Photoshoot Style Guide

By Cheryl Brown Photography

Style guide created by a professional photographer to help you have the best dressed photoshoot yet!

Hiring a professional to take your photos is an investment, and as a professional photographer I know that first hand - so I've created this style guide for you to help you make the best choices for your upcoming shoot!

Matching Outfits

Matching outfits can be super cute - or way too much if its not the right balance. Its always good to have similar patterns/colors, and mixing up who's wearing what. Having everyone in an orange plaid shirt for a fall family shoot, doesn't help your family members stand out, and often times makes the photo feel too busy. I recommend going with 2-3 colors, 1 pattern, and having everyone wear a different variation. For example - this family used red plaid, black, and jeans. It's just enough for those adorable matching photos, but not so much that it clutters up your pictures. It's also important to keep in mind what colors look best on all of the members of your family. For example, if you're doing an easter shoot, and colors are blue, yellow, and pink - but yellow isn't your sons color, try for a salmon colored shirt for him, but a yellow and light pink plaid for yourself. It's also important to stick to 1 pattern style, To quote Albert Einstein here " Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." Aaaaaand while that may be true - it still makes your photos look thrown together. While I do very much appreciate his invention of the automatic camera with an "electric eye" I just can't get down with his fashion advice!


It's important to think about patterns and textures that you'll be wearing to the photoshoot. Chevron, houndstooth, pinstripes, and other patterns of this nature make your photos look too busy and take away from your pictures. Don't get me wrong, not ALL patterns are bad - just the very busy ones are not ideal. Try sticking to less busy, or muted prints. It's also important to think about your shoot location when you're thinking about patterns, I wouldn't recommend wearing a floral dress to a shoot in a garden, but it would be great at the beach.


Textures can make for some serious depth and feelings into photos - and not just your clothing. Think about hair, too. a nice cable knit sweater, or a perfect braid, is the chefs kiss of photos.

Be Comfortable

No, this doesn't mean sweatpants and that old super soft t-shirt that was your husbands in college back in the 80's. it means be comfortable with your outfit. If you wear something that is out of your style and you feel awkward In it, if you're too cold, or too hot - all of that shows in your photos. It's important to dress up a little for photos, even if you don't usually do that - but pick an outfit or a style that you think you look good in, and are comfortable with. Maybe something you'd wear for a date night, or as a dinner guest at your boss's home. If you're uncomfortable in your body, it's important to pick a style that won't make you look at the photos and hate how you look. If you think you are larger, avoid horizontal stripes, very baggy shirts, and bright colors.

Dress for the elements

Like I said above - if you're too hot, or too cold - it's going to come through the camera. If you're doing a summer shoot, dress as cool as you can while still being comfortable and loving your outfit - stay in the car with the AC as long as you possibly can, make sure you are hydrated - and even bring a battery powered fan to use between shutter clicks! If you're doing a winter shoot - these tips are going to save your toes - and that Rudolph nose thats bound to happen. I always recommend to my clients to wrap up as much as possible - that means hand warmers in your pockets that you can throw your hands in while we re-arrange poses, that means have your coats and hats right behind me so if you need a little cold break you can get that for a few minutes. But also think about headgear because you don't want to mess up your perfectly curled hair - and bring a comb to fix your sons hat head! This photo was taken in December on the rocky coast of Maine - it was windy, and the temp was somewhere in the 20 degree range - this family kept their son wrapped up as much as possible as we walked to the shore, had snacks on hand, and both mom and dad were bundled to the core. Directly behind me was their pram and all of their winter gear. As you can tell, this looks like a stormy early fall day - not a below freezing day in December!

Coordination (and color) is key

It's so important to coordinate you outfits so that everything is cohesive. The last thing you want is to spend hours on your hair and makeup, put on a brand new dress and matching earrings, to find your fiancee insists on wearing his favorite neon green golf shirt. Think about colors that go together - the ocean and the sand, salt and pepper. I always recommend looking at a flower bouquet for color inspiration. (the same thought process for your shoot location as well - think a field at sunset, and pick colors that match well with that). It's also important to stray away from those bright bold colors that are hard to edit, and keep the focus on your shirt, and not that romantic kiss at sunset.

Best: Muted colors that blend well with each other and your shoot location. And not yellow (my personal hatred for editing what actually is my favorite color).

Remember your pockets

Most people don't think twice about getting out of their car and throwing their keys, wallet, and cellphone into their pockets. But these also can be seen in your pockets in your photos, and it's not something easily (or cheaply) edited out. I recommend bringing a small bag to hold these items and having it behind me or just off scene.