Cynthia Viola Photography

engagement photos

Downtown Charlotte Engagement Session | Amy and Jeff

Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.
— Wayne Dyer
Uptown Charlotte Engagement Photos

Charlotte gets extremely hot and humid in the summer months so I suggested Amy and Jeff do a sunrise session instead of sunset so that they weren’t completely melting in every photo, and boy am I glad they agreed. It was around 95-100 degrees every evening the past week but only 75-80 in the mornings! Still warm, but definitely manageable.

I remember asking them about their proposal story when we had our first conversation and they were a little shy about it, saying their proposal was not picture perfect. Apparently he was really nervous and she had had a bad day so it “just sort of happened” but it’s anti-climatic nature has given them something to laugh about for a long time, they said. I have to say that I just LOVE that they have such a great attitude about it. I knew right away we’d be a great fit because of it. The truth is, things simply don’t always go the way we plan and when we have unrealistic expectations, we are often greeted with disappointment.

We discussed this often as we had to keep adjusting the engagement session when weather and locations fell through but they maintained a great attitude the whole time. I know the big day will be a breeze. (Even though that too is up in the air, as their venue fell through recently and they’ve had to postpone!)

Uptown Charlotte Engagement Photos

They didn’t have any real specific plans for the photos, all she knew was that she wanted photos in front of this adorable confetti hearts wall downtown as well as the magic carpet mural. So of course we started there, then just explored the city. It was perfect.

Uptown Charlotte Engagement Photos

Right as we were about to move on to another location, a train passed by! I told them to jump together real quick and I’d try to catch it! They nailed it of course.

Uptown Charlotte Engagement Photos
Uptown Charlotte Engagement Photos

You guys I’m so excited I get to be a part of your big day (whenever that happens!) You are simply perfect for each other and I know we’re going to have so much fun!

Jetton Park Engagement Session | Sarah and Davis

Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
Be foolishly in love, because love is all there is.
— Rumi
Engagement photos at Jetton Park

When Sarah told me she smiles like Chandler on Friends, I couldn’t help but laugh. This beauty couldn’t be awkward if she tried. With a big bright smile all morning she kept looking to Davis as if to ask if she was doing it right, and all he could do was give an even bigger smile in return.

These two met at UNC Charlotte and dated for a couple years before Davis surprised her with a proposal at one of her bucket list spots! Shenandoah National Park! How amazing is that?!? (If national parks are on your bucket list, we’re a perfect match by the way)

Engagement photos at Jetton Park
Engagement photos at Jetton Park

We had to reschedule a few times because the weather kept being uncooperative but it was totally worth it as yesterday morning was incredible! They rolled up bright and early and even brought me breakfast since we were getting such an early start, such a thoughtful couple!

As they were talking about their future plans I couldn’t help but smile since they’re similar to mine. Lots of dogs were involved and possibly a cat, they might have envisioned a farm, but no matter what was discussed, they were together. As they should be, a perfect match if I ever saw one.

Engagement photos at Jetton Park

You guys thank you so much for including me on this journey of yours! I cannot wait til the big day next April!!

Love for my LGBTQ Friends

Portraits, Wedding PhotographyCynthia ViolaComment
Creativity is born of risk and refined from failure... This is the courage of the artisan - to know ourselves and be true to that knowledge. The artisan rejects all that makes us false and takes the huge risk of being true... There is no riskier way of life than the artisan way. Anything less is just existing
— Erwin McManus
Lesbian Wedding with flower girl

At the beginning of the year, as I was moving to Florida, I posted a blog about things I'd learned living in North Carolina. One of those things was the beauty of the LGBTQ community.

They'd taught me so much through the years and I'd wanted to give back. I vowed to give away a portrait session, or $500 off a booked wedding to one couple every month in 2018. I've posted several of them here already and some I'm sorry to say I was unable to post due to job constraints and some still having to live in fear of persecution. That said, I thought it would be fun to recap as best I could in a final post, to show the love that flows through us all equally. I'm so incredibly grateful for so many new friends. 

And yes I realize there are more than 12 couples here, so sue me ;)

In January, I met up with Joshua and Daniel on a trip back to NC, they met me downtown in the brightest colors I've ever seen and we had an absolute blast. 

Gay Couple Shoot in Downtown Raleigh

In February I attended a Rainbow Wedding Expo in St. Augustine where I was able to meet several new couples, fueling the following months, but I headed back to NC again in the cold and rain to capture Becca and Katie at their home with little Vivi. They made me breakfast and we talked for hours. I adore them. 

Photo shoot with Lesbian couple and daughter

As a bonus, I got to spend some time with them again in the fall after they moved to their new home in Charlotte!

LGBTQ Family of 3

Two different March couples fell through multiple times, so I planned to catch back up with them later in the year. April involved a couple I love and have known for years, we'll call them Steve and Dave; they came to St. Augustine to visit and stayed with us for a night, taking us to dinner and everything, it was so great to catch up. Unfortunately, Steve's job is yet unaware of his orientation and he would likely be let go. Ergo I won't be posting them here. Suffice it to say, that they are both incredible human beings who have done immense good in the world. 

May's shoot actually fell through as well, as Florida went through several torrential downpours, one actually resulting in massive hail damage and a neighbor's house catching fire from a lightening strike! So the May one will show up shortly as well. May did consist of Tiffany and Carlie's 5 year anniversary, that was not actually a part of the giveaway, but you should definitely go see all their cuteness anyway.  

June introduced me to Sam and Jess, who met up with me at the St. Augustine Pier, then afterwards took me to breakfast where we discussed relationships and faith and change. It was beautiful. 

LGBTQ Engagement Session

In June I was also able to make up for one of the earlier reschedules in one of the most fun photo shoots of my life. I had shot Anse and Allie's proposal, engagement and wedding last year and for their anniversary they thought it would be fun to go camping and capture all the fun in that setting. I was SO excited! We met up at a Roan Mountain State Park campsite, and I just captured everything from building the fire to roasting s'mores to snuggling in a hammock. It was glorious. 

Camping photo shoot

In July I drove up to Myrtle Beach, SC to capture the birthday party of an old friend and while there had the pleasure of capturing Sherry and Becky again! I'd shot their courthouse wedding three years ago and it was just a couple weeks shy of their anniversary! 

As and added bonus at the birthday weekend, I got to meet so many new friends and capture their beautiful relationships as well. :) This is Lisa and Jeannie, Tomi and Angie, who were all about adventuring with me on the beach for some portraits.

In August, while I was in Asheville to race the Spartan Super, I met up with Cindy and Marianne, who run the Rainbow Wedding Expo. We were able to get some fun anniversary and family photos in the Botanical Gardens. 

Asheville Botanical Gardens LGBTQ photo shoot

Fun fact: they both planned a secret proposal to each other years earlier on the same day! They knew it was meant to be when they both showed up with a ring! They were on a bridge together and wanted to recreate the moment at the shoot. So fun!

 In September I was busy moving back to NC and Hiking the Appalachian Trail, but I more than made up for it in the fall.

October is wedding month and as such, I was able to shoot Christy and Tina's big day as well as Jeff and Jeff’s. They had a fun-filled days surrounded by so many of their beautiful friends (who I’ve also included, because I can) ;)

LGBTQ farm wedding
LGBTQ wedding
LGBTQ couples

Additionally, while shooting Jessica and Jeff’s wedding this summer, I met and fell in love with the adorable relationship between Ryan and Henry. I loved they way they danced and generally interacted with each other and everyone around them. We caught up on Facebook afterward and I asked if they’d be interested in a shoot. Their 5 year anniversary was coming up so they were all for it. They even took me out for tacos and tequila after! So much fun!

LGBTQ couple downtown raleigh

In November Sandra and Caitlin married in Saint Augustine and I was able to capture them afterwards at Washington Oaks Garden with their little Mari who stole my heart instantly. She loved them both so much and loved helping me find the best spots to pose them.

LGBTQ wedding at washington oaks garden

When April, one of my former students contacted me to say she was interested in a shoot, I was of course, all about it, but when she said she needed to clarify and make sure it was ok that it was an engagement shoot…with another woman, I was simply heartbroken. That she had to clarify with me tells me I have a lot of work to do still, and that she had to clarify at all means we all have a lot of work to do. If people are not free to be themselves 100% of the time the rest of us suffer because of it. The world needs people who think outside the box as well as those comfortable inside it. We need every race, every gender, every background, every experience, every story.

April and Reese were supposed to meet up with me in Asheville this weekend but it didn’t work out, so I’ll have to share their story next year, in the meantime, here’s a few other couples along the way at family gatherings and paid shoots and weddings who I can’t help but thrown into the mix, if for no other reason than to show just how many unique and beautiful people there are in the world and that love knows no bounds.

LGBTQ couple portraits

I received a bit of push back from my own family and former clients who did not approve of this endeavor in the beginning. I lost a few relationships, and a few clients but what I've gained is immeasurable love and acceptance from a community I adore with my whole heart. I wouldn't change the decision for anything in the world. I hope that this small offering can help others take off blinders and see only love.

I am grateful to everyone who has been patient with my own journey through the years and who has helped formed my current world view. May we all continue to grow in love and welcome people different from ourselves into our lives. Allowing our hearts to love bigger, deeper, stronger and wider will never shrink who we are or pull us into darkness. It will serve instead to propel us forward into the light where we all see our mutual flaws and idiosyncrasies and stand united on common ground.

To dare - is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare - is to lose oneself
— Soren Kierkegaard

St. George Street Engagement | Kendall and Alfred

Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
Love isn’t losing yourself. Love is finding who you are in the arms of another person
— Marisa Donnelly
St. Augustine Engagement photos

You guys, I had so much fun last night! Kendall and Alfred drove down from Raleigh to have an engagement session here in St. Augustine with their sweet pup Macy and we had a blast! We had planned to start on Saint George Street and move along to the beach, but we were having so much fun there they decided to buy a couple drinks and cigars and just hang in the city. We were so glad too because one of Florida's daily rain storms rolled in when we were finishing up and we got trapped under an abandoned house's garage over-hang to stay dry!

It's always fun to walk around a crowed street and take portraits while people bustle by because it captures a moment in life that shows no matter how many things or people are trying to distract your attention, you only have eyes for your love. It's also fun because sometimes people see you being adorable and say things like "what a picture perfect moment you guys!" and you get to say, "we know!" and point out your photographer hiding in the bushes. Haha! 

They will be eloping to the gorgeous cliffs of California in March then coming back here for a Trash the Dress Session and I cannot wait!! Kendall said she doesn't let her adventurous side out much but she wants to let loose for a day and I couldn't be more happy to help her do it!

St. Augustine Engagement photos
St. Augustine Engagement photos
St. Augustine Engagement photos
St. Augustine Engagement photos

Thank you guys for letting me participate in your St. Aug adventure! Can't wait til the spring!

If you enjoyed this you might also enjoy this St. Augustine Trash the Dress Session or this St. Augustine Engagement Session

Alpine Groves Engagement | Beth and Sean

Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do rather than the ones you did
— Mark Twain
Rainy engagement shoot

It has been nothing but adventure with these two from the moment we met. Beth and Sean actually won a session with me right when I moved down here last year. I was trying to get to know new families and couples and we hit it off right away! Hurricane Irma had just swept through leaving behind scattered storms and a billion mosquitos so we got to know each other real quick as we sat in the car waiting for a particularly heavy storm to pass. (In Florida, I learned very quickly, you just wait out the storm, you rarely need to cancel the shoot).

 Their first couple photoshoot  involved dancing in the rain and this one was no different. You could say they're pros by now, but it's important to know how to take on less than pleasant situations with your love. How you handle them together will either grow your relationship or hurt it. These two don't seem to even blink when life throws crazy at them. I know they're going to be amazing together for life. 

They've been dating for 5 years, and still blush when the other gives them a compliment. I love it. We attempted to stay dry with the umbrellas at first, but eventually just let it go, there was no use. Nothing makes me happier than a couple willing to let loose and just let life happen. The images are more real and the memories lasting. After all, there's nothing memorable about a shoot where you did everything you were told, smiled when you were supposed to, and nothing went wrong. You'll end up with pretty images, but they won't tell a story. The story comes in the pouring rain and the wet feet and failed "Dirty Dancing" jump attempts. It comes in the secrets given and laughter shared.

I'm grateful for you both Sean and Beth! Can't wait til April!

Rainy engagement shoot
Engagement shoot in the rain
Engagement shoot in the rain
Engagement shoot in the rain

If you enjoyed this you might also enjoy this rainy couple session, and this one at North Beach Pier

 

North Beach Family Photography | Joey, Daniella and Isabella

Family Portraits, Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared
— Buddha
Family Engagement Session

I love it when a photo session can double as both family portraits and an engagement! These two cuties met in high school and have been inseparable ever since. With little Isabella sitting up now and their June wedding fast approaching, a photo session was a must!

We had planned to shoot at Vilano because of the beautiful rocks and such but it was just too crowded so Joey said he had access to a secluded entrance to North Beach and off we went! I could not have been more excited as we pulled in. Huge Oak trees towered over the entrance with beautiful trails and a nearly empty beach with dock. Perfection.

Family Engagement Session
Family Engagement Session

From promise rings to engagement rings, and now little Isa has one too. SO precious.

Family Engagement Session
Family Engagement Session
Family Engagement Session
Family Engagement Session
Family Engagement Session

It was just so sweet watching little Isabella's toes touch the water and the sand for the first time. It's too bad it was freezing or she probably would have jumped right in! Thank you guys for letting me capture such a special moment for you! Congratulations!! 

You might also enjoy photos from these two family/engagement sessions: Jordan & Alex and Jessica and Jeffery

Amy and Owen Engaged at NCMA

Engagement PortraitsCynthia Viola2 Comments
We loved with a love that was more than love
— Edgar Allan Poe
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session

Amy and Owen were a dream to work with. Not every couple is excited about the idea of making out in the bushes of a public park; it can take some time to get warmed up to the idea even if you are madly in love, but these two were naturals right away. They were so in sync, most of the time I felt like I was working with just one person. From their excellent verbal communication to body language and subtle looks, they knew just how to blend right into each other. 

The NC Art Museum was a perfect backdrop not just for it's beauty but for it's connection to their story. Long walks here in their early days was a seed for their love to grow and I love that they included it in their engagement session. 

NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session

For their save the dates they used a selfie taken in front of the famous rings on the museum grounds; It was a special moment for them because it was the first time they declared their love for each other. They wanted to recreate the image on this session which I thought was super powerful, because an engagement is nothing if not a declaration to the world that you love this one the most. 

NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session
NC Museum of Art Engagement Session

Toward the end of the session we were quite literally chasing daylight. The Art Museum's grounds are quite large and walking from one area to the next can take a surprising amount of time. We kept having so much fun in one spot we'd forget we needed to move on in order to fit it all in! Oops! No worries though, these two were beautiful in front of every backdrop, and I cannot wait to explore Downtown Raleigh with them on the big day! 

NC Museum of Art Engagement Session

I had so much fun you guys!! Thank you for everything!

Pullen Park Engagement | Anna and Anthony

Engagement PortraitsCynthia Viola2 Comments
Once in awhile, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale
— Anonymous
Engagement session Raleigh NC

You guys I am so in love with these two cuties! Oh my goodness. Anna and Anthony are two of the SWEETEST people you will ever meet! They met at NC State while studying accounting and are generally a little quiet I would say, but you get them talking about how much they love each other and their dreams for the future together - they light right up. Would you just look at these smiles! 

Engagement session Raleigh NC

Seriously though...

When you've found the one your heart loves it really doesn't matter what you do, so long as you're together. These two totally rocked their engagement session and I am ecstatic about their River Ridge wedding this October! We had to postpone a couple times due to rain but Pullen Park was just perfect this time, and we're hoping all that previous rain was to ensure it won't be raining in October ;)

Thank you Anna and Anthony! I had so much fun adventuring with you, totally worth the wait!! 

A Wedding Proposal at Pullen Park!

Engagement PortraitsCynthia Viola6 Comments
When you meet the one who changes the way your heart beats, dance with them to that rhythm for as long as the song lasts
— Kirk Dietrich
Wedding Proposal at Pullen Park

Ok. So. You know I love weddings. You know I love engagement sessions. But oh my goodness! I LOOVVVVEEE secret proposals where I get to plan and scheme with several people in on the secret and then hide in the bushes while it all plays out perfectly!!

When Matthew called me to see if this was something I'd be interested in I jumped at the thought, rearranging other things I'd had planned for the day and calling Damien to make sure he could video.  Matthew had arranged for his friend Trey to fly in from Atlanta to play the saxophone in the middle of Pullen Park while they were walking around and as they got closer to him he would switch songs to "You Are So Beautiful" and Matthew would pop the question. Damien and I would of course be capturing every moment from the bushes. 

Hollie was ecstatic! They were just supposed to be up here on a Valentine's getaway weekend and she had NO idea. It was amazing. As Damien, Trey and I ran around the area trying to get everything set up several people started asking what was going on and when I told them, THEY got excited and by the time Matthew and Hollie came around the corner there was a whole crowd of people waiting in anticipation for the moment and when she said, "Yes!" everyone erupted in applause! AMAZING!

Ok, without further ado, here's a few of my favorites from the big moment! 

Hollie's family was hiding in the bushes as well and came running to congratulate them. She was SO sweet with her dad, I almost couldn't see to shoot through the tears! I know I'm going to just be a hot mess during the father daughter dance at their wedding!

Wedding Proposal Pullen Park
Wedding Proposal at Pullen Park

They both have purity rings and hers fits so perfectly with the new engagement ring. So sweet. I'm so glad we had some blooming trees to work with, the day was perfect in every way.

Wedding Proposal at Pullen Park
Wedding Proposal at Pullen Park
Wedding Proposal at Pullen Park

Preparing for Your Engagement Session

Engagement Portraits, Wedding PhotographyCynthia ViolaComment
Love doesn’t make the world go ‘round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile
— Franklin P. Jones

The first thing to remember as you arrive for your engagement session is that this is supposed to be fun! We'll have plenty of pressure from timelines and schedules on the wedding day, no need to be stressed now. These sessions usually take anywhere from 1-2 hours depending on how far we walk around and how many outfits you have etc. But if we knock it out in 45 minutes that's totally fine, if we need an extra 30 it's totally fine. Just be prepared to roll with it. 

This is our chance to get to know each other well before the big day so that we're both comfortable when we do have the time crunch. Feel free to ask as many questions as you like and know that I'll do the same. When you learn how I work and the types of poses I'm likely to move you into, it'll make you a pro on the wedding day. It also gives me a chance to see how you two interact together. If you don't enjoy kissing in public, or prefer not to sit on the ground, it's better for me to find out at this session rather than when I ask you to do so on the big day. :)

1. When to plan your session. Time of year is totally up to you, though, if you book your wedding out far enough, a lot of couples like to choose the opposite season of their big day. If you have a fall wedding then a spring engagement etc. Regardless of what month you choose, we will always, only shoot at either sunrise or about 2 hours before sunset. This ensures golden light that will make all your images dreamy and romantic. 

2. Outfits: Most couples choose 2 outfits, one casual to start and one dressier as you get more comfortable with the whole flow of the session. Once you've gotten used to the idea of a camera in your face, you'll warm up to the more romantic poses. That said, if you prefer one outfit or three, I'm perfectly ok with that. You can see my post HERE to see ways to coordinate them.

3. Location. I always recommend choosing a location that is important to you if possible. A family farm offers legacy, the place where you actually got engaged or had your first date can be a great way to capture that memory, or just a place that you find beautiful can ensure beautiful backdrops for when you print them for your home. If you can't think of any places like that, or you're not from the area where we'll be shooting, have no fear, I have a long list of places that are wonderful and I'm happy to check out a spot in advance if I'm unfamiliar with it.

4. Trust me. I certainly do not expect you to be a professional model. I will guide you when you need it and give you the freedom to be yourselves as often as you let me. I have hundreds of posing ideas floating around up there and am perfectly happy guiding you into them, I also really love letting you interact in your way. It always takes about 15-20 minutes to warm up to the idea of making out in a public space so we'll work up to it slowly and have some fun along the way. I'll never make you do something you're uncomfortable with. 

5. Drink ALL the water. Think a gallon a day every day for a week leading up to it. (and then every day after that for the rest of your life) ;) It's not only healthy, but for the purposes of the shoot, it will get rid of dark circles under your eyes. 

6. Prepare your fiance'. Sometimes one person is really excited about the photography portion of the wedding, and the other is well, not so much. They may be planning to show up, smile at the camera standing in 2 or 3 locations and then calling it a day. If they aren't prepared when I tell you to snuggle or nuzzle, they may not know how to respond. I recommend choosing your top 3-5 favorite images on my site or blog and showing your fiance' so you're both on the same page when you arrive. If you're going to err on one side or another, over communication is usually a good bet. (Feel free to use that one as a general marriage tip as well...you're welcome) ;) 

It can also be fun to practice some of the snuggling and flirting in advance... just sayin ;)

7. Ring, Hair and Make Up. Some ladies like to take this opportunity to get their hair and/or make up trial arranged with their stylists so they can see what they'll look like on the big day as well as taking the pressure off of preparations for the engagement session. Certainly not a necessity, but if you're having a trial anyway, this is a good time to do it. (This or the bridal session if you choose to add one). There will definitely be photos of the ring, so it's a good time to get it shined up as well. 

And just for fun, here's a few couples showing off their snuggling and flirting skills both at their engagement and their big day. Have fun!

Rudi and Nick Engaged! Beech Mountain, NC

Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment
Everyone deserves someone who makes them look forward to tomorrow
— Unknown

When you first meet your love on a boat, you know the relationship is bound for grand adventures. After their first encounter, they quickly discovered a common love of Zac Brown Band and from Miami to Banner Elk and back, the rest is history. 

With wet dew on every blade of grass and brisk mountain air keeping us on our toes, we explored several nooks around Beech Mountain with breath taking sunrise views for these images. If you want to ensure this glowy light in your images, you just have to make sunrise happen. It's early, but it's worth it every time. 

One of my favorite moments from the day was when we were walking across Beech Mountain Club's golf course and they shared what made them want to spend the rest of their lives with each other. Rudi expressed that Nick takes care of her really well and he said that her strengths fill in his weaknesses perfectly. Love that. 

Nick and Rudi were never without a smile on their faces and so much fun to explore with. I hope you love these two and their gorgeous Beech Mountain engagement as much as I do. Enjoy! 

Btw...their hashtag is #nudiweds...isn't that adorable?!?

 

8 Tips on What to Wear for a Portrait Session

Family Portraits, Portraits, Engagement PortraitsCynthia ViolaComment

What do you wear when you want your engagement or family session to represent your personalities but also be beautiful but also comfortable but also.... 

It can be a little daunting trying to choose the outfits that will represent you in your home, on Facebook, in your grandma's living room for feasibly the rest of your life. Seriously my mom keeps these ridiculous 14x16inch glamor shots of me at EIGHT years old, front and center in the living room. Think 90s poof hair with 90s poof shoulder pads and MAGENTA. Omg. 

Nobody wants to end up on the cover of Awkward Family Photos. I am no fashionista, but I'm here to help. I have shot hundreds of family and engagement sessions and I've seen all the things.

1. First and foremost. Don't feel like you have to do any of these things or anything you've seen on Pinterest. I would rather you be YOU 100% of the time because you'll be more comfortable, and that will produce genuine smiles. 

2. Your colors don't have to match (everyone wearing the same thing) in order to look nice together. Variety actually brings out individual personalities and helps everyone feel more comfortable "in their own skin." 

3. I am personally a huge fan of solids because it distracts less from your pretty faces, that said, throwing in a pattern or two is nice to break it up. 

4. If you're going to wear two outfits, one dressy and one casual for example, it's nice to have both sets of outfits coordinate (as if all the outfits were in the same photo at the same time) so that when you make prints and hang them on your wall later they will match. 

5. I wouldn't argue too long with your child if they really want to wear something different or hold their favorite toy in every photo, happy smiles win out over matching outfits every time. 

6. Nothing looks better in a photograph than bold color. While you may want to use mostly neutrals like grey/tan/brown/white, throwing in a colorful accessory or shoes will add life to the image. 

7. Don't over think it! If you want to buy a new outfit for the occasion you are certainly more than welcome to, that can make the session fun. However, I've found simplicity to quite beautiful, relaxed and natural.

8. If you're willing, I may guide you into a seated or laying position on the ground. Depending on how the session is going and if your attire allows for it, so keep this in mind when choosing your outfits if this is a direction you would like for your session.  

Above all else, just plan to have fun. We will play around with different ideas and explore different areas. 98.5% of the people I work with are not professionally trained models with fashion stylists living in their closets, they're just everyday people with a wide range of personalities and stories to tell. Just bring yourself, prepared to live in the moment and I'll worry about the rest.