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Preparing for your portrait session

Look your best during your portrait photography session. Here are a few tips and recommendations about getting ready.

General Wardrobe Tips

Avoid white or light colored clothing except when worn with business attire under jackets or sweaters.

For couples or groups, avoid wearing exactly the same color. The same shade of red looks "matchy" instead of coordinated.

Don't choose outfits featuring strong patterns or logos. Solid colors are safest.

Avoid wrinkles. Hang your outfit in your car and dress when you arrive.

Stay away from layered outfits as they can appear bulky in photographs.

Make sure that undergarments and straps aren't visible.

Bare arms compete for attention in photos. Unless you're very thin, consider avoiding sleeveless outfits.

Fabrics fade fast. Consider a fresh, new outfit for your session.

For portraits of couples, choose an outfit suitable for a fancy cocktail party. For men, I recommend a collared, button-down shirt with a well-fitting sports jacket and slacks or dark jeans and closed-toe leather dress shoes or deck shoes. For women, I recommend sundresses, cocktail dresses, or a skirt with blouse. And fancy shoes. Avoid baggy clothing, shorts, cargo pants, khaki pants, t-shirts, polo shirts, sweats, jogging suits, leggings, athletic shoes, flip-flops, or men's sandals.

For outdoor portraits, having a backup outfit is great, but we'll often move quite far from our starting point. That means we typically won't have time to return and change clothes. If you need to change, you'll probably want to extend your session by 30 minutes.

If we're in a garden setting, high heels will sink into the grass, so consider wedges. We'll also be walking quite a bit, so keep that in mind when you're making shoe choices if comfort is important.

I'd love to preview your wardrobe choices. Email or text me photos of your proposed outfits and I'll get back to you with a considered opinion.

To reduce signs of sweating, guys should wear an undershirt. Make sure that it isn't visible at your open neckline. Consider a v-neck or deep neck undershirt.

Don't wear excessive makeup. We want the photos to look like the real you.

Light or neutral fingernail polish is best. Bright, distinctive colors are distracting. Manicures are recommended.

Shave a few hours before the portrait session. Facial hair can be visible, even within a few hours of shaving.

Remove stray hairs from noses, ears, and brow lines. Tweezers are your friend.

Avoid alcohol and get a good night's sleep. Bags under your eyes detract from photos.

Remove items from pockets including keys, phones, wallets, and makeup. Those items can be visible in photos. Leave them behind when appropriate.

Ideal Wardrobe Colors

Choose wardrobe (and makeup) colors that complement your skin-tone, hair color, and eyes. These color schemes and their complementary colors are traditionally segmented into four groups, and named for the seasons Winter, Summer, Autumn, and Spring.

For more information about selecting the best colors for your wardrobe and your makeup, I recommend the book Color Me Beautiful by Carole Jackson. Although this book was originally published in the early 1980s, its content remains timeless.


Winter complexions have dark or very light hair. Skin tones are often pale white, olive, or dark. Many Asians, African-American, Hispanic, and natural white-blondes fit within this coloring category. Intense colors like black, navy blue, red, and hot pink are ideal along with lighter colors including pastels in blues, pinks, and yellows. It's always best to avoid brown earthy tones along with subdued colors like beige, orange, and gold.


Autumn complexions have golden skin undertones that can be described as pale peach, golden beige, or golden brown. Individuals with red and brown hair and golden or dark eyes fit in this category as well as some individuals with golden brown or black hair. Colors that are most complementary include rich warm colors like camel, beige, olive, orange, gold, dark brown, and warm gray. Colors like black, white, pastels, and blue tones should be avoided.


People with Summer complexions have very pale skin with pink undertones. Many individuals with natural blonde hair and sometimes brunettes with pale skin and eyes are often segmented to this category. Since there's not much contrast between the skin, eyes, and hair of someone with a Summer complexion, clothing choices are particularly important. For best results, try to choose neutral colors and pastels. Some excellent color choices include powder blue, dusty pink, mauve, lavender, plum, and pale yellow. Vivid colors, earth tones, black, and orange should be avoided.


People with Spring complexions have subtle golden skin tones that are usually creamy white or peach. Individuals with this coloring usually include natural golden blondes, auburn, or strawberry blonde redheads. Members of this group also often have light green or blue eyes as well as freckles and rosy cheeks. Colors that are most complementary include pale, soft colors like peach, camel, golden yellow, golden brown, aqua, ivory, bright greens, reds, blues, and coral. Colors like black, white, and dark or dull colors should be avoided.

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