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For the Ladies: How to Look Fantastic in Your Photos

“What should I wear for our session?”  I get asked this question so much!  I have a Pinterest board of suggestions, but when it comes down to it, I always suggest you wear what is comfortable and makes you feel beautiful.  But it’s about time I write something more specific regarding this topic because let’s face it, it’s one of the top questions I get asked!

LADIES, LISTEN UP!  This is how I chose my outfit to highlight my assets and downplay my insecurities during our family photo session.  The number one way to rock your session is to drop your insecurities and have a great time.  If you don’t have insecurities, then there’s no need to read any further– just go rock your session!  But if you’re like me, then keep on reading.

Photo Credit: Meghan Ippoliti Photography

Yes, I’m talking to the ladies because we’re typically the most insecure.  And because I am a lady, so I know a few things about this subject.  If the guys want a post, let me know and I’ll have Josh write from a male perspective!

The first thing I did was figure out what on earth I really wanted.  I wanted to look good and feel good and not have to lose 30 lbs or suck in the whole session in order to be pretty.  It sounds whack, but I’d say a lot ladies have been there and felt that way.  And I think we all know that losing 30 lbs doesn’t make us pretty, but being confident and well put together really makes us shine!

What are my assets?  I love my hair, my smile, and when I wear big earrings.  I love the way tall boots make my legs look.
What are my insecurities?  My arms, my tummy/belt line, and my legs.  My goal was to look normal and not like I was trying to hide everything.  I once had a client who wore all black to her family session because she wanted to hide everything.  Honestly, I didn’t even think about it because I thought she was pretty but when she saw the pictures, she wished that she hadn’t worn all black because she felt it looked like she was just trying to hide, and that’s not the example she wanted to set for her daughters.  That has stuck with me for years.  It’s not about hiding our bodies– it’s about making us comfortable in our own skin and knowing our true beauty regardless of size.

Everyone suggested I start with my daughters outfit, and then chose our outfits based on hers.  Ummmm… call me self-centered, but we’re starting with my outfit.  My two year old looks cute in everything. I have a limited supply of things that I feel comfortable in, so I get first pick! I’m sure that’ll change as she gets older and pickier herself.

So here’s how I went about choosing my outfit:

I’m self conscious about my arms.  Three quarter length sleeves make me feel the most comfortable, so that’s what I went with.  I also wanted something that wasn’t low cut so I didn’t have to worry about tugging at my shirt the whole time.

I hate when you can see my belt line through my shirt.  Weird, right?  It’s not the end of the world, but it irks me, so I went with a plaid shirt that draws attention away from that.  It also helped distract from my arms.  Plaid and stripes are iffy in photography because cameras don’t handle tiny designs well, so I made sure the plaid was a wide pattern. 

I chose dark skinny jeans and boots because, again, that’s what makes me the most comfortable with myself.

I even bought some jewelry!  Some big earrings to draw attention to my face & hair.  The session date also happened to fall on the same day I had a hair appointment– score!! I definitely recommend this!  My hair looked amazing and gave me a huge confidence boost.  I thought about having someone else do my makeup, but really didn’t have the time or money so I looked up some YouTube videos on makeup techniques, highlighting, and contouring.  I sent a test picture to a friend the night before and she said, “Don’t ever wash your face again!  That’s amazing!”  I chuckle about that every time I do my makeup now.  To be truthful, my makeup doesn’t look much different than it does every other day of the year, but it gave me more confidence, and that really reflected in the photos.

Now for the really crazy stuff.

I know… picking out the outfit was hellacious.  My insecurities are ridiculous!  But I’m going to bet that some others battle the same insecurities, so I figured sharing is caring.  Now we’re going to spend some quality time in front of a mirror.  If you like your smile and laugh, then skip the rest of this. This is for those people that have ever looked at a picture and thought, “But I was smiling in this!  I look bewildered/mad/confused/scared/etc!”  Sometimes the outside doesn’t quite convey what we feel on the inside.  Don’t go changing who you are for a photo session or you’ll be disappointed.  But if you’re like me, and you want your true self to shine through, and these next few steps really helped me out.

Smile.  Laugh.  Do you look like yourself?  Sometimes I change up my smile without realizing it.  It can make me look so goofy. I don’t mind it so much for a quick instagram picture, but for my family photos to hang on my walls for years to come?  I’d rather avoid that.

When I really started studying myself in the mirror I noticed a few things.  I started to feel the muscle memory of the smile that I really love.  The smile that feels the most ‘me.’   Sometimes I smile in a way that I think makes me look skinnier.  In reality, I look like I just sat on a thumbtack.  I have big cheeks and I have to embrace that!  No hiding them, just loving them and making them look their best– with a big smile.  If I smile with my lips closed, it looks forced.  Everyone has a different smile so don’t feel like you have to look like someone else with this– it’s about finding your own true smile!

In my self-absorbed mirror time, I also noticed that one of my eyes is bigger than the other.  It’s not super noticeable until I turn my head a certain way.  I’d seen it before but never really looked at myself long enough to figure out which eye was bigger.  If the smaller eye is closer to the camera then they look the same size.  If the smaller eye is farther from the camera, then the size difference is accentuated.  And my glasses are kind of crooked.  I hate glasses so much.  I wish I could wear contacts all the time.  So for my session I went without them!  I wasn’t focused on whether they were crooked or not, and it was so nice to not have them plastered to my face.  I also was reminded that I have terrible posture.  It’s better than it used to be, but I slouch so much!  I even practiced a few poses so I could see what I thought was flattering.

Yes, that’s really super weird.  And I put way too much thought into all that.  But you know what?  I like to be prepared, and it’s what makes me feel the most comfortable.  By the time the session rolled around, I was unbelievably confident!  It was like showing up for a test at school when you know you’re going to nail it.  And that allowed me to relax and just have fun at the session without having to suck in or tug at my shirt or constantly check a mirror.   I was comfortable and confident.  I even forgot my lipstick and didn’t care.  I felt beautiful!  And that feeling stuck around long after the session because I wasn’t just focused on having a great picture— I was focused on loving myself more.  And I think we could all use an extra dose of that!

  1. […] 3) Prepare yourself and your family.  You want to feel and look your best during a photo session, so a little preparation goes a long way.  Make sure to choose clothes that are comfortable and flattering.  Know how you’ll do your hair and make-up ahead of time so you’re not flustered the day of the session.  I talked about this in detail here. […]

  2. […] I wrote a whole lot more on this subject here! […]