One of the questions I get asked most often is what clients should wear to a photo session.  As this is one of my favorite parts of planning for my own family portraits, I thought I'd write up some quick thoughts and pointers!

{Click here for a collection of "inspiration board" posts, with outfit ideas for many different kinds of sessions!}

1.  Coordinate colors -- but don't go too matchy-matchy.  You want to go for a cohesive grouping without being a large blob of a single color.  (And as a corollary -- I strongly advise against wearing all white tops.  White is not the most flattering color to photograph, and all white can be a boring and dated look.)

I find it easiest to achieve a coordinated look if I start with one patterned/print piece and then pull coordinating colors from it.  For our own family photos a few years back, I started with a cute green, blue, and white striped polo shirt for Joshua, and then chose a solid green top for myself and a solid blue for my husband.


(Photo by the fabulous Deborah Cull Photography.  Taken back in 2010, when our little guy *really* was a little guy!)

Another great example was the R family's portrait session in the summer of 2015.  Cherilyn chose a great patterned dress that brought a lot of interesting texture to the photos without being overpowering.  Which leads to a great corollary point -- do feel free to bring prints into the mix, but go for smaller and less distracting patterns.  The print of Cherilyn's dress is small enough not to pull focus from their happy faces.  :) 


2.  Think about what should be highlighted in your photos.  This is more of a factor for engagement and maternity portraits, but it's worth thinking about any time you're planning to have portraits taken.  Is there a particular reason for this session -- a milestone, a special moment, something especially meaningful that should be captured in the photos?  If so, how can that best be relayed in the photos?

During engagement sessions, I always tell my couples that the ring is the third subject in the photos.  So prior to the session, you'll want to make sure that it's cleaned and as sparkly as possible, and that your hands and fingernails are ready for their closeup -- an engagement session is definitely a good excuse for a nice, pampering manicure.  :)


For maternity sessions, you want to wear clothes that emphasize that beautiful baby bump!  Wear a top or dress with an empire waist, so that it gathers at the top of the bump with a strong delineation from the bust.  Soft, slightly clingy fabrics are the best here.


3.  Think about how these photos will be displayed.  If, for instance, your goal is to get a set of large prints to display proudly in your living room, think about what would look best in that space.  Is the room more formal? What colors have you used to decorate the space?  What kind of tone should be set by the photos?

Shortly after our third baby, Alexa, was born, I managed to pull myself together enough to take a few sibling newborn photos, with the goal of printing one on a canvas for our living room.  The room is decorated in neutrals and wood tones, so I used a softly muted natural color palette for the photo.  And the resulting image is my current favorite large wall canvas!

As always, feel free to contact me if you'd like to discuss outfit options for a photo shoot!  I'm always happy to provide input on this and any other session-related questions!