Portrait Photoshoot Outfit Guide

welcome to the outfit guide

you are in the right spot to plan a stunning outfit for your next photoshoot.

Hey there! I'm glad you're here! I'm Kate. I've been a professional photographer since 2019, and have coached many clients through planning their outfits for their photos.

In this guide, I'll lay out my top tips and some industry lessons that I've learned.

Ready to plan your photos?

Get ready to be an absolute boss.

you are here to

create outfits that make you look and feel confident, beautiful, and authentic on camera

Part one

setting the scene

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01

Embrace your personality

Consider your location

Choose a vibe

A photoshoot isn't just about capturing images; it's about conveying emotions and telling a story through visuals. Before you open your closet doors, let's chat about the mood you'd like to evoke. Are you aiming for a relaxed, natural ambiance, or perhaps you envision a more sophisticated and poised vibe? Your outfit serves as a vital tool in translating your intended narrative into stunning photographs.

The setting of the photoshoot becomes the backdrop to your story, much like a stage for a theatrical performance. Whether we find ourselves amidst nature's beauty, surrounded by urban energy, or nestled in a cozy studio, your outfit should blend harmoniously with the environment. Think of your clothing as an integral part of the overall composition, ensuring that the visual elements work in unison. An outfit may be a perfect match for a studio setting, but not as well suited for outdoors.

While your photoshoot may have a specific theme, your personal style should never take a backseat. Your chosen outfit should reflect your individuality and make you feel comfortable. True confidence shines through when you're authentically yourself, and that authenticity translates into compelling photos that resonate with your personality.

Your photos need to be uniquely you. And-- if you choose an outfit that you are comfortable in, you'll enjoy your photoshoot more!

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part two

planning the fit

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The Palette
Much like an artist selects colors for their canvas, your outfit's color palette and patterns play a significant role in the visual harmony of the photograph. Opt for colors that complement each other, avoiding jarring clashes. Subtle patterns and textures can introduce depth and dimension to your ensemble, creating a captivating visual story.
(See my favorite color palettes below)

Hot Tips!
If your photos are going to be on a dark background, choose a light outfit. If they are going to be on a light background, choose a dark outfit.
Doing couple's photos? Have one person wear a darker color and one wear a lighter color so that there is visual separation between the two of you in photos.

Patterns
If you wear patterned clothing items, opt for a medium size, or tiny print (ie little flowers on a dress).
I encourage clients to steer clear of tiny stripes and bold patterns. Both tiny stripes and bold patterns tend to be distracting on camera, and pull the focus of the photos away from you as a person.

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The Accessories
Accessories are the details that can take your outfit from good to great. Consider incorporating items such as jewelry, watches, scarves, or hats to add a touch of sophistication and flair. Accessories act like punctuation marks, emphasizing and enhancing the overall narrative of your ensemble.

Hot Tips!
DO NOT wear smart watches. Technology changes quickly, and unless you are doing an athletic shoot, tech is one of the fastest ways to age your photos.
Bring a bag to put your wallet, keys, hair ties, and other non-photographed accessories in so that you don't have awkward pocket bulges.
Got glasses? If your lenses change to sunglasses outdoors, consider doing a few portraits without them on.

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The Fit
Different outfits have the power to accentuate various aspects of your body's unique form. Embrace what makes you distinct and select cuts and styles that enhance your physique. Our goal is to create an environment where you feel confident and empowered, allowing your true self to shine.
Not comfortable in an outfit? Donโ€™t wear it. A good rule of thumb is that if you donโ€™t feel comfortable, you wonโ€™t look comfortable on camera.

Hot Tips!
tight shirt + loose pants OR tight pants + loose shirt
Generally, wearing one tighter and one looser garment will be most flattering to most body types.

Dress Length
Wearing a dress? Make sure that it is long enough that you can comfortably sit, kneel, and twirl. Wearing a long dress? Make sure that you can walk easily without tripping on it.

Fitted Outfits
Wearing a fitted outfit? Make sure to plan undergarments accordingly to help prevent unnatural lines and shapes underneath the outfit.

Shoes
If we are walking a bit for your shoot, plan to wear shoes that fit properly and will not cause excessive blistering or other injuries.

favorite color palettes

A few of my favorite outfit color palettes for photoshoots!

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part three

the test run

try the fit on

Just as an actor rehearses lines before a performance, trying on your chosen outfit is a pivotal step. Ensuring a proper fit and comfort prior to our session allows us to address any adjustments that may be necessary. This preparation ensures you'll feel at your best during our time together.

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have a backup outfit

Life has a way of throwing surprises our way, and photoshoots are no exception. Whether it's an unexpected change in weather or a creative spark in the moment, having an alternative outfit ready can save the day. Flexibility ensures that we can adapt to evolving circumstances and still capture stunning, memorable moments.

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combine the pieces

Consider your outfit, hair, and makeup as essential components of a unified whole. Like a conductor guiding an orchestra, our aim is to create a seamless and captivating composition. This coordination ensures that our photos tell a consistent and engaging story, resulting in a series of images that resonate with authenticity and artistry.

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the don'ts

the matchy matchy

There are a few things to watch out for and avoid during the outfit-planning process.

wearing matching clothing (colors or patterns) will visually distract from you being the subject of the photos. Coordinate, but don't match.

the neons

unless we are doing a disco photoshoot, sportswear, or something with neon lights, it is usually best to avoid super bright clothing items.

the tourist

got a bold hawaiian shirt that you love? Maybe a bold patterned dress? in most cases, bold and colorful will not help achieve your photo vibe well.

*so many pieces*

I'm excited to see you absolutely rock your outfit!

You're going to look so cool.

Here's a quick recap of my top tips for planning a great outfit.
01. Choose a vibe
02. Consider your location
03. Embrace your personality
04. Choose a palette
05. Pick your accessories
06. Consider fit
07. Try the fit on
08. Have a backup outfit
09. Combine the pieces

As we approach our much-anticipated portrait session, remember that your choice of outfit contributes significantly to the overall visual impact. Your photos are to showcase you, and planning your outfit well will help achieve that. ๐Ÿ™‚ I'm excited to embark on this creative journey with you, and I can't wait to see the stunning results we'll achieve together! ๐Ÿ“ธ๐ŸŒŸ

Some of my favorite outfits I've photographed ๐Ÿ™‚

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About the Author

Kathrine Birch | Owner and Lead Photographer at Aspen & Birch

Hey there! I've been serving my clients in the Greater Portland area as a professional photographer since 2019.

I believe that photography is an art process designed to show the best parts of you. My goal with photography is to embrace and showcase the natural beauty of others. I am confident in posing all body types and cultivating an environment where people look and feel their best. All people are beautiful, and it is an absolute joy to display your natural beauty through my photography.

I also enjoy creating meaningful content in the form of writing and educational resources for both photographers and couples in the wedding planning life stage.

When I'm not behind my camera, you can often find me taking business classes, hanging out with my family and friends and church, listening to a random conglomeration of music, and vanquishing the hobo spiders that like to invade my basement.

I look forward to connecting with you!

Take a look at my work

More about me

Want to book a fun portrait photoshoot?

Let's Chat!

I'm excited to connect with you ๐Ÿ™‚

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