Brooke Ouderkirk’s portrait session at Fair Haven, New York.

It’s always good to have a “Plan A” but be ready for “Plan B and the Basic 5 outfits.”

I’ve worked with Brooke a few times now. Each time we get together we always get great images. It’s fun to watch her grow as a model and as a woman. This time we decided to work at Fair Haven State Park’s beach for a sunset session so we planned accordingly.

Now, I’m a firm believer in being prepared for anything. I think it’s one of the things that separates the pros from the amateurs. That goes not only for back up gear in case something stops working but also being ready for any situation that arises. For example, I always have my clients bring extra outfits that don’t necessarily work with the main idea but are good to have. I call them the Basic 5. They are:

Brooke Ouderkirk's portrait session at Fair Haven, New York by Mark Knopp

A nice fitting pair of jeans and a white shirt/blouse/tank top.

Business – dress shirts, slacks, skirts, blouses – anything that a business pro would wear.

Saturday Night Special – the thing you wear to knock someone’s socks off on a Saturday night.

Casual – Not hoody and sweatpants casual but dressy casual like khakis, polo shorts, et cetera.

Seasonal – Whatever season we’re in, bring something that works for it. Fall means sweaters and scarves, for example. Summer equates to beach and so on.

These 5 outfits should come to any and every session along with the outfits we are actually planning on using. If its a beach session I have them bring the Basic 5 plus swimsuits and anything else we might need for that.

The reason being is simple. Let’s say we’re on our way to the beach for that beach session. Along the way we come across this glorious urban scene where the light is simply amazing and there is no way it will be like this again. If we have that business outfit then we can make it work. Maybe we can make that Saturday Night Special work, too.

The point being, if we have them, we have options. If we don’t, if all we have are swimsuits, then we might have to pass up a wonderful opportunity.

One of my most popular sayings goes “It’s better to have and not need than to need and not have.” I live by this statement.

Case in point. Brooke and I wanted to shoot in a cornfield. I can’t tell you why – it just hit me. So we planned outfits for it – green corn means yellows and reds would pop against it – and found one. Well, right next to it was this field of white flowers. Delicate, white flowers that went on and on. We didn’t plan on it but there it was. Beautiful.

Luckily, Brooke had a white dress with her. Perfect. If she hadn’t had that, if all she had was the outfits we planned for the cornfield, it wouldn’t have worked. Turned out the white dress worked well in the cornfield, too. The best laid plans….well, you know.

So, after the cornfield and the white flowers we made our way to the beach. Now, keep in mind that, as you can see by the images at the beginning of the session, it was a cloudy day. There was some serious doubt that we would actually get a sunset to end our session which was the whole point of being at the beach at sunset.

Well, as I’ve learned time and time again over my years, It’s better to wait it out rather to give in. Experience has shown that, if I pack it in early, I tend to regret it. We kept shooting as the time for sunset kept getting closer. Then, at the last possible moment, literally just before the sun was supposed to set, the clouds broke at the horizon line giving us a nice, red, dramatic background to finish our time together with. Waiting was worth it.

Brooke, of course, was always worth it. I’ll end this entry with a few words from her:

“Mark is always helpful, fun and professional. I love working with him”


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