Embarking on a visual journey behind the scenes, this blog post unveils the intricacies and nuances of a day in the life of a portrait photographer. From capturing genuine smiles to navigating the technicalities of the craft, join us as we explore the dynamic and fulfilling world of professional portrait photography.

Blah blah blah. Enough of the sugar coating.

Do take note: MOST portrait photographers only have one session a day and MOST do no more than 3 sessions a week during the busy season unless they have hired staff to assist with the tasks of customer service and editing. a day of mini-sessions is considered ONE session. People came to you, the set was the same only the faces changed. They create more back-end work but as far as a session count…a mini-session event is ONE session.

The behind-the-scenes work that photographers are responsible for often goes unrecognized. Here is our chance to shed some light!

The Average Morning Prelude:

The day begins with a shower if you are lucky, a cup of coffee, a moment of quiet reflection, and a review of the day’s schedule. Transporting kids to school, work, or activities, walking the dog, and making lunch for the spouse. Last night’s dishes need to go in the dishwasher and you need to pull out something from the freezer for tonight’s meal. Full-time photographers don’t have the funds for nannies or maids. If you have a morning session you can add Preparing camera gear, checking batteries, and ensuring everything is prepped and ready for the day ahead.

6:00 AM – Morning Sessions:

The sunrise morning session involves outdoor shoots, taking advantage of the soft morning light of the beautiful sunrise. From solo headshots to family portraits, each session is a unique opportunity to create meaningful and lasting memories. If you are a studio photographer, your day doesn’t begin until around 9 am, and usually with a 4-hour-long newborn session. The studio is hot for the baby who is naked on the posing table. The baby sound machine is lulling everyone asleep. You silently pray that this baby doesn’t have colic and that mom and dad brought their patience because you can’t rush a newborn.

Noon – Long day Interlude:

As midday approaches, the photographer is often running errands. Doing the bookkeeping, and making phone calls to vendors and prospective clients. Take-out food is usually in order as the lack of sleep from getting up at 5 am is starting to drain the energy from your body. If you are a studio photographer you are using this time to do some sessions or clean and organize the cluttered prop closet. If you are lucky you can upload some images and do some culling before it’s time to pick up the kids.

2:00 PM – Mom’s taxi is back in service:

School is letting out and kids must be picked up and transported to their extracurricular activities. More caffeine is needed to keep going. While the kids are practicing their pirouettes and karate chops, you are on your phone confirming your next client’s appointments, giving wardrobe consultations, responding to emails and ISO posts in all the mom groups, making social media content, and paying for ads. Our work is not steady or guaranteed and there is a ton of competition. You have to stay on your A-game to win over the next gig.

4-6:00 PM – Sunset Sessions:

The golden hour beckons and the photographer heads outdoors for sunset sessions. The warm, ambient light creates a magical atmosphere, enhancing the beauty of outdoor portraits. Subjects are bathed in a soft glow as the day transitions to evening, providing a picturesque canvas for capturing stunning images. If you live in the south you are probably being eaten alive by the noseeums. You reassure the clients that you CAN photoshop away all the bug bites as you swear to yourself…NEVER AGAIN! Studio work is all you want to do!

7:00 PM – Dinner, homework, laundry, and baths:

As the last rays of daylight fade, it is time to make a meal, help the kids learn fractions, throw in a load of laundry, and make sure everyone is bathed and ready for the following day. They are winding down, but you are not. As soon as these little boogers go to bed, you have a date with Adobe! Hundreds of photos are waiting for your attention as yesterday’s client just texted you asking if their session is done yet, even though the contract said 10 days. Time to pour some wine, put on your PJs, and turn on your new Netflix binge….we have a long night ahead in front of the laptop!

9:00 PM-1 am – Post-Production and Social Media:

Evenings are dedicated to post-production tasks, including finalizing edits, preparing galleries, and planning social more media content. Engaging with the online community, sharing reviews, and showcasing the day’s work contribute to building a strong online presence, which is required if you want to keep the lights on next month! Your spouse is getting worried about some upcoming bills and asks what your income will be in the next couple of weeks…to which you can not predict. No stress. You got this. Believe in yourself. If you create it, they will come. Right?

1 am-2 am – Reflection and Planning:

Between the days caffeine and the blue light from the electronics you have been staring at, you can’t fall asleep. You reflect on the day’s accomplishments, challenges, and lessons learned. You get brilliant ideas for mini-sessions and ads. Your mind is in overdrive but your body is waving the white flag. Luckily for you, there are no sessions on the books for tomorrow so you can take a nap in the middle of the day. But then you start stressing about the next paycheck, feel like a failure, and work yourself to exhaustion scrolling Google and YouTube on the iPhone under the covers so you don’t wake the spouse…..trying to figure out SEO and why the phone doesn’t ring like you think it does for other photographers. Eventually, you pass out.


Being a full-time photographer and business owner does not mean you are doing photoshoots all day, 5 days a week. There are slow periods and busy periods. There may be weeks or months when you have no work at all. It’s the life of a starving artist: feast or famine. You don’t go to the salon, you buy box dye. You don’t go on fancy vacations or buy designer clothes. You can’t afford a babysitter, and you rely heavily on your spouse financially and emotionally. You willingly sacrifice a lot for the love of the camera. You have dreams of being financially secure and well-renowned. A 9-5 job with an employer would be a million times easier, but it is also soul-crushing. You are an artist. You feel like you have to create proof of your worth just as you have to breathe to live. You can’t just turn it off. You can’t give up. Others will not understand. You will subconsciously allow others to make you feel like a failure because your job doesn’t operate like theirs. Imposter syndrome, doubt, and dreams are what you eat for breakfast. You are not alone. Artists across every medium also feel this way. Stop being so hard on yourself. You know your purpose and that’s a gift. Now get out there and outdo the photo you took yesterday!

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