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Please tell me...

for a gorgeous photo session!


Coordinate &





With every full session with CPP, full conceptual design of your dream shoot is included. From the very beginning with my visit to your home, to shopping for clothing, all the way to the vision you are looking for but can't quite put into words. I walk you through the full process from start to finish so that when we are done, the art that hangs on your walls is the crowning jewel to your interior design and the cornerstone of your room. It should make you feel something. The photograph should impart emotion and meaning, transcendent and palpable to every visitor, whether that is your own family members on a Tuesday night or your company who come to visit. Choosing clothing is a big part of the design of every session. Let me walk you through it.

Let me give you an example...

In one of my favorite photos I took of my children when they were very young (and I was young in my photography), my girls are wearing adorable hot pink sweaters that were so cute on them. I adored this photo! So much I got it printed on a canvas. (Well, you gotta admit, they are SO cute in this photo!) When I went to hang it on the wall I quickly realized the color of their clothing was dominating the entire room. YIKES. Finding a place for it in my home was such a challenge that I ended up not displaying the canvas at all, it didn't work... absolutely anywhere!


Don't let this happen to you.

To begin planning your shoot, and before you choose your clothing, the first thing you need to do is choose your mood. Yep, the mood! First, imagine a dream photo from your upcoming session hanging large on the wall in a favorite room of your house. How does it make you feel? Think of 3 words to describe those feelings. Think of words like earthy, natural, intimate, colorful, vibrant, soothing, relaxing, imagine anything! Close up moments or the epic view, whimsical, magical or stunning. Now, decide how you would like your art to rule that room. By dominating the eye?  Or by blending in softly? Or perhaps by accentuating and highlighting the rest of your decor as a cohesive fit in the space.

COLOR PALETTE. Plan your color palette based on what you would like to do with your photos, and where in your home you would like to display them. What is the use for these photos? Would you like a large traditional photo to hang over the mantle? Or this time do you want fun, fresh photos for your Christmas cards this year? It may seem strange to match your color palette to the room where you want to display your art, but this is the MOST important consideration! For example, would you like these photos to be earthy, soothing, natural, calming and timeless? Or fun, light hearted, bold, bright and energetic? 

In the example above, this conceptual photo accentuates the room by following the existing color palette of the space, while also adding a vibrant energy with the additional accent colors of red and gold, thus drawing the eye from the surrounding decor to this stunning artistic piece.


How would you describe how this art makes you feel?


I love the contrasting feelings of quiet and calm of the fog in the forest, combined with the high energy vibe in the bright colors. The colors are warm, yet it feels cool and crisp with all the anticipation and re-birth of autumn. For me, the mood this piece of art brings to the room could be described as elegance, vibrance and timelessness. It is a perfect fit because in this example, the room could also be described in the same ways with its eclectic mix of tradition and the brightness of modern style, making it the crowning effect in the decor of this room.

START WITH YOU. For family or group photos, in most cases the best place to start is with YOU. A woman that feels wonderful about herself, and is in love with what she's wearing is the single best tip I can give you to prepare for a fantastic session. (And if you aren't a woman, may I kindly recommend you start with her?) Pick a color palette that accentuates the room or use you have for the photos AND that also looks fantastic on you! Plan to have your hair recently cut or styled, your nails done, (or both!?) or whatever it is that makes you feel fabulous! I haven't met you, but my guess is, feeling great looks great on you!



After choosing your/mom's/her outfit, chose one person in your group to wear the "center stage" patterned piece from which all other pieces are pulled from. (This may in fact be yours/mom's hers* but if not this should be your next selection.) After choosing this patterned piece, keep everyone else's clothing in the group simple and clean. You can use additional patterns as well, the key is to keep them subtle! For example, tiny flowered prints or polka dots will not distract from the photo but will add texture instead. Awesome! *Tip - This piece most often is ladies or girls clothing.


Use that one patterned piece of clothing to pull the complimentary colors from. Similar to planning the decor of a room choose your three categories:


1) Tonal ranges of your one main color, such as plum with lavender. From person to person, try to vary the shade of the color.

2) a contrasting color to "pop" or accentuate choice #1, usually on the opposite side of the color wheel (such as yellow with purples or coral with teals).

3) A neutral palette family for pants/shoes/belts, such as browns or grays. Avoid white and black!!

The amount of each of these groups you choose can dramatically change the overall cumulative effect in your group photos and help to keep the overall feeling of your photos in line with the larger vision of your session.

For example, if you want bright energetic photos choose a brighter main color, then add plenty of your contrasting color throughout to make your photos really pop! For more timeless, natural photos, choose a more earthy main color and use more of your neutrals and use just a few smaller dabs of your accent color. 

For larger pops of color, scarves and bright shoes really stand out, while for less contrast accent with smaller pieces like earrings and bracelets. 

This couple chose to dress up for their pictures in town. I love the bright pop of blue, she really stands out! For the more casual part of the shoot at the college where they met, a more casual look to show off their school pride!



Consider the location of your shoot when choosing clothing. If your session will be in a field wear more relaxed natural clothing. If your shoot is downtown or in an edgy urban area you may want to select sharp, classy attire with deeper or brighter tones. For a shoot in a horse barn it would be natural to wear more casual clothing than you would wear if shooting downtown.

When you think of your location also think of the colors of the surroundings. If you will be in a field of flowers, remember the colors of those particular flowers will be a dominant feature of your photos. If in an apple orchard, make sure your palette is complimentary with reds and greens. Beach photos look best with soft color families. Photos in winter may have muted greens and tans in much of the setting and really set off deep, earthy jewel tones, while new chartreusse spring leaves and grass can be well balanced with bright, bold and more saturated color. Whites, blush and pale creams look beautiful in snow as do the lightest, palest versions of all colors.

Pale, soft pastel colors are beautiful for beach photos! These photos also show how accessories and props like hats, pearls and teddy bears help to loosen up the little ones and bring out their natural playfulness.

More tips!

  • Whenever possible, go barefoot. Spoil yourself and have those "toes did"!

  • Texture, texture, texture. Add lots of textured fabrics like lace, tweed, woven sweaters, crochet, smocking and ruffles.

  • Look for timeless pieces, avoid trendy styles.

  • Pick comfy clothes! Choose pieces you are comfortable in whether sitting or standing. Use layers to subtly hide your "self-conscious spots" like scarves and layered sweaters. 

  • Too dressy is better than too casual!

  • Chose clothing with lots of movement, especially for little girls. One thing is for sure, we will let her spin & twirl that dress! 

  • Splurge on clothing, shop carefully. This is one time I promise you won't regret it.

  • A few well chosen accessories add personality & interest. Add some!

  • Add accents to the guys with bow ties or colored shoes, show off those  personalities!

  • Layers are great! Adding/removing layers can provide different looks. If it's cold outside use layers that will also keep you warm.

  • Bring a matching blanket or quilt! So beautiful whether draped on shoulders or to use for snuggling on the ground.

  • Family heirlooms add that special touch. Jewelry, quilts, scarves, a book of poems can be a subtle tribute to loved ones lost and another way to add that special touch. Even a family album or photo.

  • Sentimental objects that represent meaning for your family are great ways to personalize your photos. Bring them along, we may use them! Is Dad a pilot? Bring a toy airplane for your son. Got musicians in your family? Bring your guitar. Is mom a big reader? Bring a special childhood book for the kids. Your child's favorite stuffed animal can be immortalized this way, a treasured blankie. Props can help shy little ones feel comfortable in front of the camera.


COLOR WEIGHT. Try to keep everyone in the photo an equal "color weight" or saturation. Any color that is much darker or much lighter than all the rest by many shades will draw the eye in the final photo. Look for balance in the saturation levels of the color tones. While it is great to vary the shades of color try to keep most colors in the general saturation range. For example, powder blue and navy are two extremes of blue. Try to pick two blue shades closer together in tonality.

WHITE OR BLACK. Avoid these at all costs! Large areas of black or white (such as a shirt) dominate the eye in any photo because they are extremes. Nothing is darker than black so the eye will go there right away. White is often a blinding force in a portrait, and the eye flies to the brightest part of the image.

ALL 3 COLORS ON EVERY PERSON. Everyone in your group does not need to have on your main color, your neutral color AND the accent/pop color. As a matter of fact, avoid doing that.

LOGOS & WORDS. You don't want words on clothing, large clothing logos, characters or branding. Trust me on this one.

LARGE ACCESSORIES. Avoid large bows or oversized jewelry in general. Remember, your faces are the star of the show and what we want to draw the eye to.

SHOES MATTER! Pay careful attention to everyone's shoes. Avoid everyday sneakers at all costs, even for the guys! Don't overlook the impact shoes have on your photos, use them to add more style! Colorful Converse, spunky boots, ballet flats, rain boots and pumps with bling are all great ways to add personality. (Just make sure they are shoot location appropriate.) Also avoid those bright white socks!

OLD CHIPPED NAIL POLISH. Oh my, need I elaborate? Make sure your polish is complimentary in a sparkly shade of... fresh!

#1 Tip to remember:

Of all of these things to think about when choosing your clothing,

let this one be most important. Let the clothing you choose 

be a reflection of your true  personality,

and all that you want  to project, all that you want to be seen .

These are your memories.

And these are memories of you.

This is how the future will remember you.

So paint a beautiful picture.

I am here anytime to help guide you through this process. I know all too well how difficult it can sometimes be to decide! Shoot me your pictures of outfits you're considering, I am more than happy to help!

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