Its always a good idea to have a visual concept in mind before going to your photoshoot. Make sure you have a few images you like that you can show your photographer. This will help you get the most out of your own photoshoot and guarantee that you are on the same page with your photographer and that you will be very happy with your photographs!
As a photographer, I always look for new inspirations. I keep folders in my office and online which I stuff with inspirations. It doesn't necessarily need to be wedding/engagement/family photos. They could be perfume ads, architecture, interior design images, landscapes, cultural items, color palettes, paintings, art, etc., anything that expresses a certain mood or style that could inspire photography.
If you are unsure of what you want, then follow these steps:
1) STYLE Think about what your personal style is.. are you romantic? Classical? Humorous? Fun? Easy-going? Urban? Suburban? Chic? Casual? Upscale? Country? Organized? Chaotic? Spontaneous? What defines you?
2) LOCATION Where and when are you the happiest? Indoor? outdoor? Are you a morning person or night person? Rain or shine? If you are having an engagement or wedding shoot, think about where you feel the most connected to your partner. On the beach, in a restaurant, in a club, in a park, at home, or in the city?
3) THEME & MOOD Now you start connecting the dots for your visual concept! Say for example, you are spontaneous and love the upscale city lifestyle, then you might like to have your photographs on high street, dressed in your night-out wardrobe. Instead of posed shots, you might prefer spontaneous snapshots of you and your partner interacting in the city which defines your style! If you are romantic and casual and love the outdoors, then you might enjoy a beach or park photoshoot around sunset, semi-posed, dressed in your casual Saturday afternoon wardrobe!
4) BRINGING OUT YOUR INNER SELF Now you should have a good idea of your concept and what you want to portray in your photographs. You know your style, your favorite place, and the theme and mood you want to portray. This is when you start collecting images and ideas that are similar to what you are looking for. Notice the location, weather condition, poses of the models, colors in the image, props & accessories, and wardrobe.
5) CONSULTATION Your photographer should be able to advise you on how to best capture the imagery you are looking for. Ask about the best time of day, specific location, what wardrobe to bring, as well as any props to bring to the photoshoot.
6) RELAX, ENJOY, and BE NATURAL Most people freeze up when there is a camera facing them! These photos are about you so you should relax and be yourself. My best piece of advice is that you should forget and ignore the camera at all times! There is also a stigma around the word "pose" since no one wants those old fashioned boring stiff type of photographs. Rest assured, a "pose" only means that you've been guided on what to do, and the level of how much guidance you need is up to you. YOU should run your own photoshoot, NOT your photographer.
I hope that these steps put you in the right path for your perfect photographs. If you need any advice (whether I am your photographer or not) please feel free to get in touch and I am happy to help!