One of the biggest questions I get is, “What should we wear for our session?” Deciding what to wear can be an intimidating decision, whether it’s engagements, family portraits, or senior portraits. I get it – knowing how to dress for your pictures can seem daunting. It’s hard to know where to start. However, one of the awesome things that my clients receive is a style guide created by me exclusively for Katie Houk Photography clients. Today, I thought I’d share a few tips with y’all in a series of blog posts. These posts are aimed to help elevate your wardrobe selection, create a high-end look, and ensure that your images are timeless and flattering for years to come.
In this post, I answer all things related to choosing the right patterns and colors. Stay on the lookout for future posts about how to dress for formal sessions, hair and makeup tips, styling kids, how to accessorize, and more!
Be cautious with bold or busy prints because they do not always photograph well. This rule also applies to really small or intricate prints, such as small checkers, tiny lines, or polka dots. And when it comes to stripes, vertical stripes are more flattering. This is because they add length, while horizontal can create an illusion of more width. For example, see Sarah in a vertical-striped jumpsuit for her senior session.
Remember with patterns that less is more. This is especially true if we are photographing in a busy location or in a natural outdoor environment. Nature can often speak for itself, so dress more simply and in more neutral colors.
Colors that are timeless and flattering include pastels, jewel tones, and neutrals like black, white, soft pink, taupe, tan, camel, or brown (when in doubt, neutrals are always classic). See Carrie and Wesley in neutrals of sage and cream that really work with their location. The result? Visually pleasing and balanced images that will be gorgeous for years to come.
Stay away from colors that are too bold, like hot pink or purple. Choose jewel tones over primary colors. For example, burgundy over red, mustard or burnt orange over yellow, sage or emerald over green, powder blue or navy over royal blue. And, while we are on the subject of blue – this color is flattering on any skin tone. AnaSara and Jake demonstrate this in their engagement session below.
Yellow can be good for dark skin tones and suntanned skin. However, run from anything too yellow if you have a light complexion. It can reflect back on your skin and create unflattering bruise-like hues.
Additionally, limit your color palette to 2-3 colors, with one central color. Savannah and Kyle did this by choosing black and gray.
When I styled my husband and I for our casual engagement pictures, I stuck with neutral tones and layers. Don’t worry, we’ll talk more about layers in the next post. Keeping the same base of his loafers, khakis and button down, Tyler also wore a pullover sweater in a neutral color that could be thrown on or off for different shots. I wore a black shirt, brown boots, and white jeans. I alternated accessorizing with a leather jacket and a cardigan and floppy hat. This made these two shots feel like completely different outfits – even though it was just changing the outer layer. We finished off with watches for a subtle classic feel, and I threw on some quick lipstick to help my makeup pop.
As a final example, for my family’s annual Christmas card picture, I set a color scheme of dark green, beige, and black. The central color was dark green, to keep with the holiday vibe yet stay away from those typical “Christmas” bright red and greens. I had each family member style themself off of those three colors. They picked their own outfits so that they felt comfortable and confident. The result is a look that compliments each other but isn’t too “matchy.”
See? Knowing how to dress yourself and your family for pictures is not as daunting as it seems.
I hope you found this post about how to dress for pictures helpful! If you did, please let me know which tip was the most helpful in the comments below. Feel free to also leave any questions you have about wardrobe styling, as well as any topics you hope to see covered in future posts about what to wear!
Sep 16, 2021