Styling tips to help you plan your photo shoot

It’s so common to worry about what to wear to a photo shoot, especially when you’re trying to coordinate your family. It can be overwhelming and can be hard to know where to start. I’ve created a Styling Guide, but often people need a little more help. I’m more than happy to help clients with choosing their outfits – you can send me images of clothing you’re considering, and I can help you along the way. In the meantime, I’ve also decided to create this blog for some visual assistance. When starting to look at outfits, I usually recommend picking one outfit that you love, and then work all others around it. This might be your own outfit, or one of your children’s outfit – but just start somewhere! When searching for your outfits, there are a few things to consider. Please note though, that you don’t need to follow ALL of these guidelines – these are simply things to keep in mind when choosing your outfit – but they are not hard and fast rules. They may just help you get started, or may help you if you’re choosing between two items (for example, you might love a plain black jumper or a thick mustard knit – reading these rules may help you choose the mustard knit as you know that texture and pops of colour are great in photos). In general think: Tones, Texture, Pops of Colour and Pattern and ALWAYS include at least SOME neutrals. Main things to avoid are: too much black, uncomfortable and restrictive clothing, clashing colours and clashing patterns. These are some areas to think about when choosing your outfits:

  1. Location – you want your clothing to suit your location. There’s no point wearing heels and a tight dress on the beach, just as you wouldn’t wear a bikini in the park. Your location will determine the overall ‘mood’ of your outfit choices. For example, if you’re at home go casual to reflect the fact you’re at home – but not your oldest tracksuit! If you’re at the beach, think light and floaty, and if you’re at the park think about something you might wear to a nice barbecue or birthday party.
  2. The location can also help you determine colours used. You want to be able to stand out from your background, whilst also looking like you belong there. At the beach it’s nice to wear lighter clothes in the tones you would see at the beach such as blues, whites, creams and pastels. This also runs the risk of blending into your background, so floaty clothing or clothing with some kind of movement or layers will help. Avoid too much black at the beach as it’s quite a harsh contrast to the softness of the environment. You want to stand out from your environment, but you still want to look like you belong. If you’re in a park with a lot of greenery, then wearing greens, oranges and browns will often cause you to blend into the background rather than stand out from it. Think about using pops of colour to help you stand out from your background, or lighter, pastel clothing. One colour to avoid (as well as too much black), is fluro or overly bright colours – deep, strong colours work much better than bright fluro colours.
  3. Type of session. If you’ve booked a maternity session, you want to be able to show off your baby bump. This is the perfect time to find a beautiful lacey or flowing outfit, but can also be achieved by wearing tighter fitting clothes or a two piece outfit which shows off your bare belly. Try to avoid black over your stomach, as this can hide the tummy rather than enhance it. If you’ve booked a newborn lifestyle session, try to dress your baby in simple clothes. Plain onesies work beautifully to enhance gorgeous baby features. You can always add interest with a gorgeous textured beanie, booties, wraps, blankets or headpiece. Try to avoid two piece outfits on little babies as they can bunch up and detract from your little baby. 
  4. Texture is the perfect way to add another dimension to your images – I love texture!! Texture can be added through knitted jumpers, kimonos, long thick cardigans, or in accessories such as beanies, scarves, umbrellas and blankets. Layers add texture to outfits, as does any type of movement in material (such as flowing dresses or skirts, ruffles and interesting details on tops, long earrings, or ribbons in your hair). 
  5. Tones. When you have more than one person in your shoot, you want to keep in the same tones without overly matching. For example – avoid everyone in blue jeans and white t-shirts – we want something a little more interesting than that! You want to be in the same colour palette – that means you don’t want some in bright colours, some in all black, and some in all white. In fact, try to avoid too much black overall – especially if others in your group are wearing lighter colours. Some black is fine, but just try to avoid it being the overall colour of your outfit (for example stick to black pants or black cardigan, rather than a black top AND black bottoms). If you do want to wear black, then adding colour and texture with accessories and layers is a great idea to break it up. It’s good to have a neutral colour base, and then add in some pops of colour in the same colour palette (perhaps through a patterned kimono, coloured cardigan, textured beanie or colourful skirt). 
  6. Patterns. I actually like patterns! (As long as not EVERYONE is wearing them!). I think they can add interest and texture to your images. I particularly love florals, and stripes or spots. More than one person can wear a pattern as long as they’re in the same tone. Patterns can be added with leggings, jackets, dresses, kimonos and through accessories. Patterns do no mean logos! Avoid logos! 
  7. Pops of colour. If there is a nice neutral base of colours, it can be nice to add some pops of colour. This can help you to stand out from your environment, and create interest in your images. Strong, deep colours, or soft pastel colours work better than bright fluro colours. If you google ‘Complimentary colour wheel’, you will see which colours tend to go well together to create a colour pop as they create visual interest and contrast, whilst still remaining in the same tone (yellow and purple, green and red, blue and orange). When adding colour, it’s always a good idea to add enough neutral tones (such as creams, greys, denim) in order to break up the colour. Also avoid everyone being in a strong colour where possible. You can add a colour pop through a coloured cardigan, headpiece, belt, skirt, or even through jewellery or lipstick. 

One of the most important things to remember when styling for your photo shoot, is that you want to be comfortable, and you want the clothing to be a representation of you and your family. And as for things to AVOID, try to steer clear of these:

  1. Avoid too much black – black is fine as long as you’re not dressed ALL in black (break it up with some colour, texture or layers).
  2. Avoid bright fluro colours. Strong, deep colours work well, as do soft pastels. Bright fluro colours tend to cast their colour over your skin, which doesn’t result in a very appealing skin tone in photos. If you want to add bright fluro colours, do so in small bursts such as through a small accessory, or one small part of a colour in a pattern
  3. Avoid logos – this means front and back of your outfits. A small logo can sometimes be okay, but large logos which take up a large amount of space on your clothing is definitely to be avoided when possible
  4. Avoid clothes which make you feel uncomfortable. You don’t want to constantly be fixing your strap or pulling down your skirt – you want to be comfortable and unrestricted
  5. Avoid clashing patterns. As mentioned, patterns can be great, but you don’t want everyone wearing them. If more than one person is wearing a pattern, you want to stick to the basic rules of styling, and ensure that the patterns are in the same tone as each other.
  6. Avoid newborns in too many layers or bulky clothing. Keep it simple.
  7. Avoid being too hot or too cold – think about the weather when planning your shoot. This is also where layers are great!

I know it can still be overwhelming. The best advice is to step back for a moment and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Where will my shoot be? (Home/Park/Beach) The answer will determine the style of clothing you’ll be looking for
  2. What season are we in? This will determine whether you’re looking at summer or winter clothes, or if you need to think more about layers (Layers are great all year around!)
  3. What type of shoot is it? (If it’s a maternity shoot, you want to find clothes that show off your tummy. If it’s a family shoot, you want to find clothes that suit you as a family)

From there, you’ll have an idea of the type of clothes you’ll be looking for. Look in your wardrobe first (or your kids wardrobes), and find one outfit that you love and want to include in the shoot (or even part of an outfit, such as a skirt, a pair of shoes, or a scarf). Once you’ve found that, work the rest of the outfits around that item, keeping in mind all the tips above regarding tones, patterns, texture and colour. Try not to stress about it, and please feel free to contact me for any additional advice (I often have clients send me images of outfits they’re considering, and I’m more than happy to help you too!). I also have a Pinterest Board which can give you some visual ideas on great combinations!

If you’d like to book a session, or gift a session to a friend, Contact me. I’d love to help you!