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The Styling Guide

Outfits play an important role in creating the overall vibe of your final images. Taking time in advance to intentionally choose well-fitting and nicely coordinated outfits, shoes, and accessories will allow you to be more confident and relaxed leading into your session. Confidence and a calm, present demeanor on the day of your session will set the stage for wonderful memories and stunning artwork to adorn your walls and shelves.  .

I have a few resources to help you find and coordinate outfits to save time and stress. Starting with this style guide, you will find tips on what to wear and what not to wear. Then, you will have access to my interactive styling resource, Style & Select. Lastly, during your pre-session consultation we will look over the ideas you have for styling and I can give further suggestions to ensure a cohesive look that will add to the artistry in the images. 

Style & Select will allow you to view hundreds of photo worthy tops, bottoms, dresses, and accessories pulled in from well known retailers to give clients, like you, an easier way to figure out what to wear. You simply choose your favorites and shop from your personalized style board email!


Some of my client closet items are located on the results page for you to select from as well. These are available only if you booked a JLP Full Experience (60+ minutes). If you found a piece you love online or there’s something you already have in your own closet, feel free to upload an image into the custom upload button so you can see how it coordinates with the rest of your selections.

Once you have selected your favorites, you can then email yourself the styling board and you will have links directly to the retailer for purchasing.  I will receive a copy of your results so that I can assist with any changes or offer advice.


Continue reading below for some of my tips on styling as well as instructions on how to further utilize Style & Select.

Photoshoot Styling 101:



For the ladies

  • Long flowy skirts or maxi dresses: The length and flowy material communicate movement and add dimension and drama to your images. Avoid mini skirts as we will be very active and frequently changing positions and constant adjustment of short, tight skirts will inhibit relaxed, candid imagery.

  • Hair and Makeup: Many clients like to have hair and makeup done professionally to add an extra wow factor though this is certainly not required. If you do your makeup yourself, I suggest adding a little extra compared to your everyday look, to accentuate your favorite facial features. If you don’t typically wear any make-up, I do suggest tinted moisturizer, lip gloss and mascara as these will go a long way to even your skin tone and bring out your natural beauty. For hair, I recommend limiting or even avoiding hairspray and gel to allow your hair to move naturally when you move. Loose curls or your typical hair style will photograph better than tight updos in natural, candid images.

  • Nails: Hands are often included in images as they play a vital role in depicting connection. It is important to remove any chipped fingernail polish. Please avoid bright, bold or neon nail polish as this will be distracting in images. Bare nails or soft neutral colors are best. 


For the guys:

Avoid cargo shorts and jean shorts. If your significant other is dressed up, pants will generally contribute to a more cohesive look than shorts, but occasionally chino-style, colored shorts can work nicely. Nice shorts are fine on little boys in warm weather. 

For newborns to 3 months:

Avoid bulky outfits and accessories. Suspenders, skirts or dresses tend to swallow up a tiny newborn and are very distracting in their photos. A fitted, solid colored, textured romper or jumpsuit or knotted gown works best.

For children in diapers:

Be sure the diaper edges are covered and don't stick out of the outfit. Elastic at thighs solves this problem. Plain onesies that lack elastic are not recommended. Pants, bloomers or tights are other great ways to fully cover the diaper.


For little girls that aren't yet walking or will be carried most of the session:

choose a bubble romper rather than skirts or dresses. Skirt material bunches up when they are held and is not appealing in photos. Layering with tights or knee-highs make this an option for any season.



Use layering and accessories to build dimension and interest. Jewelry, hats, suspenders, knee high socks and hair clips can add layers and help coordinate across multiple people.Using a cardigan or a crocheted, lace or other textured lightweight kimono or a lightweight scarf is a great way to add layers even in the hotter summer months. In winter months consider cardigans, vests, stylish jackets, scarves, or hats that can be worn in some of the photos and taken off in some photos to give variety in your images. Statement jewelry or hair accessories can also add a great pop of color or interest to a photo.


Multiple colors: Choose  a 3-4 colors color palette in the same tone family ie dusty earth tones, or more vibrant jewel tones and sprinkle in a few neutrals to avoid matching.


Outfits with movement: Picking outfits that can be flowy and show a lot of movement for the girls and ladies can create magical images. Stay away from stiff and tight fabrics. Flowy maxi dresses and skirts are great options.


Flattering fits: Accentuate what you love and don't hide your entire body. Baggier is not better as a too-loose fit will make you appear larger in images. Choose a size that fits properly (not too tight and not too loose) and a cut that flatters your favorite features. Shift dress can create unflattering illusions, instead, select a flowy wrap maxi that accentuates your curves without being too form fitting.


Textures and Soft Patterns: Use of textures such as velvet, lace, crochet, corduroy, eyelet, crepe, embroidery can also add visual interest. Throw in one or two soft/classic patterns such as florals and stripes, or plaid and small polka dots, ensuring the patterns are in coordinating colors. Avoid high contrast patterns as well as large prints: ie bold stripes, large florals, large polka dots etc are distracting and can create the illusion of unflattering distortions  to your shape in photos.. Avoid repeating two versions of a pattern: ie two different florals or two different plaids.


Colored pants: If you are going for an all neutral look, or lots of earth tones, blue denim jeans can throw off the overall look. Instead, use complimetary colored chinos such as olive, burgundy, khaki, grey, etc. 


Don't be afraid to show beautiful skin. If you love your legs or work hard on nicely toned arms, choose outfits that show off those features. If you love your children's soft skin, choose outfits that show that. If you want to style the whole family in an earthy way with lots of skin showing, let me know. I am happy to assist you in selecting outfits to fit this vibe. This works great for Summer creek or waterfall sessions. If you don't wish to flaunt your upper arms, consider a dress with sleeves or a kimono or cardigan as bare arms can be distracting if they are unflattering and are left uncovered.

Things to include:


Footwear matters in photos. Your shoes will be visible in many of the pictures. Please choose clean, stylish shoes (not athletic shoes, crocs or flip flops) for the whole family. Shoes will need to be comfortable as we will be walking a lot. 


One thing I’ve learned as a mom and photographer is that cold kids = unhappy kids. Please keep in mind that many western North Carolina locations can be chilly, especially at sunrise and sunset so be sure to bring nicely coordinated, stylish layers and outwear – especially if young children will be participating. Mountaintop locations are often windy and have been known to be especially chilly during golden hour, even in July. 

Accessories to add pizazz and variety:

-Earrings and other statement jewelry

-Accessories with texture or soft patterns: hats, scarves, headbands, suspenders, knee high socks and hair clips 

-Playful sunglasses for young children make a fun prop.

-Classy hats: fedora, boho, or wide brimmed hats, baby bonnets or hair pieces. Bring them along and we will use them in a few shots. 

-Please avoid: baseball caps, trucker hats, anything that doesn’t fit the style of the photoshoot.

Wear Photo Friendly Undergarments:

-Smooth, nude-colored or skin toned, bra and underwear.  Consider strapless if your straps are at risk of showing. Ensure undergarments cannot be seen through clothing unless the dress/top is boho style with the intention of showcasing a lace bra or bralette.

-Consider wearing a slip or shapewear if needed.

-If a little girl is wearing a dress, please also have her wear bloomers or fitted shorts in the same color as her dress (or black for dark colored dresses/white for light colored dresses).  She will be moving around, so having her underwear covered is important.  Ensure the bloomers don't show through the dress. Cable knit stockings or tights are great in the fall and winter.

-Sometimes clients choose to wear an undershirt or bandeau with low cut tops. That is fine, but please be sure the color does not contrast with your dress/top. If your dress is navy, wear a navy bandeau. If it is rust colored, wear a brown or rust bandeau. Avoid the temptation to bring in a contrasting coordinating color here as it will draw attention to the undershirt.


Shoes, outerwear

accessories &


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Things to AVOID:


Avoid Bright neon colors: Neon colors as well as bright red, bright orange and coral can be distracting and cause color casts on your skin. Instead opt for toned down versions: crimson, burgundy, rust or blush pink.


Avoid mis-matching color tones. For example, easter egg blue and deep olive are completely different tones from different tone families. Sticking with a variety of neutrals with or without the addition of deep, rich tones is your safest bet for colors that photograph well and complement my editing style. Please take note of the two color tone palettes “Jewel Tones” and “Dusty/Earth tones”  included in this guide. Selecting from ONE of these palettes and throwing in some neutrals will ensure your colors that pair well with my editing style. 


Avoid athletic sneakers: Dress the part from head to toe. If you have amazing outfits, but your child is wearing athletic tennis shoes with bright neon colors, it can throw off the entire look. Instead, choose nice casual shoes such as sperrys, boots, booties, or neutral colored sandal.

Avoid Logos and Screen printed attire: these can be distracting.

Babydoll dresses: Dresses that are very loose and no form to them can make you look larger than you are. Especially if bending over to pick up your kiddo.

Don't dress everyone in jeans or khakis: Change it up with different colors and styles of pants, avoid multiple people in denim or multiple people in khaki as this will give a very dated look. 

Avoid loud, high contrast patterns Instead, choose outfits with a variety of textures. If you do use patterns, please limit them to small print, subtle patterns (not large, bold patterns), limit to 1/4th of the articles of clothing, and avoid similar patterns such as two different stripes or plaids, two different florals or two different dots. Consider layering a solid+textured outer layer over a pattern.


Don't overly match: Coordinate instead. Choosing several colors instead of only two will allow you to tie in more variety.

Avoid a lot of black: The photo looses depth if everyone is wearing  black. Also, with my darker editing style, black will not pop in images like a color or neutral will. Instead of black, choose other neutrals  such as off-whites, tans, greys, browns  or ivories to break up the black.


Avoid super bright white: Choose ivory or bone white instead.  An ultra bright white shirt will stick out like a sore thumb amidst a natural setting during golden hour, and it will create a distraction in your final image.

Same patterns: Don't mix the same patterns twice. i.e. all boys in plaids. All girls in Floral.  Instead, mix a pattern with a different pattern (soft stripes--not bold or large and small florals--not large or Hawaiian print).

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Style & Select : Step by Step

  1. After reviewing this guide, click the Style & Select link on the last page and follow the prompts on the screen. When selecting  color combinations, keep in mind the colors that will be present in your session setting. It's best to choose colors that complement one another and coordinate with your home decor. I suggest neutrals and deep, rich tones rather than bright or pastel tones. Please avoid all neon colors. They will reflect on your skin. I have included color palette suggestions specific to your setting in the email where you found the link to this guide.                                                                                                                                  

  2. For each person being photographed, various options in your selected style and colors will show up on the screen. Click the heart icon to add your favorite articles and accessories to your style board. Then style the next person by clicking "Person 2" at the top of the screen. Continue until you've selected options for each person.

-If you need extra guidance you can click the '?" icon at the bottom of the page

-The shopping cart icon takes you to the retailers site to make sure the size you need is still available

-The heart icon under each item is used to select your favorites. Once favorited, the item will display on the Style Board. You can remove and replace items as you go through the styling process.

-You can view other options with the 'edit questionnaire' button to change the color combination or style vibe. Your Style Board will remain with your selections.

*If you wish to borrow from my client closet, those items are located at the bottom of the results page. - Applicable for full (60+ minutes) sessions only.

3.    Once you've made all of your selections and you’re happy with all of the outfits, click the "send selected       items" button in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Enter your name and email address to send. We will both receive a copy of your selections. Then, open the email and click each item and you'll be directed to the link to purchase.  If you've selected an item labeled "Client Closet", it's very important that you contact me asap to confirm fit and availability.

*Style & Select is updated daily, and sold out items are deleted weekly, so there is no guarantee that your favorited items will be available in days to come. It is best to style and purchase any items you love on the same day. Be sure to check the retailer's return policy as these vary from site to site. 


Final Points + Styling Link

Ensure client closet pieces are available:

If you have selected a client closet piece – applicable only to “JLP Full Experience (60+ min),” it is imperative that you inform the photographer immediately to ensure that the piece will fit and that it will be clean and ready for use.

Most client closet ladies' pieces fit a variety of sizes. Photographer will ask for specific measurements to ensure fit.

One week before session, email photos of outfits

*Very Important* Please send a photo of all outfits to photographer at least 1 week before session. The earlier the better. Photographer will use this in planning shots for your session.

Before the session, review the pre-session checklist

This will be delivered via email and will serve as a guide as your prepare for your session!

Here’s your link to Style & Select! 



Your styling code is: your last name + the year of your session (ie Smith2023)

When you arrive at the landing page, you can watch the intro video or simply press "next" to start styling!


*Please don't share this code as it is intended solely for your session.


This is a great time to start searching for outfits! If you still have plenty of time before your session, I suggest looking around and coming up with a few style boards and we can finalize decisions as we plan your experience during your pre-session consultation! If you have ANY questions at all between now and then, please don't hesitate to reach out!


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