All About Portrait Sessions
STYLE TIPS FOR HER
Wondering how many outfits you should plan? I’ve got you covered!
Changing outfits during a session always takes more time than my clients expect, so in order to maximize shooting time and give you the highest number of photos possible, I recommend the number of outfits (as follows) to keep stress low and the number of photos in your final gallery high:
Family Sessions - 1 Outfit
Maternity/Anniversary/Couples - 1 or 2 Outfits
Senior Sessions/Headshots - 2 or 3 Outfits
Styling Your Session
If you want your portrait session images to look and feel a little more editorial, I recommend bringing a few small, simple props with you, like fresh flowers to hold or a blanket to sit on. If you want to set up a picnic or incorporate another special element into your session, just let me know! Maybe you have access to some larger props that have a real “wow” factor, like a boat, classic car, vintage bicycle, or hot air balloon. This is the time to dream a little bit and decide what really feels like you! Props aren’t a must by any means. Some of my clients love them and go all out. Some pick one or two items to bring. Others stick with just their outfits –– and that’s great, too! The most important things you need to bring to your session are love and laughter. I'll take care of the rest.
Dress It Up
Have you been eyeing a gorgeous dress, but just never had an occasion for it? This is your chance to do get it! Remember: there’s no such thing as “too dressed up” when it comes to your portrait session, so don’t be afraid to have some fun! If you don’t want to spend a ton of money adding a new permanent piece to your wardrobe, a lot of my clients love Rent the Runway for their portrait photos because you don’t have to spend a lot to feel like a million bucks. Plus, you can send the outfits back when the session is over! Some of my clients love having an excuse to go shopping and purchase a new permanent piece (or two!) for their wardrobe –– and that’s okay, too! Whatever works for you!
Say Yes to the Dress
There's nothing more romantic than a long, flowy dress. Dresses and skirts tend to look most stunning on camera because they really flatter the female body — which is probably why the red carpet is always full of so many dresses and not very many pantsuits! I recommend choosing long, flowy dresses or skirts because they’re flattering on all body types, look amazing on camera, and bring extra movement and dimension to your photos. Maxi (or floor length) skirts and dresses will give us the best “twirl factor,” add more romance to your walking photos plus look especially gorgeous when juxtaposed with nature, like the desert, forest, fields, or beach. Cute, shorter cocktail-length dresses or midi skirts photograph beautifully as well. My clients who choose to bring two dresses will sometimes choose one of each! I recommend avoiding pants and shorts for your session, and saying yes to a dress (or skirt!) or two! You won't regret it!
Flattering Your Features
In my experience, every woman (regardless of her size or shape) has an area of her body that she’s self-conscious about (including me). Recognizing the areas you’re self-conscious about when selecting your outfits is key. Choosing flattering silhouettes and colors that complement your natural features is the best way to ensure you’ll love the way you look in your photos. Three-quarter length sleeves create an awesome slimming effect on all arms, so be on the lookout for an option with a longer length sleeve. If your dress has shorter sleeves (or no sleeves) consider bringing a cute jacket, blazer, cardigan, or pashmina to incorporate into your look. Skinny straps or strapless dresses have the opposite effect on arms on camera. For most women, skinny straps actually make arms look BIGGER. So I recommend avoiding those whenever possible if your goal is slimmer-looking arms. If it’s colder outside, I suggest bringing a warm coat (the longer, the better!) to wear when we’re not shooting so you don’t freeze in your dress.
For shoes, keep in mind that heels elongate women’s legs and force constant tension in the calves –– which makes them look more toned. Closed-toed heels, in particular, look great on camera because they carry out the line of your leg all the way down to your toe. You can never go wrong with a pair of neutral pumps! If your toes are showing in a peep-toe heel, you might want to schedule a pedicure before your session so you don’t regret letting your toes show. If your shoes don’t show at all in the dress you’ve selected, you could always choose neutral ballet flats to make your session more comfortable. Lastly, make sure to bring a pair of flats/flip-flops to wear when moving from place to place. Your feet will thank you later!
Make a Statement
Pairing an accessory or two with your outfit can really help bring some extra dimension to your images. Whether it’s a necklace, belt, bracelet, earrings, hat, or scarf, bringing an accessory or two can bring great visual interest to your photos, so choose one or two that don’t compete for attention when paired together. For example, if you go with bolder earnings, you might want to choose a more humble necklace, or maybe even no necklace at all. Fresh florals in a crown or bouquet can be a really romantic touch as well!
Go Pro: Hair & Makeup
Professional hair and makeup are on the top of most of my clients’ portrait session checklists because it looks amazing on camera and removes the stress of getting ready on your own. You’ll have these photos forever, so this is the time to pamper yourself! Whether it’s lash extensions or blown-out hair, professional hair and makeup will give you an extra boost of confidence in front of the camera, and it always photographs like a dream. If you’re working with a makeup artist, have her apply your makeup in natural light (if possible) so that it looks fresh and not too heavy. Plus, that’s the type of light we’ll be shooting in, so it’ll give you the best expectation of how it will translate on camera. Most of my clients feel like their makeup is “too much” at first, since it’s more than they would wear on a normal day, so if you feel that way at the beginning, don’t worry! Good makeup artists know how to get it just right for the camera — and my clients always love the final result. If you need a recommendation for hair and makeup, I work with the best in the business and have some great people to share with you! They’re sweet as pie, talented as heck, unbelievable professionals, and wonderful people. You’ll LOVE them! Just let me know and I’ll send you their information. I know they’ll take good care of you!
Skip the Spray Tan
Although it might seem counter-intuitive, I recommend that you do not get a spray tan before your session (even a few days prior) because it tends to photograph orange even when it’s applied subtly and by a professional. Your actual skin tone will photograph most beautifully.
When choosing colors for your outfits, I recommend selecting lighter, neutral tones and more muted shades. Bright, bold, or neon colors are distracting and take the focus away from where it should be: YOU! You can never go wrong with light neutral colors like cream, taupe, camel, or light gray. The camera loves shades of soft pinks and muted blues, mixed with sophisticated light-colored neutrals. The softer, more pastel-leaning color palette fits beautifully into almost all natural outdoor environments –– and especially complements the many colors of the midwest!
I know in the midwest, fall leaves and winter wonderlands just scream at us to wear darker and bolder colors. If that's what you're feeling, go for it! I still suggest avoiding a bunch of patterns and going for a more coordinated color palette, such as jewel tones. Keep in mind if you're wanting lighter feeling images, the darker clothing colors will not give that effect quite as well.
How to Mix All the Colors
The goal for coordinating a family’s outfits is to visually break up the colors and shades so that you’re not all wearing the same color on top and bottom (like everyone in blue jeans with white shirts). The more you can mix it up, the better! I encourage you to think about planning each outfit with “dominant colors” and “accent colors” in mind. A dominant color is a color that you see the most in an outfit, while an accent has a smaller piece of visual real estate. When you’re planning each family member’s outfit, if you can aim for each person to have a different dominant color, and then tie in and vary the accent colors, it’ll look great all together.
For example, if you’re wearing a blush dress, soft blue earrings, and nude heels (blush being your dominant color), then your spouse could wear a navy coat with a white button-down and gray pants, paired with brown leather shoes and maybe even a blush pocket square (making navy his dominant color). Your daughter could wear a soft blue top with a white tulle skirt (making a soft blue her dominant color) while your son could wear light beige pants with navy suspenders and a white button-down (making white his dominant color). Now each person has their own dominant color while still incorporating a few touches of the other colors that will pull all the looks together. This will visually break up all the colors and highlight each person and their individual personality. Most of my moms choose their dress first and then build the rest of the family’s outfits based on that.
Cold Weather Tips
Add a peacoat, tights, scarves, and heeled booties to a form-fitting cocktail dress.
Statement coat with a beanie, scarf, and gloves or a warm, oversized, snuggly sweater with tall boots and a hat. The great thing about snow is it creates a beautiful white backdrop, so even though it might seem counterintuitive, soft pastel, muted colors like soft pinks and powder blues still look great! And, remember, regardless of the setting, you can never go wrong with neutrals!
Coordinating the Looks
As you’re coordinating your outfit with your family, keep in mind that your outfits will look the most cohesive on camera when the color palette and wardrobe pieces coordinate, but don’t actually “match.” In fact, I recommend that you avoid thinking about “matching,” and instead think about what “fits” together. This will create more visual interest, and allow each personality to shine through.
Mixing Up the Pieces
If you have multiple children, don’t feel like you need to put them all in the same type of outfit. For example, if one of your daughters wears a dress and flats, the other can wear a skirt and boots, if that’s more of her style. If one of your sons wears a bowtie, the other can wear suspenders. Mixing up the wardrobe pieces will bring even more visual interest to the photos.