Portrait Session Style Tips

This is definitely a long overdue post! We are having our family photos taken next weekend, and I’ve been totally overwhelmed by choosing outfits. I had no idea how difficult it could be. So, after reading other photographer’s tips, looking through some of my favorite photos (and not-so-favorite) I compiled my favorite style tips for your portrait session. Enjoy!


General Considerations:

  • DEFINITELY be yourself! Try not to stress over the PERFECT outfit. Being comfortable is more important than coordinating perfectly. An uncomfortable child, especially, is not going to be a happy child.
  • It might help to work around one statement piece. If your child has a patterned shirt you really love, use that as the statement piece and choose the rest of your outfits to coordinate with that piece.
  • DO start by coordinating the children or female members of the family. These outfits are generally more colorful and will make styling the rest of the family easier.
  • DO choose timeless, not overly trendy clothing.
  • DO coordinate color “pops”, not entire outfits. For example, don’t all wear white shirts with blue jeans.
  • DO keep soft colors with soft colors, and bright colors with bright colors. For example, if your toddler has a bright yellow shirt, avoid dressing yourself with pastel yellow shoes. They may both be yellow, but they will clash in the photos instead of compliment.
  • DO use accessories to add pops of color here and there. Accessories are so much fun! Take care not to go overboard. Too much of a good thing is just that – too much.
  • DO wear shoes that you are comfortable in. If you do not usually wear 5” heels, you probably don’t want to choose them for your session! Avoid flip-flops and tennis shoes. Shoes are a great accessory to use for an accent color when coordinating your outfits.
  • DO dress with patterns! Patterns are OK! Use them well – don’t dress everyone in totally different, clashing, patterned outfits. Use them sparingly to your advantage.
  • DO keep your session location in mind. If you are heading to a forest for your session, don’t dress everyone in shades of green. If you are dressed in some great vintage clothing, you probably won’t want to shoot at a modern park.
  • DO schedule hair cuts in advance. Don’t go the day of or the day before. This gives your hair time to settle and you’ll avoid the “freshly chopped” look.
  • DO use primary colors when picking your clothing! Bold accents of primary colors look great in photos, and they are easier to match than that exact shade of fuchsia.
  • DO dress with layers and textures too add interest. This will also prepare you for temperature changes.
  • DO take the time to make sure your clothing fits well! For children especially, it is tempting to purchase the outfit in a size up to give them growing room. Growing room does not look good in photos. Those jeans you’ve had for years (faded, fuzzy, worn – you know the ones I’m talking about) will not look good in your photos.
  • DO dress for the weather. A tank top will look out of place on a drizzly fall day, as would a fall sweater on a warm summer afternoon!
  • Women – DO show off your favorite part of yourself. If you love your arms, don’t hide them in a cozy oversize sweater, choose something more form-fitting. If you’re self-conscious about your legs, a knee-length dress will make you uncomfortable in front of the camera. even if it is cute, and yes, even if it is on sale!
  • AVOID logos, characters, graphics, etc. Not only will these date the photos, you don’t want Mickey to be the first thing everyone looks at in your photos. Avoid clothing with tears and rips – even if this is part of the style. Chances are it will not have the look you’re going for in your photos.
  • Children’s clothing is often fun when it has “movement”. If your session location allows it, twirling, dancing, running, and playing can make great photos, and it’s even better when the clothing allows it.


My Boy

All of the photographs I’ve taken in the last 6 months have revolved around my sweet baby boy (surprise, surprise!). Someday I may write a blog post about those early days… before I forget all of the details. The last months have been an absolute whirlwind, and I already feel some memories fading. Yesterday was my first mother’s day, and it still doesn’t feel like I deserve to be a mom. This boy is such a blessing and even the hard days, although they (on occasion) ended with both of us in tears, are precious to me.

A few favorites right now:

  • Watching my husband be a daddy
  • The way Isaac’s eyes sparkle and squeeze shut when he’s laughing
  • The 9 hours of sleep Isaac slept last night! Gave mommy 8 hours in a row-I feel amazing
  • Watching Isaac problem solve