studio FAQ – how to get the best studio experience

To get the best experience at the studio, it is a good idea to see or call me to talk about your portrait before the actual session. This is the first step, the consultation is complimentary and highly recommended. Here is Map and directions to the studio  visit or call me at 831-426-1400 to go over your ideas and see some sample photos in the gallery, check out my online gallery for ideas, but some photos are only available to view in the studio. Brandon and his kids came to the studio and we talked about his concepts of a special family portrait. There is no way we can do this portrait without the consultation. “I went to Portia to shoot a unique ‘ family portrait’ involving costumes, special effects and dragons. Portia was patient with my idea and kids, and absolutely captured my vision on film! Better still she had fun with the concept and really took the time to make and improve the image I wanted. Absolutely a great experience” – Brandon,  Aptos

Unique family portrait experience and the very special result

Result of a unique portrait experience

Go shopping or rent the costume (or at least go look in your closet) for clothing that will work in your portrait. Here are tips on what to wear for your family or group portrait See here for tips on how to prepare for a successful headshot portrait.

What is the consultation session?

This is the planning session. I highly recommend everyone take advantage of this complimentary session to talk to me at the studio so we can plan and be prepared for your studio photo session. During the consultation, our discussion will include the following (don’t worry if you have no idea, that’s why we have a consultation!)

  • clothing (what to wear and what to avoid, especially in a group/family portrait)
  • makeup (if appropriate) and hair style
  • looks (by going over samples and finding what you like, dramatic or business-like, head and shoulders, 3/4 length or full length, any props?) Look at some samples from the gallery
  • goals (do you want a traditional look, a casual contemporary, glamorous, fun, etc.?)
  • products (do you use it on the web only? or you also need prints, what size? Black and white or color?)
  • any questions you have

How long is the session?

A studio session can be as short as 30 minutes or as long as you want. A standard family portrait session is 1 hour, a professional headshot session is 30 minutes.

How much does it cost?

The basic studio package for a professional headshot starts at $200 for a 30 minutes headshot session and 1 small jpeg file suitable for use on web and email, or $159 for an one hour session only for family portrait or group portrait, but some special portrait sessions have a higher rate because of props and backgrounds, then you can get either a la carte images digitally or in print or you can get a package of images at a better than individual image price.

What size digital files shall I get?

I offer 3 sizes, small, medium and large. See this page to see what size is right for your purpose.

What happens during the session?

The experience, one thing clients agree on – it is a lot of FUN  to have your portrait taken!


Portia Shao-photo-of-Tricia-400x

“Portia was lovely to work with and the results were wonderful. She made the whole process fun, gently guiding but never suggesting anything that made me uncomfortable. Her style is professional yet approachable. I’m already considering an outdoor session in the spring. Highly recommended! “ — Tricia Adams, Aptos  Portia Shao-photo-of-Jada-400x “Portia was a joy to work with. I am generally uncomfortable in front of the camera but she took her time and we ended up with some great photos. I felt she was really able to capture the feeling I was looking for as well!” — Jada, Soquel

What happens after the session?

You come back in about 1 week to view the photos and place your order. I accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, cash or check. There is no minimum order, and we guarantee you will love your portraits. This is our BE THRILLED OR BUST(tm) guarantee. The only clients I want are happy clients! You will pick up your order anywhere from 1 week to 4-6 weeks depending on what you ordered.

Call me at 831-426-1400, or email me any time if you have more questions! Come visit my studio (by appointment) to see what the studio looks like and we can go over specifics about how to create your portrait.