• Faye

How to Prepare for Your Outdoor Portrait Session

You've just booked your outdoor portrait session! Now, what are you going to wear? How are you going to do your hair and makeup? How will you pose? These may be questions going through your head right now. Based on my experience capturing many individuals, couples, families, and large events, I'm sharing some recommendations on how you can look and feel your best when taking outdoor photos. By all means, be yourself so take my advice with a grain of salt.

My recommendations cover: how to choose clothing & accessories, deciding on make up, using props, how to pose, and how to be physically and mentally prepared.

Clothing & Accessories

Dress accordingly & comfortably. Depending on the photoshoot location, weather, and time of the day, I recommend dressing accordingly and per the season. It would be odd to be in a bikini when it's raining out! We also don't want you to be sweating profusely in a heavy sweater on a 90 degree day. When you're comfortable, you'll more likely to do better with posing, smiling, and being yourself.

Stay away from bright colors. The safest bets are pastels and deeper or richer shades. Bright colors can take the spotlight away from your face and other features, and are also more reflective. For those who want to look a bit more slender, darker colors are recommended!

Stay away from white if taking photos during sun peak times. White, similar to other very bright colors, is very reflective. It can be difficult during post-editing to tone down overexposure on white outfits. The only exception to white is if the photoshoot is indoors or on an overcast day.

Keep accessories to a minimum or have one statement piece. Having too many accessories can distract from your face. I recommend minimizing the number of accessories if you plan on wearing many, and also wearing them in balance. For example, if you plan to wear large earrings, pair it with a dainty necklace. If you plan to wear a flashy necklace, pair it with small stud earrings. Don't be scared to make a statement with an accessory also!

For family photoshoots, color & style coordination are key! You don't exactly have to match from head to toe but make sure the color shades of clothing you choose for all members of the family are all in the same color family or in the same theme. For the style coordination, I recommend keeping everyone on the same occasion. If you plan on going casual, make sure everyone is going casual. If you plan on going formal, make sure everyone is also going formal.


Minimal & natural-looking make-up is best. While glitter and bright eyeshadows may look great in person, they may not come out great on camera, especially outdoors. Glitter is reflective and can irritate your eyes and bright eyeshadows distract from your natural features. While I believe that everyone has their own unique sense of style and creative visions for make-up, I always recommend an "enhanced" natural approach just to be safe. This means focusing on one's natural features and using makeup to only enhance those features.

Here's what I recommend for an enhanced natural look: For foundation, I recommend a light dewy coverage. Heavy foundation can show up cakey and can actually enhance wrinkles or fine lines on the face. For eyeshadow, I recommend a natural shade (such as a soft brown, soft pink or a soft coral). Go thin on eyeliner, use mascara or natural-looking falsies, add a touch of blush, and highlight your cheekbones for that nice glow when the sunlight hits your face.


Props can bring more variety and fun into photos! Feel free to bring props of your choosing depending on the theme you envision for the shoot. For example, if you plan to sit on a grassy field, you can bring a picnic blanket. If you are announcing a pregnancy, you can bring an announcement placard or an ultrasound photo. If you want if you want more movement in the photos, you can bring a scarf. Many possibilities!

For photoshoots that involve babies or children, I recommend bringing their favorite toy or something flashy or loud to get their attention. It has helped immensely with getting a baby's attention when I am holding their favorite toy. They will also smile more if they think I am playing with them and just happen to be holding a camera also.

Posing in Front of the Camera

Determine your best side. I like to ask clients if they have a best side and it's not just the side that they think look best but the side that they are also the most comfortable posing with (mine is my left). Faces are unique and most are not symmetrical, and when we pose, we tend to naturally choose a side that is the most comfortable. Determine your best side. You can do this by taking a selfie or figuring it out in the mirror.

Keep a strong core but relax other body parts. A strong posture is important if you want to come through confidently in your photos. We also want you to look relaxed as well. My recommendation is to keep a straight posture and a strong core while relaxing other parts of your body - chin down, soft shoulders, relaxed jaw and forehead, and don't forget to take deep breathes. I know, a lot to remember but no worries, I will be sure to remind you!

What to do with your hands?!

It's always awkward to figure out what to do with hands! Here are a few recommendations: putting hands in your pants or dress pockets, letting them hang loosely and naturally at your sides. For women, touching their hair, and for men, putting a hand to the chin. Posing against something or holding a prop are other great ways to get creative with hands.

Practice in front of your mirror. Don't be shy to practice poses and get to know how you look from certain angles in front of the mirror.

Physical & Mental Prep

A full night's rest can help refresh you for the next day! I have clients who like to do a day of self-care beforehand (getting a mani/pedi, putting on a face mask, drinking a lot of water, etc) to ensure they're feeling and looking their best for the photoshoot day. If you're up late at night or consuming heavy amounts of alcohol, we can guarantee you will look tired, puffy, and hungover the next day. I have definitely been guilty of this!

For photoshoots that involve babies or children, I recommend making sure the little ones are fed and have had a nap before the photoshoot. That way, they've had all their needs met and it will be playtime when it's time to take photos.

Are you feeling more prepared now? I hope these recommendations can help as you plan for the photoshoot day. The most important recommendation though is to not be too hard on yourself! The point is that you are comfortable and being yourself. Take everything I've recommended above with a grain of salt - there are no correct ways to look, as long as you are feeling beautiful.

If you haven't booked your portrait session yet, contact me today!