Portrait Session Style Tips


February 23, 2021

One of the most common questions I receive after clients book with me is, “Can you help us figure out what to wear?” The answer is absolutely yes! I love being able to guide my clients through the styles and colors that will work best for their sessions!

You may notice that many of my clients tend to dress in similar ways for their photo sessions. That is not because I dress clients based on my personal taste- although I’ll never turn down a dusty blue outfit option 😉 – but rather because there is a sort of science behind the things that look best on camera. That may sound silly, but let me explain!

Clients who choose me as their photographer generally love bright, classic images. There are three main factors that create that style of image: my camera settings, the location/lighting of the photo, and- you guessed it- the style of clothing my clients wear. So let’s break this down!

Dress It Up

In general, I encourage my clients to dress up as opposed to dressing down. The main reason is that photography is a luxury experience. If you are investing in photography services, it is likely that you are either documenting a milestone or it has been quite some time since you have invested in high quality professional images. So this is the perfect excuse to get dressed to the nines! Plus, dressier outfits tend to photograph more elegantly and tend to flatter most body types better than casual outfits.

For the ladies, this usually looks like a dress, skirt or jumpsuit- all of which are fantastic options! They allow movement in your photos and flatter almost every body.

For the guys, I usually recommend a button up shirt, a pair of dressier pants, and possibly even a suit jacket. Just make sure that the shirt/jacket combo you choose doesn’t restrict your movement since you definitely won’t want to look stiff in your photos.

**Note** Whether you choose to dress up or not, it’s equally important to make sure that each person in the photo is the same level of dressed-up or casual!

Choose Your Brands Carefully

I heard this tip from a fellow photographer, Suzy Collins, on Instagram and thought it was too good not to share! When choosing your clothing for photo sessions, try to have everyone in the photo wearing the same (or similar) brand of clothing. Clothing brands tend to use very specific colors, fits, and materials for all of their products- which is why you can always spot a family wearing Lilly Pulitzer or Vineyard Vines. Wearing the same brand is an extra way to ensure that your photos are super cohesive no matter how many outfits or locations you have. Plus, it will take some of the hassle out of choosing your outfits because you’ll know that all of the pieces were designed to go together!

Coordinate, Don’t Match

Do you remember the whole “white shirts and khaki pants” phase of photography? Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief that that’s over! 😉 While I know that most people today won’t go to that extreme of matching for photo sessions, you may still think that you and your partner/family should wear hints of the same color. This actually isn’t the case! In order to have the most cohesive and flattering photos, you will want to choose a broader color palette that allows each person to create unique yet cohesive outfits (ex. light colors for a romantic feel, bold colors for a fun and exciting feel and muted tones for an earthy feel).

Keep Location in Mind

Something I love about portrait sessions is the flexibility we have in choosing all kinds of locations- downtown, beaches, marshes, parks, etc. There are so many options! That being said, keep your location in mind when choosing what to wear, not only so that your outfits are cohesive with your backdrop, but also to make sure you’ll be comfortable throughout the session! For example, if you’re planning a beach session, you may be in the water up to your knees or sitting/lying on the sand, which may affect the clothing you choose for your session.


Now that you have the main parts of your outfit nailed down, let’s talk accessories! This is one of my favorite parts of outfit planning because this is where I get to see clients becoming very creative and taking their sessions in lots of different directions. Adding any kind of accessory to your photo session- jewelry, hats, cute umbrellas for rainy sessions, and even bouquets of fresh flowers- can take your photos to the next level! Plus they add some really great variety to your final gallery. The key to accessorizing for photo sessions is to choose things that are totally you and that will solidify the overall look that you want your images to have.

The Fine Print

I never want clients to feel like I am telling them how they have to dress for their photo sessions because, whether they follow my advice or not, I want them to walk away with photos that truly speak to who they are as individuals/couples. I simply aim to share the tips and tricks that, in my experience, end up producing the best results and the happiest clients!

That being said, you will never regret wearing something that is totally YOU, so choose something that you feel great in and that flatters your body, complexion, and personal style!

If you have a photo session coming up or may want to book one soon, be sure to bookmark this guide so you can refer back to it when planning your session! And if you have any style questions at all feel free to reach out here and I would love to help!

More about Miranda

I'm Miranda, a coastal photographer based in Charleston, SC! I believe in documenting the real love stories of kindhearted people through bright, timeless imagery and a joyful, simplified experience!

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