A BTS look of the photo shoot I did for sabrineinthecity.com

For my first actual blog post, I wanted to share some BTS and some of my favorite photos from my recent shoot for sabrineinthecity.com. Plus I will be sharing some general tips to help plan a photo shoot! 

Step One: Finding a Photographer 

Although I love me some iPhone photography, and even though I own a pretty decent camera myself, I wanted to hire a professional. My husband (bless him) has had to be my personal photographer basically since we’ve been together, before the days of Instagram and high-def iPhone cameras, and although he’s a good sport, he’s no professional (unfortunately for me). 

So I decided to start perusing Instagram for a local photographer. Instagram is a great way to find local businesses and creatives. Try searching hashtags like #seattlephotographer or even look at local bloggers and see who they use for their photos. (They usually tag for the most part)

After searching a few hashtags and profiles, I ended up finding two lady photogs (bonus!) and reached out. To my delight, Karya was available within a couple weeks and I was able to book my session! 


Step Two: Finding a location

After choosing a photographer, the next step is to agree on a location. Keep in mind most photographers charge to travel away from their area, so make sure you know how far they are willing to go. 

The location can be a photo studio, your home, local coffee shop, or even just simply outside. For this shoot, since I was in Seattle I wanted to take advantage of the Seattle cityscapes and maybe throw in a cute coffee shop with some laptop shots (since I work from my computer), and I wanted to embody a modern day business woman, a boss, a confident woman-in-charge, and that’s exactly what we did. 

We chose Westlake Center as our location. Westlake Center, for those that don’t know, is one of the main shopping malls in the Seattle Area. Just a few blocks away from Pike Place, you can park (you’ll probably pay unless you’re a local and know where to go) and shop all the major retailers like Nordstrom, Forever21, H&M, and more. They have an actual mall, but a lot of the stores are their own building, all “centered” in the area. They even have a Chanel in the Nordstrom (fancy!). Also, they have cute coffee shops around the stores and restaurants, etc…everything you can usually find in downtown areas. 


Step Three: Hair

For some people, hair isn’t such a big worry when it comes to planning a photo shoot. However, as any curly girl can attest, how your hair turns out the day you know you are going to take pictures is probably the most stressful part about the day. We go through questions like – “Should I wash my hair that day or the night before?”, “What products should I use?”, “What is the weather going to be like?”, “What if my hair looks flat?”. 

I know most curls would say to wash one or two days before, but I took a gamble and decided to wash my hair the day of. I usually get great results from day 1 curls, and so the biggest gamble was making sure I would wake up on time to be able to wash, style and then air dry before the pictures. For those who don’t have curly hair, drying, especially air drying can take hours, even all day, depending on your hair, the weather, etc.

So guess who had to wake up at 7AM to wash their hair?? All this in the name of beauty. I’m sure people would say thats why they wouldn’t wash the day of, but again, I wanted a “fresh” wash and go instead of a wash the night before and refresh in the morning. Ya know? 

As for products, I ended up using Innersense Beauty Conditioner, Curl Styling Cream, and Sweet Spirit Leave-in Conditioner that I picked up during the Meet the Founders event I attended at Follain Seattle. I first tried Innersense products last year when my hairstylist Daisy used it in my hair and I absolutely loved the results. When I found out that they value clean ingredients and natural beauty I was hooked! Plus they are based out of the Bay Area, which has a special place in my heart! 

I used the conditioner as a cowash. I could have used shampoo but I wanted to use Innersense products only so I used what I had. After detangling I washed most of the conditioner out with lukewarm water and made sure my hair was sopping wet before styling. I style my hair in the shower, so after rinsing out the conditioner, I immediately began styling my hair with the curl cream, by sectioning the hair into 4 sections and focusing the cream on mid hair shaft to the ends. After a few flips and scrunches, I am done with styling. Once out of the shower I sprayed a few pumps of the Sweet Spirit Leave-In and gently scrunched out the excess water from my hair. Next, I had to wait a few hours for it to fully air dry, and once dried I sprayed a few more pumps of the leave-in and fluffed and “shook out” my curls with my hands.

Luckily my hair dried in time for my photo shoot. I might be biased, but I think my hair turned out amazing! 


Step Four: Makeup

Again, depending on the person, makeup may not be a major factor for your photo shoot. For me, I decided to get my makeup done for two reasons – to save myself time, and so I had one less thing to worry about.

Getting my makeup done at MAC is something that I’ve loved doing since I was in high school. We didn’t have Youtube or Sephora back in those days, we had the MAC makeup counter at the Macy’s in the city over. But we cherished it. To this day, I love going there and getting my makeup done. All you have to do is spend $50 or so and you get your makeup done by one of the artists! Some people think they do “too much” but MAC was originally created for stage makeup, and as anyone in theater knows you gotta have LAYERS for people to see wayyyyyy in the back. But, they can give you soft and natural or bold and smoky, it’s all in what you want.

I luckily got a walk-in appointment at the MAC inside the Nordstrom’s at Westlake Center. When it was time for my appointment, I discussed the look I wanted with the MUA. For this photo shoot, I wanted to be super bronzy, and with a pop of color on my eyelids. I showed her my inspiration photos and she got to werk

Makeup done by: Meg at MAC Cosmetics Downtown Seattle


Step Five: Finding an outfit

Your outfit can make or break your photo shoot. It has to match your concept and still look high quality. Meaning even if you are doing a yoga photo shoot, you still want to wear your best leggings and sports bra.

Let me just start with this – fashion is not my strongest suit. Pun intended. I usually am comfort over style, wearing jeans and a t-shirt or rocking leggings and oversized tees at home. But for my photo shoot, I wanted to be business, but also casual, so business casual? But more business than casual. If that makes sense. I wanted to be able to use these photos for my personal and professional use, so I didn’t want to look to casual or too revealing.

The second gamble I took for this photo shoot was waiting until the day of to choose an outfit. I had tried shopping for a new outfit at a few places in the weeks before but couldn’t find anything I liked at the stores I went to close to where I was staying. I knew that we were going to be at Westlake Center, so I packed a backup outfit and hoped that I would be able to find something at the shops down there. 

This brings me back to the Nordstrom at Westlake Center. I ended up finding some really cute Sam Edelman shoes that were on sale. Afterwards I went upstairs to the women’s section and I tried to find something that stood out to me. With no luck, I searched for the closest Forever 21, knowing that they usually have cute clothes.  

The Forever21 at Westlake Center is big, and is its own building, just across the street from Nordstrom’s. I found this cute orange sweater that perfectly matched my bronzy makeup look, and these nice pair of black paper bag waisted slacks and immediately tried them on. Within 15 minutes, I had my outfit picked out and I was ready to go. 

Step Six: Taking the pictures and uploading your content

Taking pictures is the fun part, unless you’re shy in front of the camera. Oddly enough, I can be camera shy sometimes. Not that I don’t like taking pictures, I just feel almost embarrassed if that makes sense?? Like omg, am I doing this right? But then you realize there is no “right” you just have to enjoy yourself and smile, and the pictures will turn out just fine!!

Being the “model” for your own brand/business is hard. Not only are you the model, but you’re also the creative director, stylist, assistant… you name it. Sometimes you’re even your own photographer! You have to know what shots and looks you want to create and be able to articulate that to your photographer so that they can (hopefully) capture the shot you’re looking for.

Hiring a professional photographer helped alleviate this situation because I was able to tell Karya what I was looking for and ask her to offer some suggestions for poses that would look good with the outfit, location, and vibes we were trying to go for.

Also the benefit of hiring the photographer is that you don’t have to edit any photos yourself. The downside to that is that you usually only get a certain number of photos depending on the agreement. That’s the thing about photographers – they are a business, too. So they need to be paid for their services. And they have contracts that dictate what you can and can’t do to the pictures, etc. So if you are wanting free range and all of the RAW images from your shoot, keep that in mind when hiring a photographer.

That being said, since I did hire a photographer, I didn’t have to edit my photos. Karya sent them over to my email with a nice easy link to my final photos. From there, I downloaded them to my computer and uploaded my favorites to my blog and social media.

Final Thoughts:

Okay, so I know maybe went out of order, or skipped a couple steps, but this is how I did everything. Maybe you have an outfit or a location already in mind or the concept but now you need to plan your next steps. Photoshoots can be (and should be) extremely fun, but they do take a lot of time and effort to plan, style, prep, shoot, edit, and upload, etc. Everything worth it is never easy though, am I right?

Have you done a photoshoot before? What were your steps in preparing? What is your favorite part about planning/doing photoshoots?

Thanks for reading, here are a few more of my favorite pictures from this shoot. Talk soon!

XO, Sabrine

Photographer – Karya Schanilec
Outfit details –
Pants: Forever21
Sweater: Forever21 (not the same one but I found a similar one)
Heels: Sam Edelman from Nordstrom’s (sold out on their website but I found them here)
Backpack: Guess (from 2017)