definitely get some shots with backgrounds, but it's not the majority of the time.  My recommended locations are always great because I'm familiar with them and it allows us to move quicker and get more shots. 

Locaiton Suggestions: Old Town, McMurray Natural Area, CSU Powerhouse Building/Whitewater Park, The Environmental Learning Center, CSU Perrenial Gardesn (early fall), Horsetooth (add $50), Spring Canyon Park, Rolland Moore Park. 

What to Expect:
I pride myself on making the process of taking pictures quick, fun & easy! We will meet at the desired location, exchange some hellos, I will ask you if there are any expectations or specific photos you want & we will start shooting. If you are doing group shots, we usually do the large group first unless the participants are straggling in. If everyone is not present at the start of the shoot, we will start with some smaller combinations. I shoot until I have all of the combinations I am looking for. At any time feel free to offer your ideas or suggestions. I will ask you at the end if there are any more combinations you were hoping to get. In larger families, I do rely on you to make sure we get every combination. I can't predict that you want a photo of grandma & Aunt Sallie together. :)
While some people love a long photoshoot, I realize the average person isn't too excited about a 2 hour session, especially dads & high school boys. There are different packages for this reason.

Families with small kids: Little kids can be all over the place with photo sessions, so I encourage you to have a playful attitude and hold loosely onto your idea of the perfect image from Pinterest.  The more fun you are having lets the kids do their thing and it shows in the photos.  I try to get the group family photos first while the kids are more into what I'm doing and are a bit more shy.  From there, we do different combinations and individual shots.  I use off camera lighting for most of my photoshoots, but sometimes with little kids I turn that off and just chase them around to capture cute pictures.  I'm not worried about getting all of the shots we need, but know most kids don't do exactly what you want them to. :)  Gummy bears can be a good thing to bring.  They are easy to give as a reward and they don't make teeth turn colors or leak chocolate onto their clothes.

What to wear:
This is the most common question I get and most people over think this! 

Basic Rule for multiple people: Choose 2-3 colors and neutrals (like white, navy/denim & khaki).  No more than 1/3 of the clothing pieces patterned.  Do not blend black & dark brown or black & navy.  I suggest looking through my website & seeing what look you like. I don't suggest everyone wearing the same color, but every time families show up with all white or all black, the pictures turn out great. So, don't stress about it!

For Family photos: Pick mom's outfit first. Mom needs to feel comfortable & beautiful or it just adds to the stress of getting 'the perfect photoshoot'. Too often we find something adorable for a child & then stress out to match everyone else around them. If you can easily coordinate with the child, great. If not, bring that outfit along & we can do separate pictures of your child in the cute outfit.

Think about the background color:
In snow, don't wear majority white.  In fall, watch out for too much yellow.  In summer, watch out for too much bright green.  In spring where we get the beautiful tall brown grass photos, don't wear browns. 

Clothing No-nos:
Do not wear shirts with words or bright neon athletic reflective shirts.  Loud running shoes can be a huge distraction in the photos.  Consider doing some of the photos barefoot as a family to take away the footwear distraction.  The exception would be for high school seniors looking to portray a look.
Women: Stay away from poofy down vests unless you have a very small frame.  Arms tend to look larger in photos, so if you are critical of your arms, avoid sleeveless.  The trend of cut out shoulders isn't the most flattering unless you are a small person.  Pick clothes that flatter your body not what's trendy.



Senior Portraits: 

The above information is for you, but here are just a few items.

Should parents/friends come along?  A lot of senior portrait photographers do not want parents there. Personally, I love when parents come.  I feel like it is such a sweet time for parents to watch their child and admire them as they have come to this point in their lives.  I like input from parents so I can make sure I'm getting what you want.  Please be aware of your interaction with your child and if you are being too bossy or stressful.  Take this time to enjoy your kid, make them laugh and just soak in this moment in time!   Please let your child do some of their silly/ridiculous ideas even if you think it's a waste of time.  Boys especially will like a shoot more if they are engaged in that way. If your child has a sibling or a friend that helps them feel comfortable and will really encourage them during the shoot, they are welcome to come along.  I usually make them help me out by holding a light or something so they aren't just standing around. 

Can I show you my ideas? Absolutely.  I do ask that you share those with me before the shoot so I can let you know if they are realistic, help me know what kind of lighting set up I will need and to let you know if I'm not the photographer for you.  Example: if you only like really washed out photos, I will refer you to someone else.  My work is very true to the work on my site.  Please let me know if you are planning to bring large props, want photos with your car, etc.  If you have no ideas, I'm great with that.  I love having full creativity!  

How many changes of clothes can I bring?

1 hour shoot: 1 full change of clothes & up to 3 different shirt/jacket changes. 

2 hour session: just double the one hour session.  

Parent/teen clothing disagreements:

The fun of senior portraits is self expression, so let your teen pick at least one of their favorite outfits.  Teens, keep in mind that your parents are paying for these photos and so working with them to get one outfit you both agree on is fair.  Pick clothes you feel good in, that fit your body well and that be embarassed by when these photos show up in your wedding slideshow!


Studio Headshots:  

What to expect: I have a small headshot studio in my home.  You will pick your background color prior to arrival.  I use a constant LED lighting system for my headshots and they are super bright!  I direct you as I take shots of you at different angles, we preview the images, narrow them down, re-shoot if need be, you pick your images before you leave and tell me what edits you would like.    I edit them and send them to you in high resolution downloadable format.  Studio headshots are my only photos where advanced retouching is included in the price. 

What to Wear:

Women: Keep jewelry to a minimum. Stud earrings look best. Bring different necklines if you are not sure what to wear. Solids look better than prints. Make sure your shirt is ironed/steamed and free of stains and pet hair.  I recommend buying a new top that is crisp off of the shelf for headshots.  If you have the 1 hour session, you can start light with makeup and add more as we go.

Men: Take a good look in the mirror and check those nose hairs, trim those stray eyebrows and clean up the stray beard hairs. It's always a good idea to shave your neck if you have a beard or the stubble look.  This will make your jaw line more defined. Make sure your collars are ironed and shirt is free of pet hair.  If you must wear a t-shirt, make sure it looks fresh or new.  Lose the undershirt for business shots.  No reflective active wear or neon polo shirts. If you have the 1 hour session, you are welcome to come scruffy if you wear that look sometimes & shave half way through.

All Sessions: 

If you are not the most slender:  Stick to solid colors or smaller prints.  Women use jewelry for pops of color.
Do not wear a poofy down vest! Sometimes these look better in the mirror than they do in photographs.  Bare arms always look larger in photos, so avoid sleeveless if you are critical of your arms.  Wear Spanx under your clothes.  Buy something new so you feel great!  

Advanced Retouching Extra Fees:  95% of people do not want further editing, but incase you do these are my options and fees.   Combination of any of the following will be discounted as well as if you are wanting an entire album edited.  I will deliver the photos to you and you can pick specific photos to be edited in this way:

-Acne removal: $5/photo

-Teeth whitening: $5/photo

-Shine reduction: $5/photo

-Skin color blending: $10/photo

-Stray hair removal: $10/photo 

-Slimming face/body: $15/photo

-Wrinkle remover/reduction/softening: $15/photo

-Skin resurfacing (for someone with damaged skin due to acne scarring): $30/photo

Major acne, stubble, extreme shine, shadows, uneven light and some other things cannot always be fully retouched. 

Make up: 
Feel free to wear as much make-up as you feel comfortable with. Apply makeup as if you were going to a wedding, dance or nice event. If your skin is splotchy or you have a lot of acne, it is much easier to blend it if you have a good layer of foundation applied.
For longer headshot sessions it is easier to add makeup than to tone it down.


Glasses: Anti-glare frames are the best because we can move around freely without having you change your position based on the glare in your glasses.  Photo greys/photochromatic lenses/transition lenses: please avoid these at all costs.  Almost every lighting situation will make your lenses dark.  

Hydrate:  Peeling or dry skin on the face does not photograph well.  Make sure you use a good moisturizer for a week ahead of time if you deal with dryness.  Same rule applies to the lips.  Vaseline applied on the lips and nose a few days in a row before a shoot can do wonders.

DO NOT WEAR SUNSCREEN! I use mostly off camera flash for my sessions and sunscreen will be reflective and create shine on the face.   If your foundation has SPF, either tell me or invest in one without for the shoot.

Beware of Mineral Makeup: Mineral makeup also has reflective qualities.  If you can find another makeup for the shoot, I recommend it. 

If it's a windy day, use hairspray:
It's usually a bit windy in Northern Colorado, so a little hairspray can be your friend. If it's one of those crazy windy days, we might reschedule.


I will send you an invoice prior to our session.  You can pay online through a link in the invoice.  It is Wepay which is paypal.  I prefer a check or cash at the shoot itself.  I also take Paypal or Venmo.  If the photos are ready to be delivered and payment has not be received, photos are watermarked and blocked from downloading until the payment is complete.  Corporate companies who have requested and W9 are given access to the photos since it takes 30 days for accounting to cut checks. 


Print Purchases:

Prints are optional.  You may order them through the link you are given.  They come from Miller's, which is the industry leading printer for professional photographers only.  They are true color and extremely high quality.  I recommend ordering prints from me if you are going to hang them in your home.  A print release if given in the email with your photo link.  Use this if a printer asks you for the release.  I retain the right to use any photo I take for marketing purposes.  Photo release does not include the right to sell your photos or use them in print advertising without consent.