Seven Tips for a Better Portrait Session

Your family is the greatest thing that you have ever created. They are a large part of who you are, why you do the things that you do. They are the reason you laugh, cry, and cheer. They keep you up at night and keep you running throughout the day. With a life that full it is often a good idea to pause and preserve that time in your family’s lives with a photo that you can all cherish for years to come…without worrying about what to wear. Dressing for a successful photo session can be easy if you follow these simple suggestions:

1. Remember that everyone in your family is an individual that you love for their individuality. Let that individuality shine through! Instead of having everyone wearing the same outfit, choose a color pallet that pulls the group together. One of my favorite ways of doing this is to have one main “star” with a multi colored outfit that contains a coordinating color worn by the “supporting actors” in the photo shoot. This allows everyone to express themselves while still being part of the group.

2. Accessories can bring that pop of color you need to pull your color scheme together and can be used to bring the photo to life. Children naturally play with accessories such as hats, necklaces, scarves, or ties and it creates life movement to the photo. Accessories also provide multiple looks without having to do multiple clothing changes, a plus in any parent’s book! Just remember to keep the accessory simple as too many patterns as that will be distracting to the eye.

3. Make sure the clothing for the photo session has been tried on for size and look. I like to get my photo session clothing set out and organized at least a week before the appointment. This way I know that all the clothes fit, are clean, and have the look I want without the stress of finding an outfit at the last minute.

4. What you wear or don’t wear on your feet can help make or break a great photo. Sometimes that pop of color that you need can be found in a great pair of boots. Whereas the simplicity of the bare feet can soften the tone of the photo. The shoes chosen often give a glimpse into the personality of each family member as well. One portrait that sticks with me is of a little girl sitting on an old wooden swing dressed in a lovely soft pink sundress and bunny rainboots that she wore around the farm. She was tracing the face on the boots with her finger and laughing. Those boots were nothing fancy but they brought out her personality in that portrait. There is no set rule here. It all depends on the look and tone you are going for with your photos. Just make sure you are stepping out in the style you want to portray.

5. I personally like to choose clothes that are simple and classic so that the portrait will still look fresh ten years from now. Avoid obvious trends, logos, and character clothing. Everyone has seen the dated 80’s look, the big hair, the bright colors, the big sleeves. Everyone knows those photos…and have taken them down from the wall. By keeping your look timeless, you will be happy to keep that portrait up on the wall for years to come.

6. Think about the location of your photo session and make the clothing choices compliment the setting. Again, as an example, the little girl in the soft pink dress and rainboots looks totally natural in the farm setting. She would not look natural in an urban alley next to a decaying brick wall. Sometimes it is easier to choose the right clothing if you choose the setting first.

7. Make sure everyone is comfortable in the clothes they are wearing. A child who is forced to wear a shirt that is itchy or they just do not like, will not make the photo session enjoyable for anyone. Let everyone have some input on the clothing they are going to wear. Your family will be much happier to wear what is chosen if they have some say in the choice. Also, remember to choose clothing that allows free movement to allow for a more natural feel to the portrait.

I hope these hints have helped answer your questions about what to choose to wear in your upcoming family portrait session with Lindsay Helberg Photography. If you do have more questions, please feel free to contact me by email: or call me during office hours at 701-712-7373.

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