Kristin Smith’s amazing sunrise beach session in Virginia Beach.

Preparation and mindset are the keys to any successful photo session.

So many things are swirling around in my head right now as I try to write this entry about my session with Kristin Smith. She was amazing. Stunning. Graceful. Gregarious.

But I have to be careful as I don’t want to set this up as a rare occurrence with a one-in-a-million kind of person. Which she is, don’t get me wrong. But the reason why this session was such a success was because we both came prepared.

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We talked about this session well in advance. I took notes. We went over details about what kind of outfits should be brought. She even snapped pics in the outfit candidates and sent them to me. This cut down the number of unusable outfits that had to be lugged back and forth from the surf line outfits plus I could formulate a game plan. She had everything packed and ready to go.

Hair and make-up options were also discussed.

The point of all that was that she knew she had what she needed for the session and could relax a little more.

We also talked about any body image issues that might cause apprehension. It’s probably the hardest topic to talk about as we are our own worst critics when it comes to our appearance. I think it’s a vital topic that should be discussed as, once any concerns are voiced, I can actively work against highlighting them. I instead concentrate on accenting the positive aspects and make them shine.

Yes, Kristin had concerns about certain features. She’s human, after all. We all have them. No, I won’t go into them here. That is very personal information. She trusted me with her inner feelings and I won’t break that pact.

If I photograph an “issue” they are going to see it no matter how well I try to explain to them that it’s not. I have, in their mind, just confirmed their beliefs.

So the outfits, poses, camera position, and the lighting are designed to emphasize the “good” while concealing the “issues”. There is no high end Photoshop trickery here. I do not shave off 20-30 lbs or anything of the sort. You are seeing Kristin here as I saw her that morning. A radiant example of womanhood enjoying her experience in front of my camera. At 530 am, none the less.

From time to time during a session I will show the client an example of what I just captured. I always watch their face when I do to see if I’m doing my job right. The first time Kristin took a look I could see apprehension leave her face. It was replaced with confidence, satisfaction, and fire. I would show her a couple more times during the session and each time she became more bold, more radiant. She truly believed in herself.

It was amazing to watch her bloom.

A good photographer can take a good picture. It takes a team effort of a photographer and the subject to get a great image. With a little preparation and faith, we can create magical images like what you see here.

Mark Knopp is a Virginia Beach-based portrait photographer, with over 25 years of experience, covering the Hampton Roads community. Contact him today at mknopp1@cox.net for your portrait needs or if you would like to learn more about photography.

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