Before Booking Your Photo Shoot

I hate having my photo taken! 

I would say that 99% of my clients dislike and/or hate having their photo taken. This feeling is totally normal and I will do my best to alleviate any anxiety you have before/during/after our photo session. Getting your picture professionally taken should be fun and I do my best to make sure that my clients are relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera.


Scheduling Your Photo Shoot

When are your hours?

Our office hours are 10am to 4pm, Monday through Friday. During this time, we can schedule shoots, exchange emails, and answer phone calls.

The hours that Sarah does photo sessions are: 

M/W/F - 12pm to 4pm
T/Th - 10am to 4pm
Sat/Sun - 10am to 4pm

During the summer months, we shoot later into the night. We also offer studio photography until 7pm.

Do you "hold" dates?

We do not hold dates for clients. We are a high volume photography company that gets multiple requests for dates daily and books weeks in advance. Therefore, our dates are offered on a first come, first served basis. During the booking process, if you see a date you must have, we recommend filling out the intake form ASAP and emailing us right after.

When am I considered officially booked for a photoshoot?

When you have officially booked a session, you will receive a contract that includes all the details of your shoot, plus all of our policies. If you do not receive this contract, you are not officially booked. During the booking process, we may discuss times, dates, and even get close to confirming the shoot, but again, until you receive the contract, the booking is not considered official.

Do you offer studio photography or outdoor photography?

We actually offer both. Here's more on that.

Outdoor Photography Information
Most of our photography is done outside in various locations around San Francisco. Why? Because it's fun, you get a variety of different backgrounds, like graffitied walls, the ocean, the bridge, etc., and also because San Francisco's notorious "gloom" is actually fantastic lighting for portraits. You can request your own location or pick from our list of common locations like Golden Gate Park, Baker Beach, the Palace of Fine Arts, the Mission, Hayes Valley, Union Square, the Financial District, and the Ferry Building/Embarcadero.

We can obtain professional shots without a studio and amp up or play down the "artsy" or "creative" aspect as much as you like. Our outdoor portraits have been used on book covers, websites, magazine articles, and every other professional platform possible. 

Studio Photography Information
If you want a studio portrait session, you can come to our photography studio, which is located in the Outer Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco. We have multiple backdrops to choose from and the back wall is also painted with chalkboard paint, so if you are the creative type, you can draw your logo, the name of your business, or something artsy behind you. The colors of backdrops that we have are black, white, light gray, dark gray, teal blue, light blue, and pink.

Preparing for the Photo Shoot

How should I prepare for our photo shoot?

  • Practice your smile for a few minutes in the mirror the week leading up to your photo session. We encourage all of our clients to try out different facial expressions before meeting with Sarah. If you’re a smiley person, then great, but if you don’t love your face when you’re smiling big, then practice a warm, closed-lip grin.
  • Everything that goes into your mouth (food and drink) leading up to the shoot will affect how your hair, teeth, and overall complexion look, so try to avoid processed/greasy foods leading up to your photoshoot and please drink a lot of water. If you have planned a rager the night before our photo session, consider moving it because you’ll probably be a bit puffy.
  • Use a white strip in the few days before your shoot to get your teeth pearly white
  • Try to get a full night of sleep before your photo session
  • Make sure that your clothes are all laid out and ironed the night before your photo session. Cleanly pressed (and lint rolled) clothing will help your photo look more professional.
  • Have a snack 30 minutes or so before your photo session, so you’re not hungry

For Guys

  • If possible, get a haircut a day or two before the shoot

  • Shave the morning of the shoot, or be sure to trim your facial hair

  • Don’t wear a white shirt unless you plan on wearing a jacket over it

  • Bring a suit coat, tie, sweater, t-shirt or vest so we can play around with layering

For Ladies

  • You will want to have a fresh haircut for the photoshoot, so please book your session a week or two before your photoshoot. Be sure to touch up your roots!  Note: If you decide to do something drastic with your appearance leading up to our session, like chopping off all of your hair, make sure you are completely comfortable with it before getting your photos taken.

  • Take a little extra time on your hair. Use hairspray and look out for flyaways.

  • Try to avoid using any new makeup or skincare products the week before your shoot because it could lead to a breakout.

  • If you usually wear makeup, just do your normal makeup routine the day of the shoot. Nice, clean makeup photographs the best. Wear a bit more blush than your normally would and please moisturize your lips.

  • If you don’t usually wear makeup, that's perfectly fine. You don't have to wear makeup for the photos to look good, but please wear a moisturizing lip balm of some sort.

Do’s and Don’ts


  • Don’t wear a solid white top – it can make you look washed out in a photo. It’s okay to wear white underneath a jacket or sweater, but don’t make it your main color.

  • Don’t wear a bold pattern that might date the photo in the future

  • Bring at least one dark outfit or top - black, navy, or charcoal are great dark colors

  • Wear a solid top, like a plain colored t-shirt or long sleeved shirt, and bring a few options to layer on top of it. It’s also good to wear a tank top underneath everything so outfit changes can go quickly.

  • Think about wearing a shirt with an interesting neckline: v-neck, boat neck, scoop neck, square neck, or a turtleneck

  • Bring layers - cardigans, blazers, or sweaters are great things to bring to your shoot so we can try a few different things

  • On the bottom, you can wear jeans or properly fitting dress pants. Don’t be too concerned about the pants you are wearing. Most headshots are not full body unless that’s something you request.

  • Scarves are always a fun addition to a photoshoot

  •  A lot of female clients feel confident wearing a dress with pockets. Find a solid colored dress or one with a subtle pattern. 

  • Be comfortable in the clothes you are wearing and make sure that they fit well. If you love a dress you used to be able to wear a few years ago, consider wearing shapewear underneath. Shapewear can be your very best friend for a photoshoot!

  • If you have any concerns or questions about clothing, bring a few options and Sarah can help you pick out what’s best

Jewelry and Glasses

  • Don’t wear too much jewelry. Big earrings are great; just don’t wear a statement necklace, too. If you’re sentimental about a piece of jewelry, please consider wearing it.

  • If you wear transition lenses and the shoot is outdoors, consider wearing a different pair of glasses or contact lenses. You can also bring multiple pairs of glasses so we can switch them out when they get dark.

We love working with professional stylists, so if you’re really worried about what to wear, reach out to a local one and they can help you with a closet consultation and even take you shopping!

Do you offer hair and makeup services?

While we don't offer hair and makeup service directly to our clients, we do have a list of vetted artists we work with that we would be glad to recommend to you. All booking and payment is done directly with the artist. While you are scheduling your photoshoot with us, you can contact one of the stylists to make your hair and makeup appointment. Most of the time the make up artist will come to your home or office.  If you have a shoot near our studio, you will probably get your hair and/or makeup done there. In any case, all of the scheduling will be done between you and the stylist, so when you show up for your shoot, you are ready to go!

Rebecca Taff

Nikol Elaine

Stephanie Cardenas

What if it's raining the day of my shoot?

If it's raining in the city the day of the shoot, we generally wait until about an hour before the shoot to see if it's raining in the area where we will be shooting. If we decide to cancel the shoot, we will contact you by phone to let you know the shoot is off. At that point, you have two options - you can either reschedule or we can move the shoot into the studio.

What if I pick a package with two locations. Who drives?

Most of the time Sarah, your photographer, will drive you to and from the different locations, but sometimes, you may be asked to drive. This will be decided upon during scheduling.

During the Photo Shoot

What happens when I show up for a outdoor photo session?

Once we've at our agreed upon location, we will probably spend a few minutes getting to know one another a bit more before starting the shoot. We strive to create a blend of candid photojournalistic shots and posed portraits in each shoot and we're not shy at all about positioning you in the most flattering ways. We'll give you a lot of direction and provide you with plenty of positive feedback. Our hope is that when you look at your photo gallery, you exclaim, "Yes, that totally looks like me!"

What happens when I show up for a studio portrait session?

You will be greeted by Sarah or Natalie, who will offer you a drink and a comfy place to sit. If you need to go over clothing options, that will be discussed at this time. If you are having your hair or makeup done, you will sit down with the stylist. There is a bathroom where you can change as well. Please be advised that our studio is in a residential neighborhood and that we are not wheelchair accessible, unfortunately. Also, we have cats roaming around the studio, so if you are allergic, we advise you to take medicine or to schedule an outdoor shoot.

After the Photo Shoot

How can I pay for my session with you?

We accept checks, cash, PayPal, and credit cards. Checks should be made out to Portraits To The People. You can pay at the end of your shoot or use PayPal in advance.

What happens after our shoot is over?

Within 10-14 days of your session, your images will be ready to view. You will get an email from us with the subject line, “Your Photos Are Ready.” This email will contain a link to an online gallery, where you will be able to view the images and download them one by one. You will also receive a .zip file with all of your photos.

What if I need my photos back faster than 10-14 days?

We charge a $150 fee for a 24-hour rush turnaround and $100 for a 48-hour turnaround. We also offer a same-day turnaround (only for individual headshots) for $250. If you need a quick turnaround for office photos, we can discuss the fee at the time of booking.

How much retouching do you perform on the photos?

We do basic color correction and minor retouching on all photos in Adobe Lightroom, the preferred software for photography processing and editing. If you have a unique situation, like chronically red eyes, acne, wrinkles, etc. and you want some additional retouching, you can pick 5-10 photos you like and we'll include that for no fee. If you want additional retouching on more than ten of your photos, we will charge you an additional fee. We do not offer services like slimming down body parts or airbrushing, so if you want that, you can take our photos to someone else and have that done.

Are your photos in color or black and white?

In your Intake Form, you can choose to have your photos in color, black and white, or both.

Do you offer prints?

As a digital business, we do not offer prints. We recommend doing research online to find a printing services that offers the types of prints you want at the price you are willing to pay. We recommend Tiny Prints.

Additional FAQs

When was Portraits To The People established?

Though Sarah has been taking photographs most of her life, Portraits To The People was officially founded in August of 2012. In November 2012, Sarah's partner, Natalie, left her day job and took over as business manager. Natalie is your main point of contact when scheduling your shoot; Sarah takes care of the photography. To find out more about us, see our About page.