Preparing for a Portrait Session

What to wear

Being comfortable is the name of the game. Wear clothes that allow you to sit, stand and walk comfortably.

Solid colors are an absolute must! Prints distract the eye and draw attention away from everything else in the image. Also avoid clothing with large logos for the same reason. You want to be the focus of your photos, NOT the huge FUBU logo on your shirt.

Matching colors are best. You don’t necessarily all need to have matching outfits, but tops and bottoms should all be of the same tones/colors.

Jeans are great. They are dark in color and almost everyone owns a pair that look great on them. I would stay away from the old favorites with the rips and holes, but jeans are a perfectly acceptable option. If you are looking for something a little bit more formal, try dark pants, skirts or even khakis. Just remember that lighter colors draw more focus.

Dark colors are not only flattering, they also keep the viewers eye moving toward the lightest part of the image (which should be your face). If you are doing an outdoor portrait, earth tones work really well. Browns, dark blues and and even black are all great options. Try to avoid colors that may cast a reflective color on your skin such as bright reds, yellows and oranges.

If you decide to go lighter just make sure the colors are the same or similar.

People love to dress in white for family portraits. This is fine as long as EVERYONE is in white. Otherwise the one guy who is wearing a red polo shirt will be the only thing viewers ever see.

For some reason, it happens all the time, my clients have color coordinated beautifully but have forgotten the NO PATTERNS rule. If you are all wearing a lovely shade of blue, the fact that one person has stripes, another has checkers, and another has flowers kind of defeats the purpose of trying to coordinate. The image will look busy and the viewer will be distracted. Stick to the solids.

Try laying all of the clothes out together and see if anything doesn’t go with the overall scheme. Think of it as one big outfit. If there is a piece that stands out you might want to swap it for something else.

Wear simple jewelry. Avoid wearing too much or too large jewelry.


Wear your hair in your normal style.

Do not change your hairstyle in the days before your portrait session.

If you want to get a haircut, schedule it one week before your portrait session.

A fresh shave is important for men. Neatly trim beard or mustache.


If you are going to wear foundation make sure it matches your skin – all of it. You want to make sure your face and neck are the same color.

Keep makeup simple and elegant and take it easy on the bronzer.

Avoid wearing dark eyeliner; it makes your eyes appear small.

How to prepare with children

Consider nap times when booking your portrait session. Little guys usually have a window when they are in a good mood after a nap. If your little ones have a regular nap schedule, try to schedule your session when you know your child is typically in a happy, cooperative mood. Get them excited! A strange photographer with a big camera and gear can be a little bit intimidating. I will do my best to make your child feel comfortable but it helps if you prep them before the session. Tell them something fun and exciting is going to happen. Show them other pictures you have of them or the family and tell them that is what they get to do. Give them an incentive – a favorite story or snack when they are finished.

Bring snacks, toys and things that make your child happy. If we need to take a break for carrots and goldfish, no problem. Anything to keep the youngest members of the family happy.

Feel free to bring an extra outfit for the little guys. If they have a favorite outfit or something adorable that doesn’t go with what the rest of the family is wearing, bring it along. If we have time at the end of the family session we can do a quick change and a photo of just the kids.

Be happy and excited! This day is about you and your family. Don’t stress. Relax and have fun! A little bit of goofiness and giggling can make for a great image. Children can sense stress and anxiety. If you relax and roll with the punches it will be much easier for them to enjoy the day.

Get everything ready the day before. This will ensure that portrait day will go smoothly. Pack the snacks and a change of clothes if you will be bringing one, lay out the outfits and get excited!


What to bring

You don’t have to bring anything, but if you’d like to bring small props that would be OK.

If your session takes place during the colder months you may want to bring a blanket if your shoot contains a baby or child.