The first question everyone always asks me after booking a portrait session is, “What should I wear?” So I wanted to pull all my common advice together in one easy place for my clients- though it’s also something we’ll talk about in your consult.
The first thing to consider if your family’s personal style. Your photos should feel like “you”. Especially when you’re putting photos on your wall you want to consider how they’ll work with your decor- both in terms of matching your general style (casual vs formal, classic vs boho etc) and matching specific colors in the rooms you’d like your photos in.
With that said I *do* encourage people to dress up for your photos. I want you to feel special! When you have on a dressier outfit than you usually wear it shows through in how you carry yourself and gives you confidence, which reflects in your photos. This is one of the reasons I have a client closet for you to borrow from, but I’m always happy to help you pick something if you’re looking to buy outfits also. My client closet generally consists of skirts and dresses since they are more expensive to buy and less likely to be worn again.
When you’re choosing outfits for multiple people, you want to pick things that compliment each other. That does NOT mean you all have to wear the same color, and in fact, you shouldn’t. What you want to do is try to find colors that all mesh well- earth tones for example, or pastels. You can also have one person wear a “central” piece with a pattern with multiple colors, then dress everyone else in colors that are in that pattern. Or, try a neutral palette with an accent color.
For outdoor sessions, it is helpful if at least one person wears something that has some movement- a dress, sweater, or even wrap in a blanket.
Wrapping in a blanket serves a dual purpose of being great for snuggling too!
Your clothes should fit well, but not be skin-tight. Especially for kids, make sure that nothing is pinching or rough or uncomfortable or will cause them to pull at their clothes or be fussy. Wear shoes that you know you will be able to stand in, and ones that you can walk in if you will be moving around locations) or bring a pair to change in to when you walk), or depending on the weather and your style, go barefoot! If you feel comfortable, you’ll look more comfortable and confident in your photos. This is also a time to consider how you feel in your outfit, and what you want to show off. While I encourage you to realize that your body is beautiful because it’s YOU, if you wear a fitted outfit or a sleeveless dress, will you feel self conscious, or feel like you need to cover parts up? Then maybe it’s better to wear a flowy dress or top, or something with sleeves so when you look back at your photos you can see only the beauty and not critique yourself.. Are you afraid wearing a flowy dress won’t show off your bump or will make you feel like the fabric is overwhelming you? There are many flattering but fitted maternity dresses perfect for this!
Patterns & Logos
Patterns are not always bad. but you don’t want very loud patterns that will take over the photo, or distract from your face. If there is more than one person in the photo, only one should be wearing a pattern, otherwise they can clash, or be a distraction. Always avoid clothes with logos, brand names, or graphics on them- not only are they distracting, but they can also make your photo look dated. Look for solid color tees, polos, or dressier shirts if you’re matching to other colors or patterns.
Sleeve & Pant Length
Long sleeves are the most flattering for portraits, though short sleeves can be the best option for warmer months. Try to avoid tank tops or sleeveless shirts unless that’s truly what you feel most comfortable in. Pants are always preferable unless it is specifically a more casual shoot when shorts would be appropriate.
Accessories are great- not just because they can liven up a photo, but you can also add and remove them to show different looks. Belts, sweaters, headbands, hair clips, scarves, hats, jewelry and shoes are all great accessories to consider. For babies or children you can also include things like a special blanket, or even a lovey. I do have maternity dresses and flower crowns available for use, so ask me about those if you are interested.
Don’t forget about babywearing- the ultimate accessory! If you have a special carrier this is a great way to memorialize it.
Hair & make-up
The most important note for hair is not to make any major changes within a few days of your portrait session. You wouldn’t want a bad hair cut or unexpected color to be hanging on your wall! Otherwise, keep hairstyles suited to your personal style. Like with dressing up, makeup can help you feel more special and confident! If you don’t feel comfortable doing your own, ask me about the makeup artists I work with.
For newborn sessions, it’s even more important to make sure that clothing isn’t a distraction. If we have discussed what rooms we will photograph in you can coordinate with those colors, or a better option is to opt for neutrals. You want your family and newborn to be the main focus, and not have colors and patterns distract from that at all. I do generally recommend staying away from pure white just because it can be difficult to balance if there are darker colors or furniture too, but creams or tans or other light neutrals work well.
For maternity sessions especially, but also newborn or motherhood, it’s also a chance to go relaxed. This could be a favorite pair of leggings and top, a robe, or an oversized sweater or shirt. Also works well if you want a bare bump shot!
Silhouettes can be a special scenario. I do have options for locations where these are possible, so if it’s something you are interested in make sure you mention it to me so we can choose a suitable location. For stunning silhouettes it is very important that clothes fit well and are not baggy. Skirts can be a great option, because they show movement and add interest. You may also want to consider your hairstyle- having your hair down will look different than a ponytail or bun, so that’s something to consider in how you would like your photo to look.
Make sure if you want to include breastfeeding photos that you choose an outfit with accessibility, or at least bring one to change into. The majority of the dresses in my client closet are nursing-friendly for this reason.
Putting everything together
It can be very helpful to take all your final outfit choices and lay them out together to see how everything looks as a group. You don’t want any one piece of an outfit- or outfits if there is more than one person- to grab attention. Always feel free to contact me- you can even send photos and I can help you make choices.
Where to Look
If you don’t have outfits already in your closets that fit what you’re looking for, I have a Client Closet that you are welcome to borrow from, as well as some suggestions on where to shop if you’re looking to purchase some items!