My Fool-Proof Guide to Prepping for Your Portraits

As your photographer, know that I am so excited for your portrait session! Whether I’m capturing your sweet family or celebrating a special moment in your life, I’m here to help you create memories you’ll cherish for a lifetime. I’ve created this guide to help you feel more ready and prepared for your session. Your only job is to be yourself, laugh a lot, and let me create photos you’ll love forever. I can’t wait to get you in front of my camera!


When choosing colors for your outfits, I recommend selecting softer, lighter tones and more muted shades. Avoiding ultra-bright and bold colors, helps bring all the attention to you. Your face, your emotions, your body language. As much as we love that cute outfit you’re wearing, we want you to be the focus. The camera loves shades of soft pink and muted blues, mixed with sophisticated light neutrals like heather gray, creams, leather brown, and white.


I recommend avoiding pants and shorts for your session, and saying yes to a dress instead! You can’t go wrong with flowy dresses and skirts. They flatter every female body, especially on camera. Long, full-length, flowy dresses and skirts bring extra movement to the photos. ​

If you have smaller children, I’ll likely have you sitting or crouching down on the ground to interact up-close with them. Cute, shorter cocktail-length dresses photograph beautifully, but if you have little ones in your photos, a floor-length dress or skirt, or perhaps a cute midi-skirt, will make moving around with your kids much easier, and look perfect on camera, too.


We always recommend floor-length gowns or maxi dresses. These dresses create the best silhouettes to flatter your figure and really highlight your bump.


Long, fitted pants and closed-toed shoes are the most sophisticated and masculine looks for men. These items draw attention away from your legs and feet and place it where you want it: on that handsome face. So, for your session, it’s best to leave the shorts, sandals, and jeans at home! As well as any pants that are loose or baggy. Fitted dress pants or fitted colored pants work best on camera. Solid shades of gray or navy are a strong complement to most women’s outfits, whereas pinstripes or plaid patterns tend to distract the eye. I also recommend staying away from graphics and logos.


Here’s how to coordinate the crew. As you’re coordinating your outfit with your family, keep in mind that your outfits will look the most cohesive on camera when the color palette and wardrobe pieces coordinate, but don’t actually “match.” In fact, I recommend that you avoid thinking about “matching,” and instead think about what “fits” together. This will create more visual interest, and allow each personality to shine through.

The goal for coordinating a family is to visually break up the colors and shades so that you’re not all wearing the same color on top and bottom. The more we can mix that up, the better. I encourage you to think about planning each outfit with “dominant colors” and “accent colors” in mind. A dominant color is a color that you see the most in an outfit, while an accent has a smaller piece of visual real estate. When you’re planning each family member’s outfit, aim for each person to have a different dominant color, and then tie in and vary the accent colors. It’s going to look great together.

For example, if you’re wearing a blush dress, soft blue earrings, and nude heels (blush being your dominant color), then he could wear a navy coat with a white button-down and gray pants, paired with brown leather shoes (making navy his dominant color). Your daughter could wear a soft blue top with a white tulle skirt (making a soft blue her dominant color) while your son wears light beige pants and a white button-down (making white his dominant color). Now each person has their own dominant color while still incorporating a few touches of the others that will pull all the looks together. This will break up the color visually and highlight each personality. Most of our moms choose their dress first and then build the rest of the family’s outfits based on that.

Remember, I recommend selecting those softer, lighter tones and avoiding any ultra-bright, bold colors. The camera loves shades of soft pink and muted blues, mixed with sophisticated light neutrals like heather gray, creams, leather brown, and white. Feel free to vary the shades of the colors, too. That softer color palette fits beautifully into a natural environment, and can easily be paired in so many different ways. And of course, if you ever have any questions about what to wear or simply need a second opinion, I’m here for you!


Before your session, pack a bag with snacks, water, and any small objects like toys or lollipops that can help us get their attention when it’s time to look at the camera. If they’re old enough to understand you, it’s a good idea to prepare them for what’s to come before the session starts. You can do this by explaining how much the photos mean to you. This way, they know to be on their best behavior. Many families discuss what’s to come together and pick something fun in advance as a treat after the session. Little incentives like an ice cream cone post-session, a trip to the park, or whatever it is they love, go a long way in making these sessions even more fun.

It also helps if their bellies are full and they’ve had some good rest beforehand. Once you prepare them physically and mentally, then feel free to give them (and you) grace! ​They’re little, and we know that some days don’t always go as planned. We’ve seen it all and will make sure to get you great photos, regardless of their moods. Our goal is to make this as fun and stress-free as it possibly can be for you and your family!


You’re probably thinking wow Ashleigh, that was a lot! Just remember, I created this guide to help make your portrait session experience something you’ll look back fondly on for years and years to come. At the end of the day, though, the location you choose and the outfits you select won’t matter nearly as much as the memories you make together. Your future memories are the most important thing to us, and we want your session to be a time for you and your loved ones to let go and enjoy it. Have fun together. Laugh a lot. And I’ll take care of the rest!


Ready to book your own session? Let’s chat now and get to know one another. Want to see more pictures? Follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. I hope you like what you see!

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