AAP’s Portrait Session Style Guide

There are tons of inspiration in clothing retail ads, magazines and Pinterest.com for photography attire but clients are always asking so I decided to break it down for you all.

Color.  It all starts with choosing color.  Think about your signature colors, what have you been told looks great on you.  Jewel tones look stunning especially in the fall and winter (deep blue, dark red, burgundy, emerald green).  Light pinks, chambray blue, mint green, light pastels and neutrals work for spring and summer.  While little black dresses have their place, I am not sure that they always photograph best.  Also avoid super bright colors, bright pinks, fushia, neon yellow or orange as they saturate a photo and reflect badly on skin tones.  Muted, dusty pink, mustard yellow or burnt orange are better choices if you like those colors.  Typically I suggest staying away from too many different large bold prints.  Small prints, like floral and plaids work and can bring a family wardrobe together.  Or prints look well in accessories… a bow tie, scarf, vest- something that can be removed for a different look.

Coordinate your looks.  While some families like to all match, coordinating colors work much better.  All matching outfits tend to date a photo.  Instead, use at least 2-4 colors throughout the family (depending on the size of family). Maybe mom and son in royal blue.  Mom can sport a rust statement necklace and heels.  Son can wear a splash of rust in his sneakers, suspenders or tie.  A green dress and blue shoes for daughter.  And dad can wear navy pants, and a coordinating shirt and tie with the same colors.  This way everyone stands out uniquely and coordinate.

Maternity clients.  Gowns are preferred over short dresses.  They can be smoothed around the bump better. Flowy short dress tend to flare out giving you less shape.  If you decide, you want a short dress, be sure it is a contouring shape and not flowy.  Long dresses can be flowy or contoured.  There are many options and looks we can discuss your styling prior to your session.

Newborn sessions, less is more.  I love colors but for newborns soft neutrals on parents and textures are best.  Why? because bold colors will cast colors on the baby while you are snuggling and holding him/her close for portraits.  Dressing slightly more casual works for this session since it is at home.  Whites, cream, grays, and pale pastels are best and timeless.  Bring color in for baby with headbands, wraps/blankets and nursery decor.  A solid or lightly patterned onesie for baby.

Textures.  Textured knits, lace overlay, or gauzy dresses photograph well.  For newborns textured wraps, blankets for layers look lovely. Knit hats and of your taste also are sweet.

Dress to impress.  While casual clothes can be the type of image you prefer it’s still nice to dress it up a bit… or all the way!  Men look most masculine in well fitted dress pants and closed toe shoes.  A suit jacket can really add to a look or act as a prop, thrown over your shoulder.  High heels can elongate women’s legs and give some flair (bring flats for walking to session- if you aren’t use to heels).  I find when my clients are dressed to impress they are more confident and this shows in their images.  Plus it makes it more fun and brings elegance to a shoot.  Art for your walls!

It’s all in the details.  Bring your photos alive with personal details.  Details can be a statement necklace, a pretty scarf, bow ties on little boys, Knee socks, hair bows, jewelry on girls, an heirloom pendant, a nice wrist watch, colorful pocket square, special items from the nursery for maternity sessions, your toddlers favorite boots, the list goes on…

Flatter your features and go pro.  Everyone has a flattering feature that draws people in.  Play it up!  Do you have beautiful eyes?  Women, have a professional make-up artist play up your eyes. Faux lashes are always beautiful in photographs.  Does your daughter have gorgeous flowing locks?  Pamper her with a salon appointment.  While I understand this may not be in everyone’s budget or you may think this is too much… just think how fun it can be to pamper yourself while creating lasting images you are sure to be proud of.  I think ‘going pro’ is especially nice for senior photos, and couples.  Or just the parents, then mom and dad can make it a date night after the session!

A few more tips.  Dress in layers for different looks.  Lip gloss for ladies, chap stick for the boys always looks nice. Diaper covers/bloomers for toddlers in dresses/skirts, always important! Avoid clothing with writing or prominent logos.  Remember your feet, avoid sneakers if possible. Be nice to your photographer and remember to floss (yes, for real)!

Need a little extra help?  Reach out, I love to help with outfits and can provide sources for some of my favorite looks for Family, Maternity and Newborn.

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