Thank you so much for booking your session with me. I’m thrilled to work with you! This Style Guide will help you in planning out the look and style for you and your family. In it, you’ll find tips and tricks when choosing your wardrobe, what to avoid wearing, and a list of great online stores for wardrobe ideas.

Choosing a Time and Date

I'm a natural light specialist because I believe that natural light, from the sun and its reflections, creates photographs that feel fresh, timeless and truest to you. I begin my outdoor portrait sessions within two hours before the scheduled sunset during “the golden hour,” when the light is the dreamiest. Remember, the sun sets much earlier during the colder months of the year and much later during the warmer months, so make sure to factor that in when choosing your portrait session date, especially if you’re taking off work or have evening plans afterward. To get the most out of your session, please plan a buffer when getting ready so you can arrive a few minutes early to your session and be ready to start on time. I’m only able to shoot when natural light is still in the sky, so we’ll want to take advantage of every minute we have together before the sun goes down. If you’re wearing two outfits, save your favorite one for the second half, and if you’re wearing one, arrive in that.

Choosing the Right Location

The location of your portrait session is up to you! Like you see throughout this guide, most of my clients choose to showcase the natural beauty of Minnesota. For most of my sessions, outdoor, open-air environments are always my first choice. I love shooting in wide-open natural spaces because the light is divine, especially during golden hour. There are great options all around the state, so even if you've never seen me photograph in a specific spot before, I'm always up for exploring a new spot together! 

This is the time to think outside the box! I encourage you to brainstorm unique locations that you might have special access to that most people don’t. For example, maybe you, or someone you know, can secure permission to a location that would otherwise be off-limits, like a beautiful private estate, country club or resort. Maybe it’s a family farm or upscale hotel. The sky is literally the limit! Spend a few minutes thinking about it and checking around. You’ll be surprised with what you come up with. Plus, if something seems out of reach, just remember: you never know until you ask! My clients have secured permission to some pretty amazing places in the past. I have some great go-to locations that we can always use too. Just let me know what kind of setting you love, and we will go from there!

Style Tips for Her: Because This is Your Moment

This is your chance to dress it up! Remember: There is no such thing as “too dressed up” when it comes to your portrait session, so don’t be afraid to have some fun! Remember to dress for your location. Make sure your wardrobe compliments your surroundings. For example, you wouldn’t want to wear a formal dress and high heels for a rustic, wooded location. If you’re going for a preppy look in a downtown location, consider a dress or flowy top paired with jeans and cute heels or wedges. If you’re in a field, light flowy maxi dresses add lots of movement to images and look soooo dreamy! If you’re planning a beach session, blues, tans, soft pinks and whites look fantastic with a coastal landscape. A tip though, if you’re having your photos taken in a grassy/wooded area, you may want to avoid wearing too much green…you want to stand out in your photos.

Most importantly, dress in something comfortable, and something you feel great wearing. If you don't like fitted clothing (super tight dresses or pieces that fit awkwardly) leave them at home. Personally, I try to steer clear of items that are fitted in the tummy area because it makes me self-conscious and I'm constantly wondering if it looks bad. Additionally, we will most likely be sitting on the ground, laying down, walking and doing things that could be difficult if your clothing is uncomfortable. When you’re comfortable, you’re more relaxed and confident, and that will shine through in your photos. 

Say Yes to the Dress

Dresses and skirts look most stunning because they really flatter every female body, especially on camera. Long, full-length, flowy dresses and skirts look amazing on camera because they bring extra movement to the photos. Especially when juxtaposed with nature, like the field, forest, plains or beach. Consider softer fabrics like chiffon or tulle which allow for beautiful movement in the images. 

When considering the length of your dresses or skirts, it’s also a good idea to consider whether or not there will be little ones in your photos. If you have smaller children, I’ll likely have you sitting or crouching on the ground to interact up-close with them. Cute, shorter cocktail-length dresses photograph beautifully, but if you have little ones in your photos, a floor-length dress or skirt, or perhaps a cute midi-skirt, will make moving around with your kids much easier, and look perfect on camera, too. 

If you’re an expecting mother, I recommend floor-length gowns or maxi dresses. These dresses create the best silhouettes to flatter your figure and really highlight your bump. A lot of expecting mothers love to incorporate floral headpieces as well.

Choosing Colors

When choosing colors for your outfits, I recommend selecting either lighter tones or jewel tones. Lighter tones will bring more attention to your faces and lets the eye focus on the way you feel about each other. Avoid bright neon colors and graphic tees. These types of clothing tend to distract the eye and drains the feeling from the photo. Jewel tones photograph beautifully, such as sapphire, emerald, or smoky quartz. The camera also loves shades of pink and blues, mixed with sophisticated neutrals like heather gray, cream, and leather browns. If wearing white, choose whites with texture such as lace, velvet, or layers. They add interest, depth and detail to an image. Pops of color can be added in your jewelry, scarves or in flowers. Try to keep solid blacks and reds to a minimum. They photograph very heavy and fight my light and bright photography style. Instead, opt for a soft, lighter color like pink, grey, charcoal or navy...creams, greys and tans are impossible to mess up, and will never go out of style. If you need help, please text me an image of your outfits and I can help you decide.

Flattering Your Features

In my experience, every woman, regardless of her shape has an area of her body that she’s self-conscious about, so recognizing what area that is in advance is key. Choosing flattering silhouettes and colors that complement your natural features is the best way to ensure you’ll love the way you look in your photos. 

Three-quarter length sleeves create an awesome slimming effect on all arms, so be on the lookout for an option with a longer length sleeve. You could also bring a cute jacket, blazer or cardigan along, too. Skinny straps or strapless dresses have the opposite effect on arms on camera, so I recommend avoiding those whenever possible if your goal is a set of slimmer-looking arms.

Heels elongate women’s legs, making them look fabulous. Closed-toed heels in particular look great on camera because they carry out the line of your leg all the way down to your toe. Always keep in mind the location your shooting in, and wear shoes you can move around in. Heels are great for an urban or country road location, but you may want to consider boots or sandals...or even go barefoot for the field or beach.

Add Layers

In the cold months, adding layers to your outfits always looks STUNNING in portraits! A sweater with a flannel underneath and a denim jacket paired with a statement necklace or scarf adds so much dimension to your images and makes for fun posing options. Even in warmer months, you can add these layers + dimension by wearing a tank top with a cute sheer cardigan or by throwing a light denim jacket over a dress.

Don't be afraid to play with different textures. Sometimes garments with sequins, furs and sparkles can be considered daring or "over the top" but, in portraits, they look FANTASTIC! Adding texture to your outfit makes a huge difference, and it prevents the images from looking dull. Combining textures that you may not normally use together, like sequins + cable knit sweaters or leather + fur make great combinations!

Make a Statement

Pairing an accessory or two with your outfit can really help bring some extra dimension to your images, and be a nice tie-in when you’re coordinating with a group. Big statement necklaces bring a lot of pop to the photos, while the smaller, delicate ones are not as noticeable on camera. 

Hats, belts, bracelets and earrings bring great visual interest, so choose one or two that don’t compete for attention. Fresh florals in your hair can be a really romantic touch for you or your girls as well. Skip sports watches and hair ties on the wrists. Keep in mind that small bracelets can sometimes photograph as a hair band.

Confidence. It’s always the best accessory.

Go Pro: Hair & Makeup

Professional hair and makeup is on the top of many of my clients’ checklists because it looks amazing on camera and removes the stress of getting ready on your own. This is the time to treat yourself! Whether it’s lash extensions or blown-out hair, professional hair and makeup will give you an extra boost of confidence in front of the camera, and it always photographs like a dream. If you’re working with a makeup artist, have her apply your makeup in natural light, if possible, so that it looks fresh and not too heavy. Plus, that’s the type of light I’ll be shooting in, so it’ll give you the best expectation of how it will translate on camera. Most of my clients feel like their professional makeup is “too much” at first, since it’s more than you would wear on a normal day, or that they're false lashes look too big, so if you feel that way at the beginning, don’t worry! Good makeup artists know how to get it all just right for the camera — and my clients love the final result.

If professional makeup is not in your budget, no worries. Just plan to wear your makeup slightly heavier than normal, including blush and lipstick/gloss that are at least slightly darker than your lip color. False eyelashes can add an extra touch to your photos too, and can be purchased for very affordable prices at CVS or any drugstore.

Skip the Spray Tan

Although it might seem counter-intuitive, I recommend that you do not get a spray tan before your session, even a few days prior, because it tends to photograph orange, even when it’s applied subtly and by a professional. Your actual skin tone will photograph the most beautifully and naturally.

Fashion Tips for Him: Because Suave and Snazzy Are Always in Style.

The Best Fit

Long, fitted pants and closed-toed shoes are the most sophisticated and masculine looks for men. They draw attention away from his legs and feet and place it where you want it: on his handsome face. So, for your session, it’s best to leave the shorts, sandals and ripped jeans at home, as well as any pants that are loose or baggy. Fitted dress pants or fitted denim jeans work best on camera. Specifically for men, button-down shirts and slim-fit jeans are always classic. I recommend collared shirts without undershirts. Dark wash, fitted jeans, or khakis keep you looking classy! Solid shades of gray or navy are a strong complement to most women’s outfits, whereas pinstripes or plaid patterns tend to distract the eye. I also recommend staying away from graphics and logos. 

Layered Looks

Next time you walk by a store like J. Crew, you’ll notice the male mannequins and models are always wearing several layers at once. Layers on men look great on camera, so even when it’s hot outside, trust us when we say that it’s worth an hour or two of discomfort for photos that will look great. Adding another layer will bring extra dimension and visual interest to your photos. Blazers, vests and jackets up the level of any look. If the temperature permits, you could even consider adding a v-neck sweater with a pop of color from a long-sleeved collared shirt underneath. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative with layers! Most importantly, dress in something comfortable, and something you feel great wearing. We will most likely be sitting on the ground, laying down, walking and doing things that could be difficult if your clothing is uncomfortable.

Mix It Up

Some of my guys love to mix a suit coat, blazer or sport coat with a different pant color or denim. It adds some extra visual interest, and breaks up the color tones. I'm a big fan of this fresh take on a timeless classic.

It’s All in the Details

Brown leather dress shoes compliment almost every look, whether you're wearing a full suit or a blazer and jeans. Ties, bowties, pocket squares, colored socks, belts, tie clips, suspenders, vests and watches are sharp complements to any outfit for men and boys alike.

Most Importantly

When choosing your outfit(s), the most important thing is to choose something you’re comfortable wearing, and feel confident in. If you don't like or ever wear dressier clothing (dress pants, blazers or ties) leave them at home. I want your photos to reflect who you are. When you’re comfortable, you’re more relaxed and confident, and that will shine through in your photos.

Prepping Your Family: Because They Won't Be Little Forever


It is recommended, that newborn pictures are taken in the first 5 to 14 days of life while they are still sleepy. Have your baby in a loose diaper for two hours prior to the shoot so they are used to being less clothed. Prior to my arrival, please give your baby a good feeding, so they're sleepy and satisfied. A plain white onesie, neutral or light pastel colored blankets and textured throws photograph well...minimal and simple is best. I do have a few items that I will bring with me, including neutral wraps and blankets. I will likely utilize the living room, nursery and / or master bedroom for some photos, depending upon the natural light. Before I arrive please open blinds to let as much natural light in as possible and remove as much clutter as you can so the focus point is on your beautiful family.

If siblings are joining the session, prepare them ahead of time by showing them my photograph from my website so I am a familiar face. You may want to give them a little snack before I arrive too, to keep their tummies happy.

Coordinating the Crew

As you’re coordinating your outfit with your family, keep in mind that your outfits will look the most cohesive on camera when the color palette and wardrobe pieces coordinate, but don’t actually “match.” In fact, we recommend that you avoid thinking about “matching,” and instead think about what “fits” together. This will create more visual interest, and allow each personality to shine through. Mixing patterns and textures is okay! Patterns can add visual interest and texture. Just be sure that either one person is in a pattern, with the rest of the subjects in more solid color pieces, or the patterns are subtle and complimentary.

How to Mix Colors

The goal for coordinating a family is to visually break up the colors and shades so that you’re not all wearing the same color on top and bottom. The more we can mix that up, the better. I encourage you to think about planning each outfit with “dominant colors” and “accent colors” in mind. A dominant color is the color that you see the most in an outfit, while an accent has a smaller piece of visual real estate. When you’re planning each family member’s outfit, if you can aim for each person to have a different dominant color, and then tie in and vary the accent colors, it’s going to look great all together. 

For example, if you’re wearing a blush dress, soft blue earrings and nude heels (blush being your dominant color), then he could wear a navy coat with a white button-down and gray pants, paired with brown leather shoes and maybe even a blush pocket square (making navy his dominant color). Your daughter could wear a soft blue top with a white tulle skirt (making a soft blue her dominant color) while your son wears light beige pants with navy suspenders and a white button down (making white his dominant color). Now each person has their own dominant color while still incorporating a few touches of the others that will pull all the looks together. This will break up the color visually and highlight each personality. Most of our moms choose their outfit first, and then build the rest of the family’s outfits based around that.

Remember, we recommend selecting those softer, lighter tones and avoiding those ultra-bright, bold colors. The camera loves shades of soft pink and muted blues, mixed with sophisticated light neutrals like heather gray, creams, leather brown and white. Feel free to vary the shades of the colors, too.That softer color palette fits beautifully into a natural environment, and can easily be paired in so many different ways.

Mixing Up the Pieces

If you have multiple children, don’t feel like you need to put them all in the same type of outfit. For example, one of your daughters could wear a dress and flats, while the other wears a skirt and boots. One of your sons could wear a bowtie, while the other one wears suspenders or a vest. Mixing up the wardrobe pieces will bring a great visual interest to the photos. 

Prepping Your Little Ones

Before your session, pack a bag with snacks, water and any small objects (like toys or lollipops) that might help me get their attention when it’s time for them to look at the camera. If they are old enough to understand you, it’s a good idea to prepare them for what’s to come before the session starts. Explain how much the photos mean to you so they know to be on their best behavior. A lot of families discuss and pick something fun in advance as a treat after the session if they’re good listeners, like an ice cream cone, for example. It also helps if their bellies are full and they’ve has some good rest beforehand. Once you prepare them physically and mentally, then feel free to give them (and you!) grace! They’re little, and we know that some days don’t always go as planned. I’ve seen it all and will make sure to get you great photos, regardless of their moods. My goal is to make this as fun and stress-free as it possibly can be for you and your family!

I have found the best way to photograph children is in their own timing and on their standards. If they want to run around for a bit, let them. If they want to dance, let them. If we work together, we can find fun ways to entertain them and catch their natural smiles when they are just having fun.

Try not to tell your child to smile, they will just pull that forced expression, which you know only too well and most certainly do not want hanging on your wall for all time. We will take some smiling poses as well as some quieter and more thoughtful ones, which are often most appealing. I want to capture their individual personalities, and have fun with them, while doing so.


If you wear glasses daily, please wear them for your photo session, but make sure they are clean. Keep in mind that glasses can produce glare and reflections covering the eyes—particularly blue light lenses and transition lenses, which is difficult or impossible to correct in editing. Anti-reflective coating helps to reduce the reflections but doesn’t mitigate it completely. If you wear transition lenses, they will photograph dark so you may want to consider wearing glasses without that feature or popping the lenses out and just wear the frames or even ask your optician to loan you a set of empty frames for the day of your session.

What's Next?

1-2 Days | Social media sneak peeks with one or two of my favorite photos. These are quick edit proofs. I will need the full three weeks to complete your gallery. I take pride in my editing style. I make sure my images are consistent and are color corrected, and only deliver the best of the best!

21 Days | Your online gallery with all of your final, retouched photos will be ready. I will email you the link to your gallery along with instructions for downloading.

One Final Note

I know I just gave you a lot to think about. I created this guide to help make your portrait session experience something you’ll look back fondly on for years and years to come. At the end of the day, though, the location you choose and the outfits you select won’t matter nearly as much as the memories you make. I want your portrait session to be a time for you to just be yourselves and enjoy it. Come ready to have fun. Laugh a lot. And I’ll take care of the rest!

Portrait Session Checklist

1. Schedule date, time and location with Stacy Lea Photography

2. Review guide for style tips 

3. Schedule hair, makeup and nail appointments 

4. Choose your outfits 

5. Pack a bag with: 

  • Flats or flip-flops for walking between photo spots 
  • Second outfit (if you’re doing two) 
  • Touch-up makeup (hairspray, mirror, brush, lipstick)
  • Water bottle (for warmer sessions) 
  • Snacks and/or toys for little ones
  • Coat or cover-up (for colder sessions)
  • Props (flowers, sonogram photos, a favorite stuffed toy, etc)
  • Payment in the form of cash or check

Feel free to email me with any questions at I can’t wait to see you soon!

~ Stacy :)