Preparing for your couple’s session
Hey hey! I'm so thrilled to have you in front of my lens!
I know it can be nerve-wracking to be in front of the camera. I've been in your shoes! I'll be coaching and encouraging you the whole time so it’s as easy and comfortable as possible, and we can really set ourselves up for success with just a little preparation beforehand. I'll be prepping my bag with lenses, batteries, and memory cards - your job is to check out the info below! Read through these tips and take some time several days before your session to prep. You will be so glad you did.
As you read through this, it may seem like I’m giving you lots of rules and things not to do. I promise my intention is definitely not to be restricting. I want you to feel like yourself, for sure. That said, after years of doing sessions with all kinds of couples, I’ve been able to narrow down what really looks the best in photos and what doesn’t. It’s my hope that you were drawn to my work because of a certain style - following these tips just helps ensure that you’ll get the same timeless look from your photos that’s evident in the work of mine you’ve already seen!
All of the photos in this guide are examples of what DOES look good. Hopefully they give you some ideas and inspiration! Always, always text me if you’re unsure on outfits! We’ll find something that makes you look and feel amazing.
THE PORTRAIT GUIDE
Styles come and go, but certain types of clothes just look more timeless, photograph better and enhance the overall look of your photos. If you're having trouble deciding what to wear, text me! I'm happy to send suggestions and give honest feedback on outfit ideas. Because changing clothes takes time and interrupts the flow of the session once you're in the groove, we'll stick to two outfits max (one for mini sessions).
CLOTHING Do's and don'ts
DO stick to light neutral colors as the base for your outfits. Grayish blue, blush pink, taupe, khaki, light gray, cream, olive green, and tan - earthy tones - these are all perfect choices when it comes to the ideal color palette. Soft and heathery colors are the name of the game here and truly work best for my style of shooting & editing, but if you’d prefer something darker, especially in the fall and winter months, consider jewel tones. Plum, mustard yellow, dark green - these can all work well too! I’d stay away from red, maroon, and black (if you do want to do a dark color, go for navy instead).
DO step it up a notch from casual. Even if dressing up is not your everyday style, I promise you won't regret going dressier. In fact, for couples' photos, I recommend one or both of the girl's outfits be a dress. Longer maxi dresses, especially in a nicer material, always look great in photos and are universally flattering. Think loose and flowy, but not baggy. For your other outfit, consider a nice tunic or kimono, a jumpsuit, or a skirt and sweater combo. For guys, I’d pick out two collared button-downs, maybe a sweater or vest to layer, paired with nice jeans or dockers/chinos. If he has a sport coat, especially in a light gray or tan, have him bring it!
DO coordinate. No need to match, but your colors should complement each other. Neutrals pair well together and can also offset a bolder choice. So if one of you is wearing a bold color or something with a simple pattern, the other one should wear more muted solids.
DO go for something with texture, especially in colder months. Corduroy, suede, wool, chunky knits, velvet, lace - those are all great! Softness is key.
DO iron or steam everything beforehand, and keep the other outfits you bring with you on hangers to avoid wrinkles. It's hard to edit those out!
DO leave the arm party at home - hair ties, Apple Watches, Fitbits, any other wrist technology...
DON'T wear "busy" clothing. Stay away from stripes, and for plaids, the simpler the better. Tiny squares and two-toned plaids work fine, but anything with BIG squares or lots of bold intersecting lines, not so much. Floral can be busy, so it's best if paired with solid, soft neutrals like mentioned above. If you go with a floral pattern, again, the simpler and softer, the better.
DON'T have visible logos. The tiny logos on the chest pocket of guys' button-downs are fine, but nothing with big logos or text.
DON'T wear golf shirts. Nothing against golfers, but golf shirts just do not photograph well - 99% of the time in photos, they're unflattering on even the fittest of guys. Plus, polyester has a sheen to it that looks out of place next to other materials. Guys, I promise: you will not regret wearing a nice cotton button-down instead.
DON'T wear t-shirts, shorts, flip flops, ball caps, or sneakers. Go with dress shoes or boots for the guys + wedges, booties, heels or nice sandals for the ladies!
Other Clothing Notes
If we’re doing a maternity session: Show. off. your. bump. Be proud! The long stretchy gowns that hug your curves and do that baby bump justice can be found on Etsy. Search "maternity dress for photo shoot" and you'll see a ton of fabulous options - just stick with a soft color. The dress below was a Target find! If you’re more comfortable in a flowy maxi dress, that works great, too.
For in-home sessions: This is where some rules are meant to be broken. You don’t need a super structured look for just hanging out at home! Instead of button downs for the guys, go for a soft sweater in a pale color, or a nicer light-colored solid t-shirt, with jeans or chinos. Ladies, again, texture is key. Soft sweaters, curve-hugging long sleeves … comfy casual. And both of you can just be barefoot (or have your guy wear dark socks), but ladies, know that your toes will probably show!
location, location, location
If you have a location in mind that's meaningful to you as a couple, let's do it! A family ranch, a cool downtown building - I'm up for whatever and always down to explore.
If you don't have anywhere in mind, I've scouted out several great locations in towns where I frequently shoot, so I can suggest a few places depending on whether you prefer open rural settings, other natural environments, or more urban locales. We'll typically stick to one location unless we have two that aren't more than a few minutes' drive from each other.
Little things: Because you'll notice them later. Haircuts for the guys, nail touch-ups for the ladies - but skip the bright mani - they can be distracting in photos! Pale pink nails never fail. If you prefer a contrast, go for a gray!
Professional hair & makeup: Ladies, you cannot go wrong splurging on this for your photos. Tell your man I said so. If you do get ready at home, test your makeup in natural light (by a window) and go a tad bit heavier than normal, but nothing drastic. Opt for a nude or berry shade of lipstick or plain chapstick in lieu of gloss, and bring that (and powder) with you to your session for touch-ups.
Spray tans: I don't advise them. While you do want to cover up tan lines, spray tans never look like your natural skin tone in professional photos, and any flaws in the application will stick out. I do advise lathering up with lotion the day of your session to keep your skin from looking dull.
Extras: Don't feel like you have to pack a whole bag, but lip stuff and powder for touch-ups can’t hurt. I’ll always be checking to make sure your hair looks good and your forehead isn’t shiny!
The Takeaways: Soft colors. Soft textures. Dressy, but still YOU!