How to Prepare for Your Portrait Session | How to Choose an Outfit

I’m so excited for today’s blog post for my ‘How to Prepare for Your Portrait Session’ blog series! I partnered with one of my favorite Philly fashion bloggers Allison from The Savvy Camel! And, she’s sharing her favorite portrait outfit tips.

Choosing outfits for a portrait session can be so time consuming. And doesn’t it always seem that when you start shopping for a very specific goal, you can’t find a thing at the mall! Five hours later you’re just hangry, walking out with one random top from H&M. LOL! Let’s face it finding 2-3 outfits that will show off your best features and help you look your great behind the camera, can be a stressful task.

couple sitting on the steps of the merchant exchange building for anniversary sessions

There are so many layers to creating a beautiful photo, and having a styled outfit is just another piece to planning for incredible portrait photos.  If you never thought about hiring a stylist for your portrait session, that’s about to change!

That’s why I’m thrilled to share my friend Allison with you all today. She’s my go to for fashionable and stylish wardrobe ideas.

Check out her interview, tips and photos from a couple’s session, we shot with her hubby this past weekend, below!

couples anniversary session photos at philadelphia's merchant exchange buildingcouples anniversary session photo

  • What is a personal stylist and what do you do?

A personal stylist is someone who styles you from head to toe in a way that reflects you and your personal style. Personal stylists tend to start out by asking questions about what you do for a living, what your interests and hobbies are, and what your personality is generally like. If you’re a lawyer who enjoys listening to podcasts, I wouldn’t dress you in distressed jeans and an oversized sweater. Instead, I would dress you in skinny jeans, a pair of colorful pumps, and a blazer! It’s also helpful to know where you currently like to shop, how you like your clothes to fit, or if there are any trends, styles, or colors that you don’t like.

couple sharing intimate moment in anniversary session photographs

  • What services do you provide?

In general, I do the majority of styling virtually to make things more convenient and because it offers a wider range of options. We’ll start with a consultation where I’ll send you a series of questions that will help me get to know a little about you, your personality, what you do, the styles you do and don’t like, and what it is that you’re looking for (a wardrobe makeover, new pieces for a new season, complete outfits for a new job, etc.). I’ll gather information about your sizes and budget and from there, put together a list of style recommendations tailored just for you! Since my services are virtual, I charge by the amount of recommendations that you would like to receive rather than by time.

couples snuggle in olde city engagement photos

  • What fashion trends are popular for fall? How can you work them into classic family photos?

This fall you’ll be seeing a lot of ruffles and bell sleeves on tops. Those trends were really popular in the spring and summer, so you’ll just be seeing them on sweaters instead of tank tops now. You’ll also continue to see step-hem and wide leg denim. Fedoras and colorful tassel earrings are looking to be some of the most popular accessories for the season.

When you’re thinking about how to work trends into your family photos, it’s always important to think about your day to day style, how these trends will reflect your personality, and how they will fit in with your home décor. You’re going to have these photos for years to come so you want to accurately reflect your style by mixing some trends in while still keeping a timeless feel.

For instance, if your personal style is more chic and sleek, a crisp bell sleeve may be a nice way to keep your portraits a bit trendier. If you’re more whimsical and romantic, ruffles are a great trend that can be done very classically. In general, it’s best to keep your color palette soft or neutral, especially when working trendy pieces into your family photos!

  • Can you give us 5 tips on how to put together a fashionable outfit for a portrait session?

  1. Avoid busy patterns. The last thing that you want is for your outfit(s) to distract you from the photo itself. You want to see happiness and love in your photos and if someone is wearing a paisley print shirt with plaid pants, you’ll be fixated on that rather than the people and emotion.
  2. Stick to a maximum of 3 colors for individual portraits and couple portraits and a maximum of 4 for family portraits. The reason for this is the same reason that you want to avoid busy patterns. If you have too many colors in a photo, your eyes won’t know what to focus on. So again, you’ll be looking at the multitude of colors rather than the faces of happiness.
  3. Keep your colors neutral, soft, or earthy. Avoid bright colors (especially neon). Again, think about what generally reflects your style. Are you more bohemian with a lot of burgundies and mustards in your closet and warm woods in your home? Pull those earthy tones into the outfits you wear in your portraits! A photo of you in a burgundy sweater and dark wash jeans will look more natural hanging above your mantel than you in a bubblegum pink sundress!
  4. Color block! This adds dimension to individual and couple portraits and keeps family portraits from looking too “matchy-matchy.” For an individual, color blocking means that you want to have 3 different tones. As an example, I wore black jeans, a white top, and a grey jacket. This gave me dark, light, and medium tones that kept me from getting lost in a sea of one color yet still allowed me to look put together. For couples and families, color blocking means choosing 3-4 colors and mixing up the combinations of those colors. In other words, I chose white, grey, blue, and taupe for our couple’s portraits. Since my husband wore grey jeans, I chose to wear a grey sweater to avoid having too much grey on the bottom half of the photos. In exchange, I wore white jeans and he wore a blue shirt. This added dimension to the photos without adding clutter. If you have children, stick with the same color scheme and be sure to keep from having too much of one color in one area of the photos. In this case, blue pants would be nice for a boy since there is no blue in the bottom of the photos and a white top would be nice for a girl to balance the white jeans.
  5. I’ve hinted at it before, but be yourself! If you have a preppy style, your portraits will turn out great if you’re wearing a baby blue seersucker dress. But if you wear a floral print kimono… not so much. If your outfit reflects your true style, you’ll be more comfortable, and that alone will make for better portraits! Not to mention, they’ll fit seamlessly into your home.

grey and white portrait outfit inspiration photo

If you want to shop these looks, we’ve got the link for you!

Family Outfits Board: 1., 2., similar here and here, 3., 4., 5., similar here, 6., 7., 8., 9., 10., 11., 12.

Individual Style Board: 1., 2., 3., 4., 5., 6.

  • Do you have any sales or promotions going on right now?

I am offering a consultation and 10 style recommendations for free to those referred by Ann Blake Photography!

couples look lovingly at each other in downtown philadelphia couples portraits

Next week, I’ll be wrapping up this series with a post on how to get everyone on board for your session.  So, you’ll be getting all my tips for getting the guys ready for pictures and how to get your little ones ready for a cooperative and fun session!

You can catch up on past posts here:

Week One: Choosing a Location

Week Two: Finding Makeup and Hairstylists



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meet ann


Hello & welcome to the ABP blog! I’m a Philadelphia based portrait photographer creating beautiful, light-filled images for families looking to create lasting memories and women creatives excited to grow their busineses with branded photos. On the blog,  I’ll share my most recent sessions, travels,  photo tips and more. So grab an iced coffee and . hang out a while!

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