The most important thing you can do to prepare for a portrait session is to make sure you come relaxed and ready to have fun.  That being said, here are some tips you might consider prior to your portrait session:


Clothing Choices

  • Avoid bold patterns (stripes, plaids, etc).  These patterns will draw attention away from the faces in your portraits.  
  • Avoid bright or bold colors as these will also dominate the photographs. 
  • Darker colors are flattering to the face and slimming to the figure.
  • For outdoor portraits, earth tones will work well.  For formal portraits mid to deep tones are best.
  • Solid colors or very simple patterns look best and are less likely to distract from the faces in your portraits.
  • Wearing colors that match your eyes will help them stand out in a portrait (especially consider the colors in tops, scarves, or earrings and necklaces.


  • Avoid any clothing that does not fit properly.
  • Wear clothes you are comfortable in.  This will help you relax and create a truer representation of you. 
  • Simple is best.
  • Don't forget that your feet may be in the photograph.  Make sure that your shoes and socks match your outfit and are not distracting elements in the portrait.


  • Couples and groups should coordinate their clothing to be similar in both style and color tone.  Contrasting styles or colors create visual confusion, and bring some subjects forward while others fade.  
  • Coordinated clothing creates a sense of unity or togetherness within a group and allows the faces to be the focus of the photograph.

Makeup and Jewelry

  • Well done makeup can make a dramatic difference in a portrait.  I would be happy to recommend a professional hair and/or makeup artist for you to consider.
  • Avoid heavy makeup.  In almost all cases, makeup should look natural.
  • Jewelry should not distract from the face and generally should be kepis to a minimum.  Avoid shiny jewelry that will reflect light.  
  • You may want to bring a few essential items to have on hand during the session, if needed:  comb, brush, hairspray, hair clips, make-up, mirror, safety pins, etc.



  • Be clean shaven or have your facial hair neatly trimmed.
  • Do not have your hair cut less than one week before the portrait session. 
  • Avoid new styles; plan on a hairstyle that is comfortable to you. 


  • Plan the portrait for a time when you are comfortable with the length and style of your hair.
  • Avoid trying new styles just before a portrait.  Plan on a hairstyle that is comfortable to you. 
  • Generally, you should avoid overly fancy hair styles.  The portrait should be a good representation of how you usually look.  

Eye Glasses

If you wear glasses or contacts interchangeably, which to wear in your portrait is a matter of personal choice.  However if you regularly wear glasses you should plan on wearing them for the portrait.  If you see yourself in glasses every day, you may not like how you look in your portrait without them.  

(***Be aware that wearing glasses in portraits can cause a number of problems, such as reflections of light on the lenses, distracting lines (bifocals/trifocals), distortion of the eyes, and other such problems.  These issues can usually be addressed with proper posing and positioning of available lighting, but are sometimes unavoidable.)


  • Props can provide context to your portrait.  Consider bringing a few props that fit with your personality.
  • Examples include musical instruments, sports equipment, tools of your trade, umbrellas, etc.


When preparing for your photography session it is important to plan for your final photographic prints.  Will they be gifts or perhaps a holiday card?  Are these photographs for your home?  If so, where will you be displaying them?

Please think about planning your prints and discuss them with me at the beginning of your session.  If you share your plan for prints such as gifts, a large wall portrait, or holiday cards, I can help you maximize your session for the best results. 

Thank you for choosing Sarah Gonia Photography!