I know choosing outfits for your session can be fun, but can also be a whirlwind as well. As a photographer, I have taken notes through the years on what colors and styles photograph well. That being said, my goal in typing out this style guide is to make things a bit easier for you as you narrow down your options. However, please know, this is merely a guide, not a prerequisite for beautiful images. The session will be beautiful, not because you choose the perfect outfit, but because it reflects you!
Soft earth tones are very beautiful on camera. Sage greens, blush, blues, tans, heather grays, whites and creams photograph well.
Patterns are fun but try to avoid patterns that are busy or distracting. Incorporate texture through fabrics, sleeve styles, ruffles, and layers.
When coordinating families, don’t be afraid to put one person in your family in something bold (ex: mustard, royal blue, deep orange, bright pink..etc). I suggest that you avoid putting more than one family member in bold patterns. If you are planning an individual session, such as a senior session, don’t be afraid to incorporate one bold item such as a bold color skirt, shoes, or accessory.
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.
The goal for coordinating a family is to visually break up the colors and shades so that you’re not all wearing the same color on top and bottom. The more you can mix that up, the better. I encourage you to think about planning each outfit with “dominant colors” and “accent colors” in mind. A dominant color is the color that you see the most in an outfit, while an accent has a smaller piece of visual real estate. Most moms choose their outfit first, and then build the rest of the family’s outfits based around that.
If you have multiple children, don’t feel like you need to put them all in the same type of outfit. For example, one of your daughters could wear a dress and hat, while the other wears a skirt and hair bow. One of your sons could wear a vest, while the other one wears a jacket. Mixing up the wardrobe pieces will bring a great visual interest to the photos.
Dresses and skirts are flattering and look stunning on camera. Long, full-length, flowy dresses and skirts look amazing on camera because they bring extra movement to the photos. Consider softer fabrics that allow for beautiful movement in the images. When considering the length of your dresses or skirts, it’s also a good idea to factor in whether or not there will be little ones in your photos. If you have smaller children, I’ll likely have you sitting or crouching on the ground to interact up-close with them. Cute, shorter cocktail-length dresses photograph beautifully, but if you have little ones in your photos, a floor-length dress or skirt, or perhaps a cute midi-skirt, will make moving around with your kids much easier, and look perfect on camera, too. If you’re an expectant mother, I always recommend floor-length gowns or maxi dresses. These dresses create the best silhouettes to flatter your figure and really highlight your bump.
Professional hair and makeup is certainly not mandatory for beautiful images, however it does looks amazing on camera and removes the stress of getting ready on your own. This is the time to treat 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 are doing your own hair and makeup, don’t forget to do a bit more than you would on your average day. Add volume to your hair by curling it or teasing it. Wear a little extra mascara, blush, and lipstick… this will photograph beautifully!
Long, fitted dress pants or colored pants and closed-toed shoes work best on camera for guys. Stay away from graphics and logos. Layers on guys look great on camera. Adding another layer will bring extra dimension and visual interest to your photos. Blazers, vests and coats can up the level of any look.
Pairing an accessory or two with your outfit can really help bring some extra dimension to your images, and be a nice tie-in when you’re coordinating with a group. Big statement earrings bring a lot of pop to the photos, while the smaller, delicate ones are not as noticeable on camera. Hats, earrings, fun shoes and other accessories always bring in some fun visual interest.
There is no such thing as too dressed up. Your session is a great excuse to go shopping and bring a new permanent piece or two into your closet! Have fun with it and as always, let me know if you have any questions!