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AMarie Portrait Artistry

Style Guide

Do you offer your clients help with styling?

This is why you need a style guide to help your clients choose an outfit for their session.  A style guide helps ease your clients into choosing their outfits for the photo session. 

If styling people comes easy to you then this part should also be easy. For me it does not, as much as I would like to say that I have a good sense of fashion I don’t. To form my style guide I did a quick internet search and looked at samples of style guides from other photographers. I wrote down some ideas and I also write gown ideas that come to me after a session or just from everyday life. If a client showed up to a session with completely wrinkled shirt or sheer dress, those are things I would add to my style guide. 

I can’t even count how many times clients will ask me what they should wear. It is much easier to give them a copy of my style guide first and then have them come to me after they already have some idea in their head and I can help them add the little details to their outfits. 

If you are looking for a little inspiration here is an example of the style guide I am currently using. 

Style Guide
1. Steer clear of fluorescents. Fluorescent colors tend to color cast on faces, necks and hair. They’re harsh sometimes. I always recommend versions of primary colors. Yellow (mustard), red (maroon, brick), and blue (navy, royal).

2. Stay away from wearing a lot of green when having photos taken in
grassy/wooded areas. It’s just too much green. Green as an accent color is great, though! You want to stand out amongst all the greenery you’re surrounded by.

3. To get the flow going with wardrobe for your family, start with one outfit that you really like. From there, build from it for everyone else. In the image below, it was the mustard dress Ashley is wearing that started the whole theme of their wardrobe.

4. Wear what you feel good in! Moms and dads, this tip is for you specifically. If you aren’t comfortable in what you’ve chosen for pictures, it will show. If you can’t find a dress you feel good in, but you rock a good pair of skinny jeans, do that. If you can barely walk in heels, there’s no harm in doing cute and comfy flat boots or pretty sandals. If you can’t do a heel (like me), a wedge is a great alternative, too.

5. Layer, layer layer! Layers add dimension and depth. In the summer? Layer your dress with a cute belt and pendant necklace. In the fall and winter? cardigans, belts, statement necklaces, scarves, hats, blazers, etc.

6. Purchase clothes to fit. And fit well. I know we all have a hard time buying clothes for our kiddos that don’t leave a lot of room for growth, seeing as they do grow so fast. However, keep in mind that for pictures, too large of a polo shirt, saggy ill-fitting jeans or a jacket that’s falling off the shoulders looks sloppy. You’ll be purchasing outfits specifically for pictures, most likely, so choose something that fits perfectly, or even just a little bit snug. Make it look almost tailored. Go a size smaller in jackets, cardigans or blazers. A too-big jean jacket will not compliment shape. It hides hips and waist for moms. If you typically wear a size medium jacket, try on the small. Even if it’s just a little snug in the shoulders, it should lay nicely around your hips and waist, creating a tailored look.

7. Matching is out. Coordinating is in. And anything goes nowadays! We know your family is together. We’re photographing you together! So, wearing the same colored shirt, pants, shoes, etc. looks a bit awkward. Coordinating color is what really brings wardrobe together. I usually choose two to three main colors of wardrobe, and maybe one accent pop of color. Also, mixing stripes with plaids and tweeds is okay! Expression is important. We want to see your personality through your wardrobe.

8. Minimal wardrobe for newborn sessions. The times I recommend clients keep wardrobe super simple is during newborn photos. In these cases, you don’t want the clothing to overshadow the precious little person that we’re showcasing. I recommend grey, black, and white for these shoots. If we’ll be posing a big sister with the baby, light pink is a good color that adds a little something, but again, it’s not enough to overpower the baby.

9. Dress for the weather, and be flexible. If you’re from any state in the Midwest, you know that it can be 50 and cloudy one day, 75 and sunny 12 hours later. So, be prepared to be flexible with wardrobe, in case you have to switch it up last minute. If you have plans for a cute sundress for your daughter, and the weather ends up being 20 degrees colder than you were anticipating, switch it up a bit by adding layers. Tights, boots, scarf, slouchy hat, cardigan. Dress appropriately for the weather that day, even if it doesn’t go with your original plan. If your child is sweating profusely in a sweater during his shoot, he won’t be happy. And on the same token, if your child is wearing a tank dress and the weather dips too much in the evening, she’ll be a grump, and it’ll reflect in the final images. I speak these words from experience. There are a couple of instances I can think of that I should
have taken this advice with my own kids!

10. Dress for the situation. Just as dressing for weather is important, dressing for the situation is just as important. A fancy black dress and a dress shirt and tie wouldn’t be the most appropriate wardrobe for a forest or grassy setting. More formal wear would be more appropriate for an urban or “big city” feel. Also, if you’re shooting a lifestyle session in your client’s home, make sure they know that wardrobe will take second fiddle to the actual lifestyle images you’ll be capturing. I tell my lifestyle clients to wear whatever it is that they’d wear at home. No coordinating or matching necessary. Those sessions are meant to be as normal, true to life and every day as possible.