Look Your Best, Feel your best

Just About every client asks:

"What do we wear"

Honestly, I’d like to say, “it doesn’t matter” because I want the focus to be on your bond with your family. However wardrobe is important. Not only can certain clothes set the tone for your session -- they can make you feel great. Feeling great, and comfortable, and relaxed is the first step to a successful session. So, here is my best advice for coming up with the perfect wardrobe for your family.

Cristen x

Consider location, Season, and the tone you want to set

If your session is at the Stevens Coolidge Place, anything from rustic to romantic would work. At home, maybe you want to be super casual and relaxed. In the city, you could have a more urban or trendy feel. Are you more traditional and formal? Trendy? Urban? Preppy? Artsy? Let your true personality shine.

Please don't match your outfits.

I mean, if you normally do family activities in matching outfits, then maybe? 😉 But my guess is you don't, so I really recommend not doing it for your photo session. The families I've posted on this page did an awesome job of coordinating rather than matching. Keep reading for some tips on how to coordinate.

Choose A color Scheme

You can simply start with a color that you like, or choose an item of clothing that you know you want to include. Maybe that's a top that mom feels great in, or a dress your daughter loves. Start there, and build. A good rule of thumb is to pick a neutral plus two other coordinating colors, and sprinkle throughout.

Choose your Main Pieces

Using the colors and inspiration piece you’ve chosen, select the pieces that each person will wear. Lay everything out on the bed and mix and match. Make sure all you feel great your choices. If you feel awesome in a dress, but self conscious in skinny jeans, then by all means go for the dress.

DefinItely think about Layers

I'm a huge fan of layers. Jackets, sweaters, and vests break things up and add interest.

DOn't Forget to Accessorize

Scarves, belts, necklaces, bracelets, etc., add interest and personality and are a great way to bring in the colors you chose. (Just don’t go overboard!)

Make Sure Your shoes are in Ship Shape

Shoes shouldn't be scuffed or worn. I know white sneakers are kind of a trend among teens and I know boys love them in general, but I personally think they draw the eye downwards and aren't the best for photos. That said, if you get pushback, it's probably beset to let teens be teens.

CHeck for Fit and Make sure clothes are pressed

Clothes should fit well and be neatly pressed (I've actually had to charge extra to remove really excessive wrinkles in Photoshop!). Please watch out for too-big shirts, especially on boys and men.

A bit about Color

Jewel tones are great and universally flattering, so consider them, especially in the Fall. Tamer colors, with a bright pop is fun, and adds interest. People often hear that they should stay away from black and white, but it's really a matter of personal taste, and skin tone. You don't want black to drag you down, and you don't want white to wash you out. Both colors do well accessories or layers depending on the circumstance. One color that can be tricky is green if we are shooting in a park or natural setting because there is already a lot of green in the environment, so keep that in mind. A fail-safe tip is to pick a top that accentuates your eyes.

When coordinating family members try not to have two people in the exact same solid color top (i.e.; dad and brother in solid blue polos, or mom and daughter in solid white shirts), at least without the addition of an accessory like a scarf or vest that breaks it up. I often won't want those two people placed directly next to each other in a group photo because there is nothing to break it up.

Don't be afraid of patterns

People seem to think that patterns are a no go but that is not the case at all. Stripes, checks plaids, and florals are all totally OK and it's even ok to mix! You could totally do a small check on one person, a floral on another, solid on someone else and still add a plaid, if you break things up with layers like solid sweaters or jackets.

Hair & Make-up, etc.

  • Consider getting a blow-out to really treat yourself and your daughters if you have them. If you need to touch up your roots, take care of that before your session. A cut is best about a week or two before.
  • Keep makeup natural, but consider it having it professionally done. In the Andover area I recommend Melissa Perrault, a stylist at Salon Forza and a super talented Mac makeup artist. DM her on Instagram, or call her at 978.382.2501 for more information.
  • If you paint your nails, please make sure that chipped polish is removed, or your manicure is fresh.
  • Be careful with spray tans. Cameras can pick up more red and orange than the eye, and you may look more orange in your photos than you'd like! If you can't live without a spray tan, go lighter than you normally would, and/or schedule it for 2-3 days before the session. If you are trying to tan naturally, please wear sunblock - a sunburn will not photograph well. Lastly, watch out for tan lines, as excessive tan lines may result in additional charges for retouching.
  • Botox. Please schedule your injection for around two-three weeks prior, especially if you are trying it for the first time, to be sure redness has subsided and you don't need any touch-ups.
  • Drink lots of water in the days leading up to your session and be sure to get plenty of sleep so that you ar well rested and hydrated.

Worried about your figure?

This is something I 100% relate to (the pictures below are of me and my family), but getting your pictures taken is so important! I feel like I'm never the size I want to be for photos. Good for you for not putting it off. First of all remember that no one sees or cares about the flaws that you see in yourself. But there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Define your waist rather than hide behind baggy clothes. Belts are perfect, as are peplum tops, and structured jackets.
  • V, Scoop, and Boat necks elongate your neck, and long necklaces that hang almost to your waist have a slimming effect.
  • A dress can be more flattering than trousers or jeans. Look for an a-line or fit & flare.
  • Heels elongate legs, and if you go for a pair in a skin tone, even better.
  • Prints distract the eye, and are a great option to a solid.

Knowing how to "pose" (and I use the term loosely) is also important, and I'll guide you with that. Remember to stand up straight, shoulders back. I always say, "if it bends, bend it". You want your body to be in an "S" shape, rather than square to the camera, and I'll gently remind you of that as we go. You can practice in a mirror ahead of time too! Also, yes, I do have some Photoshop tricks, that I am willing to use sparingly. 😉

Photo credits for above photos: Left: Megan Jane Photography, Ashland, MA Right: Katie Donnelly Photography, Paris France.


Last But not least, Don't over think It

Honestly, your photos are about you and your family. If working out the perfect set of outfits feels overwhelming, then just go with the flow and don't make yourself crazy. It's not worth it. The last thing you want is to be stressed out about your photo session. The most important thing is to be yourselves, and have fun with it. If I can answer any questions, just get in touch! We can even do a zoom call ahed of time to look through your outfits if you are really stuck. I'm here to help!


Based in Andover and available

North and West of Boston.

LONDON - PARISBoston Family Photographer


LONDON - PARISBoston Family Photographer