Five Tips To Keep In Mind When Choosing A Photographer

June 7, 2019
JC Phelps of JCP Eats

Hey, y’all!

I rarely show the work that goes in behind the scenes here on the blog; while I often get questions about it, I have left many topics unaddressed. It is my goal to be more transparent + to show y’all what, how, and why I do what I do – I mean, in all reality, y’all are the reason that I am here. For that, I am eternally grateful.

While you often see photos of my finished products in the kitchen, snaps of my international travels, and documentation of my life here in Kentucky, it is important to note that one aspect is much harder to capture: branding portraits of – you guessed it – me, myself, and I.

I can tell you so many horror stories from photoshoots that I have had.

I’ve stood on surfaces that were, at best, questionably able to hold my weight.

I’ve been put in positions that are uncomfortable at my height, a cornbread-fed 6’4″.

I’ve been asked to stand/pose in situations that make me feel claustrophobic due to my body size + my broad shoulders.

To understate, I’ve left many a shoot in tears (and I’m still traumatized from some of them, in all honesty).

This struggle led me to, quite literally, fearing photographers. I decided to start taking my own photos + entrusting my nearest and dearest friends with the task. While I am immensely grateful for those that have helped me (and continue to do so – it wouldn’t be possible without y’all!), it is not the same as having a true professional behind the camera – one that understands you, your vision, your perspective, and, in my case, your body.

Want to avoid the same trauma? Fear not — I can help.

My Five Tips To Keep In Mind When Choosing A Photographer: 

1. Choose a photographer that evaluates your needs before the shoot.

Not all shoots are the same. You might need just a couple of shots or you might need to shoot a multitude of outfits; your shoot could be 30 minutes or 3-4 hours. It’s important to discuss these points with your photographer beforehand to ensure that both parties are on the same page. Failure to do so can lead to financial discrepancies and situational pressure. When a photographer properly addresses and evaluates your needs, a mutualistic, symbiotic relationship forms.

2. Choose a photographer that understands why you hired them.

Maybe you need a photo to send your grandmother; maybe you need a headshot for your LinkedIn; maybe, if you’re like me, you need photos that capture you + your brand authentically. All of these can be easily accomplished; however, the photographer needs to be fully prepared to address your needs. If photographers don’t discuss this ahead of time with their clients – or if you don’t make your needs known – it is possible that they will be inappropriately prepared on the day of the shoot (equipment, backdrops, lighting, shoot location, props, etc).

3. Choose a photographer that asks you about your preferences; while they have the talent, you know yourself better than anyone else.

We all have preferences when it comes to our photos. I don’t take a lot of photos while sitting down; if I do, it has to be from the right angle. On the topic of angles, I definitely have a preferred one (from above). Since I am so tall, that sometimes requires the photographer to stand on an elevated surface; however, by having this conversation with your photographer, they will be fully aware of how to please you, the client. Similarly, you will be more comfortable during the shoot, which will lead to a better end product.


4. Choose a photographer that hypes you up during the shoot.

I find it awkward to just smile, take directions, and – when needed – be told what to do. My awkwardness then reflects in my photos. Thus, for me, it’s important to be submerged in a warmer environment when in front of the camera. This can come from the photographer muttering, “Yasssss, queen!”, “You better work!”, “Slay!” while you strike a pose — or it can be, of course, more understated, depending on your personality. As silly as it sounds, having a photographer that hypes you up really enables you to bury your insecurities and focus on the task at hand.


5. Choose a photographer that celebrates your body through photos; the shots are the art and you, my friend, are the muse.

This, to me, is my most important tip. Whether you are a size 2 or a 26, a size XS or 4X, you are beautiful. You are to be celebrated. You are worthy of a photoshoot — better yet, you are worthy of being the star of a photoshoot! As a plus-size blogger, I would be dishonest if I said that it’s always easy. My body – in and of itself – is a point of debate. That said, when hiring someone, that shouldn’t be a thought that even begins to cross their mind. You are a princess, a prince, a beautiful creature — and it’s so important to choose a photographer that catalyzes those feelings for you.


With these tips in mind, I can assure you that your next experience with a photographer will be better. You’ll be more comfortable. You’ll have better communication. You’ll love the deliverables .

That said, if you are one of my Kentucky followers, I have one extra recommendation. If you do not know where to start, I cannot recommend working with Sarah Caton from Space, Place, and Southern Grace Photography enough. All of the photos that you see in this post are from my most recent branding session with Sarah & were shot in Corto Lima in Downtown Lexington, KY.

There are many words that come to mind when I think of Sarah; however, above all else, two resonate the most: genuine + professional. However, I am also proud to be her friend  of almost a decade.

Sarah and I met when we were Governor’s Scholars at my alma mater, Centre College. From there, she blossomed both academically and professionally at the University of Kentucky; she is a successful blogger, photographer, and published author. Casual, right?

While all of that is impressive, her character impresses me most. She is kind, thoughtful, and honest – all of which reflect in her photography sessions. In accordance to my tips, we talked about exactly what I needed prior to shooting, we discussed my branding needs, I mentioned my preferences to her, she made me feel incredibly comfortable throughout the shoot, and she honored and celebrated my plus-size body in the shots.

Some photographers see my body and try to hide me; Sarah, on the other hand, illuminated me. I have full confidence that she can – and will – do the same for you.


If you are located in Kentucky and need any type of photography package – portraiture, branding, wedding, graduation, you name it – look no further than Sarah. I say that will full confidence.

You can find Sarah’s photography page here (slide into those DMs!), her website here, more info on her photo packages here,  and her blogger Instagram page here.


As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,


FTC: This is not a commissioned post; in exchange for photos, I provided an honest review. All opinions are my own.


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