Portrait Session Styling Tips

Tips to consider when building your session-day wardrobe

Start With a Color Palette

Aim to coordinate with each other, but you needn't be "matchy-matchy". Ladies - I recommend starting with your outfit first! Pick something you love and feel great in (Rent the Runway is always a fun option for something new and fancy), and then choose the others' outfits in colors that coordinate with yours. As far as which colors to choose, neutrals, especially white, are great because they won't cast different tones onto your skin. (For example, a green shirt may cast that color onto your face, especially indoors.) As far as how many colors to choose, three is a magic number, and you can add in coordinating shades and patterns. An example color palette: white/khaki + denim +  light blue.

Location Matters

What you wear will also depend on where we'll be shooting. If we're photographing at a location with lots of trees, I recommend bright colors like cream and white. This will ensure that you 'pop' and don't get lost in the background (so avoid black, navy, and dark denim). On the other hand, if our location is brighter or offers lots of negative space (like the DIA, a bright modern interior, or beach), you can go with with lighter colors for a monochromatic look, or contrast with the location and wear darker shades.


Add a Pattern

Adding one or two patterns creates dynamic. Try laying everyone's outfits out to see how they work together; you will notice that a couple subtle patterns in your color palette round out the look and add interest. I recommend at least one pattern for families of 2-3, and two patterns for a family of 4. Any two patterns don't need to be alike, either - mixing patterns is good!

Consider Texture & Movement

Knits, linen and lace look great on camera and help to add interest when everyone is wearing similar colors. Varying materials will keep your look interesting, too; for example, if dad's wearing jeans, maybe mom wears a flowing skirt and the boys wear khakis instead. For women, I always recommend long skirts or dresses when possible because they are flattering and photograph beautifully; they flow when you walk, still look great when you sit, and don't bunch or pull funny on your legs like a pant might!

Feel Free to Get Fancy - Or Not!

It's always great to dress up for your shoot and I even love the way an evening gown looks in an outdoor setting! For most, though, a summer dress and collared shirt feel elevated enough, yet comfortable, to take photos from everyday to special occasion. Most importantly, wear what you feel best in.

A Note on Dressing Babies

For toddlers and babies, I suggest a onesie as their base layer to avoid the distraction of pulling down their shirt to cover their belly. I also think plain onesies are the most photogenic outfits on infants (especially white); they are timeless, flattering, and never overwhelm the baby. Their precious face cannot get lost in a onesie that fits them just right! If this seems a little too simple for your style, you can accessorize the onesie with a knit bonnet and stockings. 

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