What To Wear For A Portrait Session

I have been asked so often what to wear to a portrait session that I have decided to write a few tips.  I hope these suggestions are helpful and make you look your best in your portraits. 


Clothes That Coordinate And Complement Each Other Not Matching Outfits

Matching is outdated such as everyone wearing white shirts with blue pants or blue shirts with khaki pants.  I know that I am guilty of doing that for my family portraits and it just seems that it makes the image very boring.  Also, I feel that it takes away everyone’s personalities.  Unfortunately, I know that it is not a “WOW” family portrait so I suggest that you shall not wear plain white for any portraits unless it is used as an accent or accessorize it with a colorful scarf, blazer or vest. 

You may select 1-3 colors that coordinate around a common color scheme, for example, dark green, burgundy, and navy all dark color tones or gray, lavender and rose are all softer color tones. By selecting a common color scheme the portraits will pop and look beautiful.  Another thing that you may do is pull colors from one patterned outfit to create a look for all of the others in the group.  By doing this you will also be creating an amazing image.



It is alright to wear patterns as long as one person is wearing a pattern piece and the rest of the people are in solid colors.  If everyone decides to wear patterns than the photo will not be so good since your eyes will not be able to focus on the image and it will be very distracting.



They add detail and depth to the image and makes the image beautiful.  You may achieve this effect by using clothing materials like tweed, lace, ribbons, ruffles, crochet, and embroidery. 


Layers and Accessories

Cardigan, sweater, vest, jacket, blazer, coat, scarf, hat, tie, belt, headband, and jewelry adds fun to the overall image and makes it visually interesting.  The thing that I most love about layers and accessories is that you may put on or take off and give it an entirely new look to an image without many wardrobe changes.  Please keep jewelry very simple because too much draws attention from your face.  Also when you wear hats don’t have them to low that it hides the eyes.



Men, please make sure that your shoes are neat, clean, polished and go with the outfit.  Ladies, if you are wearing heels then bring along snickers or comfortable sandals to walk around from one area to another such as in the woods, on rocks or unpaved sidewalks.  To make the photo even more interesting then try to coordinate shoes with other clothing or accessories options that people are wearing in the photo.  For instance, you may match your daughter’s green shoes with your sweater, scarf or hat that you are wearing or vice versa. 


Extra Things To Be Aware Off


If you wear glasses then you are kindly asked to remove them for a few photos since they have reflections which are difficult to remove in Photoshop and Lightroom.  Please remove your glasses about 15-20 minutes before your session so the marks on the bridge of your nose will have time to disappear.  I have many portraits of my husband and son in which both of them are wearing glasses and they are not as great due to glares in the lenses.  Sometimes they take the lenses out of the glasses if they absolutely want to take photos while they are wearing glasses.  Also, the other option is to go to the optometrist that will loan out or charge a minimal fee for frames without lenses to use for a photo session.  I realize that if you are not wearing your glasses then you feel like it's not you in those photos.  I promise to take photos with and without you wearing glasses and hopefully not too much reflection/glare will be caught.   


Hair Accessories

Hair accessories such as bobby pins, hair clips, headbands or any other favorite accessories that you want to bring with you just in case you have a session outside.  If it gets very windy then you will need to put your hair up and make it look nice. 


Facial Hair

Men have a fresh shave.  Trim your sideburns, mustache or goatee and make sure there are no stray hairs.  Ladies, if you have light facial hairs on your lip or chin then wax or thread that hair before your session otherwise they will be noticeable in your images.  Also if you keep your eyebrows clean than make sure they are plucked and cleaned up for the photos too.



Please make sure that your nails look tidy and clean, including the cuticles.  It is actually a wonderful opportunity to pamper yourself and get a manicure.  Please pick a neutral nail polish color that will not clash with your outfits.



Please don't put too much makeup to try to hide blemishes because it will look overdone in the images.  Also, make sure that the makeup matches your skin tone or otherwise your face may look different color from the rest of your body.



Dry skin can detract from a great image to start using a moisturizer nightly about 1-2 weeks in advance of your session. Moisturize your face, neck, hands, arms, shoulders, legs and feet.



You will probably be biting or licking your lips during the session so please bring extra lip balm, lip gloss or lipstick to freshen up and to do touch-ups.  



Everyone, please get a good night sleep so you will be well rested the next day with no black circles or bags under your eyes.


Things To Avoid For The Portrait Session


Characters, Logos, Graphics & Writing

Please avoid them since they will be too distracting and will not look like a professional portrait.  People looking at the image will notice the logo/character/graphics or writing before seeing the gorgeous faces or smiles in the image.  


Neon Or Saturated Colors

Please avoid wearing these colors during your portrait session because it takes the attention away from the face and makes the clothing the center of attention.  The eyes quickly move towards the clothing instead of looking at the faces in the image.  Also, these colors are the most difficult to get right in photos.


New Hairstyle

Ladies, please no new hairstyle one week before your portrait session.  The best time frame is about 2 weeks beforehand to get a haircut.  It takes time to outgrow and become comfortable with your new hairstyle.  For men, a fresh cut a couple of days before the session is okay.


Wrinkled Outfits

Please avoid wearing wrinkled outfits for your portrait.  It is best to wear ironed clothes right before going to the portrait session or you may change when you get to the location.