Whether you are prepping for a professional headshot, your wedding or simply getting your family ready for the Holiday card photo, here are a few helpful tips on how to look picture perfect for your next professional portrait session. When you arrive prepared for a photo shoot you will not only look amazing, but you will feel amazing!



A well put together outfit will enhance the way you look and feel in your photos. The wrong outfit can absolutely ruin a really great photo and I’m sure you’ve seen it before. When you are picking out what to wear to your portrait session, keep in mind that YOU are the focus of the portraits and you want your outfit to compliment YOU. Choose an outfit that is comfortable, flattering and shows who you are. Think about the location and purpose of the portraits… if it’s a corporate headshot dress professionally, if it’s a family session at the beach then feel free to roll up your pants and run barefoot!

If your portraits include more than one person try to coordinate your outfits so you look like a group that compliments one another. It doesn’t mean that everyone needs to match exactly, but try to stick to the same style, in similar tones or color family. For example, if your whole group is wearing cool tones in the portraits (blues, teals and aquas), and you decide to wear a red shirt. Guess what? You are going to stick out like a sore thumb! Or if you are wearing green and your photo session is located in front of a painted green house, or in a forest park, then you will probably blend in with the background. Here are some of my suggestions:

  • Stick with neutral solids in subtle colors. Avoid pure black, stark white, and loud prints
  • Choose a comfortable fitting outfit, not too loose or bulky and nothing too short or tight
  • Keep jewelry and accessories simple and minimal
  • Iron your outfit before your shoot. Avoid wearing anything stained, torn or wrinkled
  • Consider the location and season for outdoor portraits and dress appropriately
  • Choose a top that has sleeves (long or 3/4 length)
  • GENTLEMEN: I recommend nice slacks or dark jeans, dark shoes, dark socks
  • LADIES: I recommend nice slacks, jeans or dresses and skirts.



Unless you are having your hair professionally done for your wedding, many of us don’t know how our hair will look the best in photos. I would suggest to plan ahead. If you need your hair cut, colored, or trimmed, plan a visit to your stylist one or two weeks before your portrait session. There are many steps you can take to make sure your hair looks great in your photos. Arrive to your portrait session prepared with a brush, a hand-held mirror, some hairspray or other anti-frizz products to check your hair throughout your portrait session. For outdoor shoots, the wind can be your hair’s worst enemy. So, by keeping a brush and mirror handy you can be confident that every shot will look great!

Style your hair the way that you think looks and feels the best for you. Your hair should not be a distraction in your portraits so keep it simple. This is especially helpful for Brides who spend all morning constructing a beautiful, complicated up-do masterpiece and as soon as they step outside, the wind completely destroys their hairdo long before it’s time for those intimate newlywed close-ups.

Gentleman, this is important for you to know as well. You should prepare your hair equally as much for your portrait session. Plan ahead, bring a comb, mirror and hair products to help tame those pesky fly-aways or curls that won’t stay in place. Get a haircut two weeks before your session so your hair has time to grow back just enough to where it looks comfortable. Also- don’t forget about grooming your facial hair. Trim, shave, and clean up the edges to where your beard and mustache look confident, intentional, and tidy.



We have all been there… you wake up on the morning of an important day and you have a giant zit on your face! Well, not to worry! There are lots of ways to help cover up those awful blemishes and it’s simple. Do your makeup for your portraits. This goes for ladies, gents and in some instances for kiddos too. By applying a little makeup to cover up these blemishes, you will feel more confident while taking your picture and it will make a big difference.

The phrase “out of sigh, out of mind” is very true in this case. While you are having your photo taken, you really don’t want to be thinking about a zit on your face, do you? So, cover it up. Plus, by taking the steps ahead of time to even out your skin tone with a little makeup, this will also help in the amount of time your photographer spends on editing your photos, ultimately giving you a more natural look. Yes, Photoshop can zap those awful zits and make them disappear. But, you should try to take steps to make this processes easier to help make your final images look picture perfect.
Don’t go overboard with the make up either. Find a happy medium. Again, your makeup should not be a distraction, it should only enhance the beauty that you already have and give you a little extra boost of confidence when you are in front of the camera.



Every photographer is a little different when it comes to posing. There are a number of things that I take into consideration when posing my clients which will give you a good idea on what to expect for your next portrait session. I think about the location and purpose of the photo, I also think about your posture, lighting and camera angles to make you look and feel great! Here are some of my favorite posing tips:

  • If it can bend, then bend it. This goes for arms, elbows, knees, hips… we don’t want you to look stiff and uncomfortable. We want you to look natural and relaxed. It is much more flattering to bend an elbow instead of hanging an arm flat up against your side. If you don’t know what to do with your arms, try to hook your thumb in your pocket or belt loop, cross your arms, hug your family member. Many times the things we do naturally will look most natural on camera.
  • Your posture is important, and one you might not think of it immediately. When standing, distribute your weight to your back leg, allowing the leg closest to the camera to bend naturally, and point your hip away from the camera. If you try to sit up straight or stand up straight and relax your shoulders, you will appear taller, slimmer, and more confident.
  • Now let’s talk about my favorite posing trick! I like to call it the “Chicken Neck”. All you need to do it pull your chin forward toward the camera like a chicken! It feels really funny, but it will help separate your chin from your chest and it will elongate your jaw line. The result is very flattering on everyone!



There’s nothing is worse than when your little ones have a melt down right in the middle of your session. No worries! Your portrait session WILL be fun for them and I’ve got lots of tips to help get them ready, look great and have fun! Keep in mind, children love to move… a lot! And, we want them to move! It brings out their personalities in their photos so it’s okay if they hop like a frog, or jump high like a kangaroo, if we turn it into a game, then they will forget that they are getting their photo taken. Since kiddos are always on the go, their outfits and hair should work with them, not against them. Here are some helpful tips from one parent to another:

  • Bring extra toys and snacks so the little ones don’t get bored. For infants and toddlers, bring a noise making toy to get their attention
  • Simple, clean and ironed outfits… nothing overstated or distracting. Keep them comfortable and bring extra outfits just in case one gets messy.
  • Make sure kiddos are well fed and well rested before the session to bring out the giggles and smiles
  • For older kids and teens, let them choose one outfit on their own, whatever they want! The rest you can choose, but if they can choose one, they will be more excited about participating
  • Prep hair and/or makeup before the session. This will get them ready ahead of time and we won’t feel scrambled to do this before picture time.


Now that you know how to look picture perfect for portraits, are you ready to book your session? Contact me now to set up your portrait session.

lilacarstenphotography@gmail.com   |   503.462.5150   |   www.lilacarstenphotography.com