Tips for timing, choosing a location, outfits, and more!

Portrait Session



Whether I’m photographing your sweet family, your newborn baby, or doing a session to celebrate a special moment in your life - like your anniversary or a pregnancy, I want you to know that I’m honored to be your photographer and humbled that you’ve trusted me with the responsibility of helping you create memories you’ll look back on and cherish for a lifetime.

My goal is simple: for your session to be as fun and stress-free as possible! That’s why I’ve created this guide just for you! The following pages will help you get the absolute most out of your photos. By the time you’ve read through it, you'll have all of your questions answered and feel ready and prepared for your session! 

This guide is packed with my best tips, tricks and insider secrets for scheduling and styling your portrait session – and everything in between. Your only job is to be yourself, laugh a lot, have fun and let me do the rest! 

Remember that getting pictures done can be confusing for your kiddos if they've never done it before. Your child is in a new element and a stranger is holding a big camera in front of their face, so they’re likely not going to entirely be themselves. They may show off more than usual or your extrovert may suddenly become shy. 

Rest assured, it’s all okay!!

I grew up in a big family and have years of experience and patience with young kids. I love kids so much and try my best to make them feel as comfortable as possible -  but my biggest piece of advice is let kids be kids! I promise you will love the results.


little ones

It helps if your kids' bellies are full and they’ve had some good rest before the session. After you do your best to prepare them, give yourself (and them) some grace! I have a lot of experience working with kids, so if they’re “in a mood” or aren’t cooperating perfectly for some reason, rest assured that I’m not judging you (or them). I’ve seen it all and know how to get great photos no matter what!

My goal is to make this as fun and stress-free as it possibly can be for you and your family! This season of life feels long right now, but in the grand scheme of things, it's short. So relax, and be lovey and silly with your little fam - and leave the rest to me!


I come with all the necessary props - blankets, pillows, a basket, neutral colored swaddles, hair bows, etc. so you don't have to worry about having anything extra prepared, but we can photograph your little one in any special outfits you have picked out or even in the nude! 


This is a season when you might not quite feel like yourself. A fresh outfit you feel good in goes a long way. I've found longer, a-line dresses that are nursing friendly are often the most flattering that are available to you complimentary in my CSP Client Closet. I've found a ton of options from Amazon that come at affordable prices and ship to you super fast. Session days are also a good day to take others up on that offer to help. You are one hard working mama and if you have time to nap, shower and get ready in peace, you’re going to love these images a lot more. 

Dear Mama,


Before your break out to do a full house deep clean - drop the mop! I only need one or two rooms with good natural light where we will shoot - This might include your bedroom, the living room couch or the nursery - But truly, that's it! I know you're in the chaos of newborn life and I promise I'm not judging - and trust me, you don't even want to see my house!! 

Preparing your home


Feed and change your little one’s diaper right before I arrive. This helps ensure that they are ready to go! However due to the tiny size of their tummies, it’s also likely that they’ll need another feed (and maybe a diaper change) during the shoot.

Please don’t worry about pausing the session for the unexpected! This is totally normal! I always plan extra time for my newborns. 



Preparing your Baby

when photographing the newest members of your family, the following tips below will help ensure everyone is happy throughout the session.


a note about

Sunset & Bedtimes

In the warmer months, sunset sessions often fall during the witching hour. They may even fall during or after bedtime. 

I know how important a bedtime routine is, but in order to capture the best light during "golden hour", we're like going to need to throw off your schedule a bit. 

If our session takes place close to dinnertime, I recommend feeding the kiddos (and yourselves!) before we begin shooting. 

If your little one is going to be going to bed later, consider pushing their nap a bit that day, letting them sleep longer or packing pj's so that you can quickly tuck them into bed as soon as you get home.

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In spite of the heat, we’re big fans of summer sessions! Because of the later sunset, sessions sometimes begin as late as 7pm. If you’re taking your photos during the summer, we recommend bringing extra makeup, a pocket fan or few towels to make sure you stay fresh throughout your session! 

"If it could only be like this always"


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Fall is one of the prettiest times of the year on the East Coast and because of the perfect weather, and my schedule typically book up quickly! If you have your heart set on a fall session, I definitely recommend scheduling early or snagging a fall mini session!

"and autumn a mosaic of them all."


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If you your session takes place during the winter, we could begin shooting as early as 2:30pm to catch the sunset. I recommend dressing in layers so that in between photos you can cuddle and warm up! There is always the option of renting a studio to get those beautiful family images without risking the weather conditions

hot cocoa and cozy coats


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Even though Spring begins in March, the weather here in NC is all over the place! One day it could be 75 degrees, beautiful and sunny, the next day could be pouring rain and 40 degrees. I'll be constantly keeping an eye on the weather app, but be sure to have a back-up date in mind just in case we need to reschedule due to rain or cold. 

Fresh Flowers & Sunny Days


A few things to keep in mind during each season:


My favorite places to shoot

 The location of your portrait session is completely up to you! As you’ll see throughout this guide, most of my families love showcasing the natural beauty of our home state. For most of my sessions, outdoor, open-air environments are always my first choice. I love shooting in wide-open natural spaces because the light is incredible, especially during golden hour. There are great options all around the Charlotte area, so even if you've never seen me photograph in a specific place before, I’m always up for exploring a new spot together, or love the intimacy of a lifestyle in-home session!

Wondering it you should bring your pup to your session? The answer is always YES! I love having furry friends join us - and they are just as much a part of the family so I always think they should be included ! I also keep extra treats and a squeaky toy in my bag for all the good boys/girls. :)

If you plan on bringing your fur baby, here are a couple of tips:

- Exercise beforehand. Even just a brief walk outside could help get some energy out so no random zoomies decide to come out during out session!

- Bring their favorite toy or treats! This will help keep their attention on me for us to get the best shots. I always make sure I have extra goodies on hand too!
- Plan on having a friend or parent tag along to hold your fur baby in between shots! 


furry ones

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A good rule of thumb: pick 3 or so colors and spread them throughout the family. Don't be afraid to mix a few subtle patterns or textures (such as linen).

i always recommend going with a light or neutral colored flowy dress for women and a white shirt with dark jeans for guys. The simpler the better when it comes to your newborn session. lght blend in too much with the surroundings. White is always the best go-to! 

Choosing Outfits

for everyone

I love the way larger patterns and textures photograph - just be careful not to choose a pattern that is too small - it may accidentally make your photo look a little too busy.

Softer, neutral and pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors - especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin. Dresses with sleeves are a great way to help slim arms. Depending on your location, you might want to consider a fit and flare or a flowy dress.

Wardrobe Tips

for the ladies

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Complimentary with any CSP Signature. Maternity or Newborn session, is full access to the client wardrobe. I currently have over 30 dresses for women. Whether you use your own wardrobe or items I have, light, simple, elegant outfits provide the airy, timeless aesthetic.

I can provide consultation prior to our shoot to ensure the color scheme is something you are happy with. You will choose 3-5 dresses prior to your session for you to try on upon my arrival. All dresses will be clean, steamed and ready to go!


for the ladies

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Rent the Runway ASOS
Morning Lavender J. Crew Anthropologie Free People
Petal & Pup H&M
shop my
Claire Shiflett Photography
Pink Blush
Nothing Fits But (Maternity) Everlane
Vici Dolls
Baltic Born Clothing Madewell

Favorite Shops

Pink Blush
Nothing Fits But (Maternity) Everlane
Vici Dolls
Baltic Born Clothing Madewell

for the ladies

shop my Amazon favorites

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I think it’s so important that you look and feel your best for your photos. Investing in professional hair and makeup can go a long way towards creating photos you love for years.

Professionally done hair & makeup last longer than typical hair & makeup. They also tend to hold up better over a longer session.

If you decide to add on professional hair & make-up services to your session, please let me know and I will coordinate with one of my amazing vendors to come to your home to get you ready the morning of your session

Hair & Makeup

for the ladies

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You can’t go wrong with crisp button up or a clean, neutral colored sweater

Be careful not to choose a pattern that is too small - it may accidentally make your photo look a little too busy.

Softer, pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors - especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin. Cozy sweaters layered over button ups are a great way to stay warm and stylish during the cooler months.


for the gents

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for the gents

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Rent the Runway
J. Crew

Banana Republic
Urban Outfitters

shop my AMAZON favorites

Zara Kids
H&M Kids
Crew Cuts by J Crew

Favorite Shops

Old Navy

for the kids

shop my AMAZON favorites

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As we all know, North Carolina weather is pretty unpredictable. I'll continue to check in the week of your session to confirm the time & location we’re meeting and the weather. I know it takes a lot of time to get ready for session and it’s the worst to get dressed up and drive out to your session only to have it rain.  I want to do what works best for your family, but if the weather looks like it won’t be great, we typically try to make the call at least 12 hours in advance to reschedule for another date. Your deposit will remain as a credit on your account for 90 days. 

Inclement Weather

what to do if it rains

When it comes to posing for your session, you don’t need to worry about a thing! I’ll guide you through the entire process beginning with “poses” that are super easy and natural. If I tell you to do something that feels a little funny, it’s probably because I know it’s going to make everyone laugh - and that’s the photo i'm actually looking for! 

Throughout your session, I do what any friend would do and I’ll keep an eye on your hair, makeup and outfits to make sure things stay in place. I want you to feel as relaxed as possible and enjoy our time together! 

"What do I do with
 my hands"?

"What do I do
 with my hands"?


If you have booked an extended family session (more than one household, grandparents, etc), I have a few tips to help make photographing this larger group a bit easier on everyone. 

Extended Family Sessions 

Tips for larger groups

Please send all family groupings ahead of time so that while we’re shooting, I have a better understanding who should be photographed together. 

While you don’t need to draw a family tree (although bonus points if you do!) something like this would work well:


Grandma - Jean 
Grandfather - Max 

Sam (son of Jean + Max) and Tina.
Their Kids: Jason (10), Julianne (5) and Jack (2) 

Elizabeth (son of Jean + Max) and Paul 
Their Kids: Austin (9) and Claire (6) 

When it comes to choosing outfits for larger families, I recommend coordinating with one another ahead of time. Photographs typically come out best when families choose a color palette or a few colors over wearing the exact same thing (think: the white polo and khaki photo uniform of the 90’s.

Outfits that feel a bit special (your “Sunday best”) but that you still feel comfortable in generally result in the best images. 

 If you need any advice in this area, just let me know - I'm happy to help and provide some examples!


When it comes to choosing a location for larger groupings, there are a few extra elements to keep in mind. Locations should be easy to access, limit walking and be safe for young children. 

While we can get away with shooting small families in a downtown setting, for larger families, we’ll need a bit of space to spread out. Family homes with larger yards (and open shade), parks and outdoor settings typically work best for extended families. 


I require a signed electronic contract along with a non-refundable $100 deposit at the time of your booking to secure your date. The remaining balance will be due up to 24 hours of your session




You can expect your full gallery to be delivered via email within 2-3 weeks from your session date - but I typically send a sneak peek within 24 hours of our time together! 


In the event of inclimate (extreme cold, snow, rain, high winds) weather, we will plan to reschedule your session within 30 days of your session


I totally understand that life happens and things come up! The $100 non-refundable deposit will remain on your account to use toward a rescheduled CSP session within 90 days.


All online digital galleries include high-resolution images, a print release (meaning you don't have to get prints through just me) and unlimited shares/downloads. Your online album will remain active for one year.


If you follow me on Instagram, you know I LOVE neutral and pastel colors. I have spent hours creating my CSP Stress Free Portrait Guide as a tool for you that provides tips, location ideas and tons of outfit inspiration.

I know I just gave you A LOT to think about! Please don’t panic!! Just take it one step at a time. If you have any questions at any point, please know I’m here for you! If you’re deciding between two dresses and can’t commit, no problem! I’m here. If you love two locations but can’t make up your mind, no worries! I can help with that, too. If you need a recommendation of any kind, I’m on it! Remember, I’m only an email away :)

 At the end of the day, though, the location you choose and the outfits you wear won’t matter nearly as much as the fun we have together and the memories you make. The style choices you make will definitely enhance your photos, but the most important accessory to bring with you is joyfulness –– which is the one that makes the biggest difference in your photos anyways. You don’t need to have prior experience in front of the camera. Just show up with a smile and I’ll take care of the rest! 

I’m so excited! See you soon! 

Thank you!

- Claire