5 Tips for Styling Your Portrait Session

You’ve booked your session, you’ve scheduled your date, and you are ready to start planning your outfits, but where do you start? How do you begin? No one told you this could be so stressful! Coordinating, not matching? Different, but cohesive? What does that even mean?! No worries, friend– I’ve got you covered! Take a deep breath and dive into my top 5 tips for styling your portrait session.

#1 Start with one outfit

When styling clothes for a session, it can feel overwhelming and daunting. To help with this, choose an outfit for one person first. I’m a little biased, because I love making women feel as special as they are, but I always start with the wife or mama’s outfit. Keep it simple! Choose a dress or a skirt and top that flatters your body type and makes you feel good.

Erien’s top and skirt flatter her features and are in the color family we will discuss in the next tip!

#2 Choose colors that the camera loves

You can find so many color palettes in a quick search on Pinterest or Instagram that it can be difficult to decide where to begin. I highly recommend choosing softer tones and muted shades, because unlike bright, bold colors, the lighter hues draw attention to your face instead of your clothes. Great color options are shades of soft pink and muted blues or yellows mixed with light neutrals like gray, cream, white, khaki, and leather brown.

Ben and Kierstin’s perfect combination of soft hues and neutrals draw your attention to their connection and look great with the fountain background!

#3 Make a statement

Accessorizing your outfit can really bring an extra editorial look to your photos and can also help you coordinate with the rest of your family. (We will talk about that in the next tip!) Larger statement jewelry is easier to see on camera, while dainty jewelry often goes unnoticed. Necklaces, belts, bracelets, and earrings are great additions to any outfit. Just choose one or two that don’t compete for attention, and you’re good to go!

Montanna’s necklace stands out but does not distract from her beautiful face. Erien’s watch adds a more editorial detail to her photos.

#4 Coordinate using dominant and accent colors

Instead of matching all the outfits together, coordinate the colors. I do this by thinking about dominant and accent colors. The dominant color is the one that stands out most in an outfit, and the accent colors are smaller details. For example, in the picture below, each person has a dominant color, but their accent colors tie the group together. Let’s dissect it:

Debra (Mama): Debra’s dominant color is pink because her skirt takes up the most “visual real estate”. However, she has a white top and mint green earrings that coordinate with the boys’ green hues and the leaves on her daughter’s dress.

Parker (Son on the Left): Parker’s dominant color is the light mint green from his shirt. His white shoes tie in with his mama’s shirt and sister’s tights. His khaki pants pull out the gold in his sister’s flower print and coordinate with his mama’s nude heels (not pictured).

Wesley (Son on the Right): Wesley’s dominant color is the dark mint green of his pants. His shirt is white with gray pinstripes which break up the shirt so that it is slightly different from his mama’s top. 

Blakeley (Daughter): Blakeley’s dominant color is light pink. Even though her color is the same as her mama’s, the floral print and different shade sets her apart. Her flowers coordinate with her mom and brothers tying everyone together. 

#5 Mix Up the Pieces

If you have multiple children, allow them to wear different types of outfits that reflect their age and personality. Once you are thinking about the first four tips, this final tip will pull it all together for a different, but cohesive look. In the family example below, I started with the mom’s dress, headband, and shoes. Her dress is full of those soft hues the camera loves and the dominant color is light blue. Her husband’s dominant color is navy, and his outfit is sophisticated matching his stage of life. Their first son’s dominant color is white and his sweater/pants combo is appropriate for an older brother. The younger son’s dominant color is brown and the overalls suggest that he is still little. Overall, this family is dressed to impress, and their coordinated outfits will look stunning in the final images!

Following these five tips for styling your session should help relieve the stress of planning. After you’re done, all you have to do is show up to your session, laugh a lot, and let me do my job! 

Like these quick tips? Fill out the contact form below to request a portrait session with me! My full session clients receive a more extensive style guide upon booking.

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Chelsea Reed Photography, LLC

Indianapolis, Indiana

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