Take the stress out of styling "Style is a reflection of your attitude & Personality" -Shawn Ashmore

WhEn yoU fEEl yoU are the best version of yourself, you’ll glow on camera.

When photographing family portraits, if all the outfits & accessories of each family member are in harmony, it will truly be the icing on the cake and help to pull the entire session together. If you follow these tips, you will get the best out of your photo session!
I always start with picking a location. The environment and season will guide the color palette, styles, and overall feel of the session.

In art and design, the color wheel is an indispensable tool. Colors opposite each other on the wheel are complementary. Photographers can use the color wheel to guide clients to colors that look great together and don’t clash. If a family loves the pairing of orange and blue, for example, suggest some pops of orange amongst varying tones of blues in cotton, denim, and chambray fabrics. For single subjects, recom- mend outfits that complement the tones in the location. In a green field, for example, dark pink stands out beautifully.

Warm Colors – colors that make us feel cozy! Think – pink, red, coral, orange, yellow.

Cool Colors – colors that are opposite of warm, and make us feel like we need to grab a scarf and a sweater. Green, blue, purple, violet.

Monochromatic – very calm and soothing (varying shades of one color).

Analogous colors – colors that promote happiness, and energy. These colors that are side-by-side on the color wheel (aka color buddies).

Complementary – complementary colors give off lots of energy, but can be distracting if you aren’t careful. They are opposite and across from each other on the color wheel with a lot of contrast. Equal intensity but opposite.

be comfortable, but spice it up a bit!


but I also want clients to be happy ... and [to] feel good about the experience of having their portraits made.

3 questions to ask yourself:

Is it comfy? do you feel beautiful and is it you?

Use a location for inspiration. The location and time of year should guide the wardrobe choices, and ideally the location is selected before the outfits. A flower garden or field of wildflowers is great for neutral, romantic attire, whereas bold colors are wonderful on a cloudy fall day. Think about how the environment will complement the outfit choices to ensure a cohesive feel
Decide on a color scheme and stick to it! Keep your families favorite colors in mind (what color scheme is in your home?) and try to coordinate the colors within the scheme. Don't go for one color for all the family members, but choose a couple of colors that are in harmony.
I begin by telling a client: Go to your closet and pick out one to two base pieces you really like. Do you have a favorite pair of pants that look great on your husband? A cute dress you just have to wear during your session? A shirt that’s just fabulous on one of your littles? Use those anchor pieces to build the wardrobe for the shoot. Then go from there. Still confused about what color scheme to go with? Look around your home. Is your house light and airy? Then you should go with softer colors and non- busy prints, if any, so the photographs blend in beautifully. Same idea if you love bright colors. Go for contrast! oftentimes color preferences show up in both home décor and wardrobes, making it easy for clients to coordinate a cohesive look that looks great in wall art.

Fashion do's:

There are simple fashion rules that can elevate your clients’ style.

Yes to timeless and classic. This includes simple dresses, button-downs, baby rompers, pea coats, khakis, V-necks, cardigans, ballet flats, brown knee-high boots, scarves, blazers, and fedoras. Trendy items are ok, but keep them as accent pieces. And if possible, keep them timeless, too — like animal prints, military-inspired pieces, sequins, wrap dresses, or patterned clothing. If you have a child who is totally into the trends of the year, try to steer him or her into choosing a trendy accessory, like a headband, scarf, or hat, so you can remove it at some point in the session and get a few classic pics, too.

Yes to mixing it up with different patterns — checks, plaids, stripes are all ok. keep them on a smaller scale if you are trying to style a group. You can play with the large- scaled patterns if you are trying to make a funky, loud, and colorful portrait of an individual. Yes to keeping it real. I have never gone out and bought something special for a shoot and I tell my clients they don’t need to either. Unless of course you want to-I do have a list of recommended shops! I can guarantee you that there is already something in your client’s closet that will work perfectly. keeping it comfy is key, too. Anything stiff and too formal will translate in the picture, especially for kids. keep the dresses and boys’ clothes in soft cottons or flannels. They’ll be more relaxed, and these materials photograph better, too.

Fashion dont's

some of these no's can really break a picture.

No logo wording on clothing. No “Gap,” “Old Navy,” or “Polo” splashed in huge letters across a shirt. Sorry, but this is never OK. When shopping for your family, just stay away from this trend altogether and you will never have this issue. Your eye will go straight to those words, therefore deeming them the most important part of the picture!

No to little newborn babies in starchy, frilly, or detailed outfits. And no jeans! Babies don’t wear jeans. These outfits make baby drown in the material and they can easily get lost in the photo. Keep babies in simple onesies or soft cotton rompers. Also, make sure that all of baby’s clothes fit perfectly. I stress this to my newborn parents. Sometimes I even suggest sizing down in their onesie if they have just grown into that next size because usually that new size is still too big on them.

No to matchy-matchy. Just no. A group of people all in the exact same outfit is boring, strange, and very 1995. Right?

Accessories = good

Hats, belts, socks, scarves and jewelry, shoes, glasses

Any long-sleeved shirt looks way cooler if the sleeves are rolled. Want to make it even better than that? Add a bracelet or watch.

Got some cool shoes that de- serve a spotlight or want to highlight bare piggies? Roll the cuffs!

Toddlers in dresses and skirts should wear a diaper cover.

Tuck in shirts on the little ones to give waists shape and the outfits a more finished, neat look.

Whenever you can, use textured clothing to create beautiful photos. A little boy in a velvet blazer has much more impact than a boy in just a regular cotton one. Think angora, chiffon, suede, leather, tweeds, and wool. Pin back bangs that are growing out, and hair bands to make a darling topknot on girls to change up the look with little effort.

Bring large thin scarves to shoots to use as accessories. They can be wrapped around two people to form a frame and create a really sweet connection. They can be used to play peek-a-boo or to create an awesome movement shot by using it while running or playing a parachute game.

Please accessorize, but less is more. When it comes to kiddos, make sure they like or are used to wearing bows, headbands, hats, before the session day. I never want to take anything away. Incorporating local flavor into a session is also fun — as long as it isn’t distracting or takes away from the outfits.

Having family photos taken is so exciting but it can also be daunting to pull together outfits for the entire family. Where do you start? As a photographer, you know what looks great on camera, and guiding clients as they pull together outfits is an invaluable service that will keep clients coming back.

Begin with mom. It is so important for the mom to feel relaxed, confident, and beautiful on the day of the family session. I always ask mom if she prefers a dress or pants and then assist in building options from there. Think about the practicality of the outfit. Does she have young kids and will be moving or crouching a lot? Then a short dress might not be a great fit in this scenario, but longer dresses, maxi skirts, or pants would be a great place to start.

Use similar color families to keep the outfits cohesive and varying lengths on top and bottom to add texture. You don’t want everyone to look too similar. My family consists of four young boys, and it is hard to make sure they aren't all in jeans and a t-shirt or shorts and a polo. It is easier to achieve varying looks if you have both boys and girls. For our family specifically,

I try to have a variety of short sleeves with long pants or cuffed shirts with shorts. I also try to make sure not everyone has a collar on their shirt, so I often opt for V-neck tee shirts or hoodies for a couple of the kids.

Layers can easily elevate and add interest to an outfit. Add a solid button up left open or a cardigan over a blousy top or dress, and hats and scarves for winter sessions. It is those little details that pull the location and outfits together for a visually appealing, stunning family session.

Shoes matter. Overlooking the shoes is a big mistake that I notice time and again. Remember shoes play an important part in an outfit, and sometimes no shoes at all is the best choice. Footwear should be dependent on the environment, season, and type of session.

Make sure the youngest doesn’t wear the same color as mom and dad. The baby of the family is most likely going to be picked up by either parent at some point during the session. Make sure her outfit contrasts nicely with mom’s and dad’s clothing.

Lay everything out together. Before I make my commitment to clothing for any family session, I lay it all out on the ground and see how it looks together. Trust your gut – if something feels a little off, it probably is. I usually have a few options that I switch in and out until I have it just right. Once it feels like you’ve got it, set the outfits aside and forget about them until your session or you could drive yourself a little crazy.

A smile is your best accessory. Don't forget to remind your clients that they will look beautiful when they are having fun. Smiling, laughing, being affectionate, and enjoying your time together is the perfect icing on the cake.

favorite shops:

where to shop

There are so many clothing stores out there. So which are the best? I consistently advise clients to visit these favorites.

For Kids:


For Women:


For Men:



Created with images by Shanna Camilleri - "Another freezing day in Montreal" • Chelsea fern - "@fefi5000 and daughter. Shot by @ChelseaFernPhoto" • Steve Johnson - "untitled image" • Alexandra Gorn - "wardrobe" • Luke Braswell - "move" • Micheile Henderson - "untitled image" • Julie Johnson - "Tender Love" • Liana Mikah - "A Boy and his Mama"

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