Seven Tried & True Tips for Styling Your Portrait Session

As a Portrait Photographer, my most frequently asked question is "What do I wear to my photo shoot?"

And, I am more than happy to answer!

My goal is for you to be over-the-moon in love with your portraits, and while some outfits look absolutely killer in person, that doesn't mean they will photograph quite the same.

So, I've put together a list of Seven Tried and True Tips for Styling Your Portrait Session! Enjoy.

1. First, Let's Talk About Skin.
As a general rule of thumb, I prefer to keep everyone as covered up as possible. Especially the shoulders and knees. Not only is it less distracting, by drawing the viewer’s eye up to the faces in the picture instead of the exposed joints, it is also very flattering on all shapes and sizes! When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with long pants, long skirts and long or ¾ inch sleeves.

2. Patterns, Prints and Stripes, Oh My!
My recommendation is to keep mom (or the lady/ies in the photo) in a simple solid color dress or shirt. It is the most slimming and flattering! Dad too, if possible, although he can get away with a subtle pattern. The kids are the ones that you can really have some fun with when it comes to prints and patterns! Those little rugrats can usually pull off anything!

3. Just Say "No" to "Matchy-Matchy"
It’s tempting to try and find matching shirts for everybody in the family, but to that I say, “Nay!” First of all, it’s friggin’ stressful! We have five boys ranging in ages 8 – 16, so trying to find the same shade and style of a shirt for all of them is pretty much impossible. The good news is, “matchy-matchy” is OUT! (Anyone remember the old family photos with everyone in white shirts and blue jeans?) Instead of trying to match, try to “go” instead.  Find 2 or 3 complimenting colors and go from there. For ideas, checkout my Pinterest board here.

4. So Many Colors to Choose From!
Your color scheme is totally your decision, and is really fun to put together! The only colors that I recommend avoiding in pictures are fluorescents and neons, as they can be reflective on your skin. Your colors and overall theme is something that we will discuss in your pre-session consultation, and I am happy to offer suggestions and ideas if you’d like.

5. Be Choosy with Your Shoe-sies
(Wow, that was lame!)

But I mean it. Don’t forget to think about what shoes everyone is going to wear. White shoes are incredibly distracting in pictures, especially white tennis shoes. The same goes for any kind of bright colored shoes. I always suggest dark or neutral. Think blacks, browns, tans and grays. There are certain high-fashion or stylized shoots where this rule would not apply, but for a standard family portrait session, the last thing I want is to draw extra attention to my family’s feet.

6. K.I.S.S. Your Accessories!
Keep. It. Simple. S....illy! I suggest keeping accessories to a bare minimum, and keep them balanced. A cute belt and a statement necklace are great! The same belt and necklace with bangles, dangly earrings and a sparkly headband is too much. Style your hair like you normally would (now’s NOT the time to try something new!), but I DO highly suggest putting on a little extra makeup. It may look a bit heavy in the mirror, but it will show in pictures better than your everyday makeup. If you’re interested in getting your hair and/or makeup professionally done for our shoot, let me know, as I have a couple of ladies that I recommend to my clients!

7. If Mama Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy
And lastly, to tie all of this together, I suggest getting mom’s style all squared away first. Mom needs to find an outfit that she loves, that flatters her body and gives her confidence. Then, you can start to coordinate everyone else. Because, as the six fellas that live with me can attest to – If Mama ain’t happy, ain't nobody happy! And that is true with family portraits as well.

 

I hope you found this guide helpful. Of course, as with anything, some rules are made to be broken (except the no white shoes one – that one can never be broken), so always be true to yourself, your personal style and what ultimately makes you happy! Did you enjoy this article? Or do you have any additional tips for styling a portrait session? If so please leave a comment below!

You are precious in His sight!

~Michelle