What to wear to your Outdoor Portrait Session

There are many approaches to dressing for your portrait session and I generally take a casual approach to suit the location and activity.  I want to open up some new ideas, concepts and general rules of thumb to help you choose what to wear and look your best in for your next outdoor portrait session. 

  • Confident yet Comfortable

  • Suits the Activity and Location

  • Complimentary, Not Matching

  • Avoid Logos and Text

You want to look your best for your photoshoot session but you also want to be comfortable in what you are wearing because if you feel uncomfortable, you will most like look uncomfortable.  Dress for the occasion, activity or location; a tight dress and heels isn't going to work for a day at the beach, but would be perfect for an urban setting.


Think about how the colours and styles will look in your home


Think about the location and the activity and what you would normally wear, then step it up just a little with some attention to detail and coordination.  

Take for instance a photoshoot at the beach wearing shorts and t-shirts with thongs or sandshoes.  Now pick three bright colours and  a base colour that work well together.  Mix them up between shorts, shirts and accessories so not everyone is wearing the exact same thing but there is still connection.

If that's too much colour, perhaps you could choose one colour that everyone would wear, whether it be pants, a shirt, a head band, or a scarf.  I believe there should be something in common, but not the same item, to connect everyone in the image.

Pay attention to the details by making sure your clothes are clean and lint free, shirts have been ironed and don't have large creases, buttons and zips are intact, bra straps are hidden, and tags have been removed.

I always recommend that you avoid large logos, text and images where possible because they can date an image and be very distracting to the viewer.

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Amara & Johnathan: Shorncliffe Pier Engagement Session

Wide environmental portrait of Engaged couple standing against white handrails at the end of Shorncliffe Pier with blue sky and clouds behind

Amara and Johnathan have known each other for a long time, since they were kids but was not until later in life that they reconnected.  We met up at Shorncliffe Pier for a late afternoon photo shoot taking advantage of the warm golden light.  There are so many spots along the pier and around the walkways to stop and set up a shot.  I love the simplicity and the colours of the image above.    

Close up of engaged couple holding hands showing engagement ring as they walk along Shornciffe Pier in golden afternoon sunlight
Close up portrait of guy standing on shorncliffe pier with his fiance standing looking towards him during afternoon engagement photo shoot
Portrait of engaged couple casually standing against white handrails on Shorncliffe Pier with warm golden sky behind
Portrait of engaged couple looking at each other standing against white handrail on shorncliffe pier during late afternoon sunset engagement photo shoot
Close up portrait of girl standing on shorncliffe pier with her fiance standing looking towards her during afternoon engagement photo shoot
Standing portrait with dark green background near Shorncliffe Pier during late afternoon engagement photo shoot

Jannika & Matt: Woodford Engagement Portraits

Close up Portrait of newly engaged couple Jannika and Matt against dark green background in the main street of woodford

After speaking with Matt at length in the lead up to the shoot I knew I had the perfect spot for their engagement photos, a location I had only just discovered recently when passing through.  Matt had mentioned that they love old, rustic and vintage styles; Matt had actually proposed while they were at Old Petrie Town. 

Jannika, Matt and I met up in the main street of Woodford late one afternoon in a quiet little side street lined with rustic sheds, timbers fences and tress with dappled light.  Both of them were super excited when they first saw the background I had chosen and I was having a blast finding pockets of light and framing Janikka and Matt in the doorways of the old sheds. 

Not long after the photo shoot we all met up again for the reveal of the images where Jannika and Matt chose a few of their favourites to use in their engagement party invites.

Thank you again Jannika and Matt for the great afternoon, and I wish you all the best in your future together. 

Full length portrait of newly engaged couple Jannika and Matt standing in front of rustic tin wall in the town of Woodford
Urban rustic Portrait of newly engaged couple Jannika and Matt in the warm afternoon sunlight standing against rusted tin wall near the main street of woodford.
Urban Rustic Portrait of newly engaged couple Jannika and Matt in front of a green tin wall near the main street of woodford
Portrait of newly engaged couple Jannika and Matt standing in Woodford
Country rustic Portrait of newly engaged couple Jannika and Matt leaning against the stock yard fence in woodford
Full length Portrait of newly engaged couple Jannika and Matt walking along the street in Woodford

Casey & Gary: Mt Cootha Botanical Gardens

close up portrait of newly engaged couple, Casey and Gary, at Mt Cootha Botanical Gardens dancing in among the bamboo trees.

Before meeting Casey and Gary at the Mt Cootha Botanical Gardens I had a few images in mind and headed into the shoot with a plan, hit up the Conifer garden first with the flowing pathways, and then head to the Japanese garden; I didn't think I would find my favourite image among the bamboo trees at the end of the shoot.

Wide portrait of Casey and Gary standing on a windy path in the middle of the conifer garden at Mt Cootha Botanical Gardens for their engagement photo session

I chose the gardens as our meeting place as Casey had mentioned that they wanted to get married in the rain forests at Mt Tamborine, I figured this would give them some nice images to compliment the style of their wedding location.  

Casey and Gary standing on the rocky pathway in the middle of the Japanese Garden at Mt Cootha Botanical gardens during their engagement photo shoot

The Mt Cootha Botanical Gardens offer a huge range of background from dense rainforest, urban art installations and open parkland.  We had a lot of fun together as the three of us walked around and shot in as many locations around the gardens as possible.

Close up portrait of newly engaged couple, Casey and Gary, enjoying the Botanical Garden at Mt Cootha
Newly engaged couple, Casey and Gary, enjoying a walk over the foot bridge at Mt Cootha Botanical Gardens during their photo shoot.
Casey and Gary sitting on a rocky step in among the dense rainforest of Mt Cootha Botanical gardens during their engagement photo session
Portrait of newly engaged couple Casey and Gary standing in front of an urban art installation at Mt Cootha Botanical Gardens

Thank you again Casey and Gary for the awesome afternoon, congratulations again on your engagement and I wish you all the best in your new future together!

Portraits in Urban Locations

Having your family or engagement photos taken in an outdoor location requires a lot more planning than showing up for a photoshoot in a studio but you don’t have to worry because I’m here to guide you through choosing the best times for your favourite locations.

  • Bright and Vibrant, Dark and Moody, Gritty

  • Greys, Browns, Blacks, Whites, and Bold Colours

  • Be bold with patterns or colours

  • Any time of day and night

It's quite surprising what you can find close to home.  I find urban locations to be quite intimate places featuring rough walls and textures.  It's hard to beat the Powerhouse at Newstead but if you look closely, hidden gems can be found close to home.

Urban areas are often quite drab with shades of greys and browns, sometimes covered in graffiti or overgrown greenery, or you may find walls covered in bright solid colours.  Bright and bold clothing, both in colour and pattern, lend themselves well to Urban backgrounds.

These locations are typically shaded and dark but you can find the off open area that will get some rays, however most of the time will be in soft light or artificial light such as flashes.

A variety or moods can be created within an urban setting such as light and bright, warm and intimate, cool, dark and grungy.  You should be able to shoot at anytime of the day or night but it depends on how you want your image to look and feel, and also what best suits your desired urban hang out.

Portraits in Beach & Coastal Locations

Having your family or engagement photos taken in an outdoor location requires a lot more planning than showing up for a photoshoot in a studio but you don’t have to worry because I’m here to guide you through choosing the best times for your favourite locations.

  • Bright and Vibrant

  • Whites, Beige, Greens, Aqua, and Blues

  • Go for light, bright, solid colours

  • Mornings or Afternoons

Beaches and Coastal locations differ greatly from Brisbane through to Redcliffe, Bribie Island and the Sunshine Coast.  If you are looking for just nice sandy beaches without people try Red Beach on the southern tip of Bribie Island, which is well suited for late afternoon walks along white sands and into driftwood and paperbark trees.  Want rock pools for nice reflection head to Dicky Beach on the Sunshine Coast.  Shorncliffe has one of the best piers and offers diverse photo opportunities along with playgrounds for the little ones.

Beaches and coastal areas are so diverse with many different backdrops, from bright skies, rocky headlands, piers, open woodlands, and golden sands.  This means a variety of looks can be achieved and sometimes all in the one location.  Light, bright and solid colours work best at the beach so keep it fun and fresh.

Early mornings or late afternoons are best ti visit the coast as the light is a lot softer and warmer to achieve that lovely soft warm glow.  If you are looking for bold and saturated colours it is best to shoot late morning or early afternoon when the sun is high so you can get deep blue skies.  Just remember the downside to this can be harsh shadow and squinting eyes.

Portraits in Parks and Garden Locations

Having your family or engagement photos taken in an outdoor location requires a lot more planning than showing up for a photoshoot in a studio but you don’t have to worry because I’m here to guide you through choosing the best times for your favourite locations.

  • Bright and Vibrant

  • Greens, and Yellows

  • Wear light colours to pop

  • Any time of the day

Your local park is the perfect place to have your family or engagement portraits.  The gardens are well manicured and you can always find a wonderfully soft patch of grass to throw out a picnic rug.  There are hundreds of parks in the greater Moreton Bay region and beyond, but a few of my favourites are Centenary Lakes in Caboolture, Lake Eden in North Lakes, and Mt Cootha Botanical Gardens.

Photos taken in parks and gardens are generally going to be bright and vibrant with lots of green to fill out the background, so you will want to wear something light and bright that will pop against the dark green backdrops.  There is usually a variety of backgrounds, walkways, and bridges to use in your photos and with so much variety and activity it will be quite fun and give great opportunity for candid images.

To avoid harsh overhead light, these locations are best shot early morning and late afternoon.  At these times you can expect nice golden light which is perfect for backlighting and flares.  Suffice to say you could still shoot here at any time of day as you can always find great leafy canopies to help soften the light.

Portraits in Rural and Bushland Locations

Having your family or engagement photos taken in an outdoor location requires a lot more planning than showing up for a photoshoot in a studio but you don’t have to worry because I’m here to guide you through choosing the best times for your favourite locations.

  • Bright and Warm

  • Yellows, Oranges, Greens and Browns

  • Wear darker clothing to contrast

  • Early Mornings or Late Afternoons

You don't need to head far out of Caboolture to find a nice rural or bushland scene.  You could go anywhere off the beaten track such as Kurwongba, Wamuran, Elimbah, Woodford, Mt Mee, Beerwah, or the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.

Open Bushland and Rural scenes can vary dramatically, from dense trees to great open vistas.  You will generally find elements such as dirt roads, trails, fences, structures and long grass to include in your portraits.

These areas offer light and bright backdrops with warm colour tones such as yellows, oranges, and browns, but still have a fair bit of green.

To avoid harsh overhead light, these locations are best shot early in the morning and later afternoon because at these times you can expect nice golden light which is perfect for back-lighting and flares. Darker clothing works well here for contrast with the lighter backgrounds, however wearing light and bright complimentary colours such as blues and whites help achieve bright airy images.

Portraits in Rainforest Locations

Having your family or engagement photos taken in an outdoor location requires a lot more planning than showing up for a photoshoot in a studio but you don’t have to worry because I’m here to guide you through choosing the best times for your favourite locations.

  • Dark and Moody

  • Greens, Browns, Greys and Black

  • Wear brighter colours to contrast

  • Mid-Morning to Mid-Afternoon

Head to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland for amazing rainforest locations such as Kondalilla Falls or Mary Cairncross Reserve.  You will come across some wonderful elements such as interesting tree trunks to pose against, rocks and boulders to sit on, pathways and bridged to lead into the scene, and not forgetting waterfalls and streams.

The rainforests are typically dark and moody with hues of browns, greens and blacks, so choose brighter colours that contrast with the dark greens of the background.

Rainforests are great at any time of day as the sunlight doesn't change dramatically under the dense canopies.  On sunny days you may get a lot of dappled light and pockets of light shining down like spotlights.

Alternatively, if the weather is overcast and verging on light showers, your images will tend to be softer and more evenly lit without harsh lighting and shadows.  I feel that the middle hours of the day are well suited to a rainforest photoshoot.

Sara & Phill: Buderim Wedding

My day started at Sara and Phill's apartment, not a bad spot overlooking the water from the top floor.  Sara and her family were getting ready here before heading to the ceremony at Wirreanda Park in Buderim.  It was a very casual affair where I was able to get some candid images of everyone preparing and just hanging out with each other. 

Stuart did a fantastic job with our wedding. We love the shots we got back, and noticed the attention to detail and fine editing.
He recorded all the special moments of the ceremony without us even realizing it was being done. We’d recommend him for any event.
— Sara & Phill

Phill and his mate Mick were already at Wirreanda Park in Buderim setting up and greeting the guests as they arrived.  The park is lined with fig trees with a huge green canopy above letting through gorgeous dappled light.  Bruce, Sara's dad, had been rushing to finish of his old Holden the night before - just in time to drive Sara and Ella to the ceremony.

One of my favourite moments to capture, Dad handing over his daughter

To finish the night off the reception was held at the Bird Cage function room at Parklands Tavern, I love using off camera flash around the room to give some energy to the dancefloor.

It was a big day for all.

When Sara and Phill arrived home from their honeymoon I had their proof images printed ready for them to select their favourite images for print.  Part of this wedding package included 4x6" prints, 8x10" prints, 11x14" prints and a few 16x20" prints, all of which were further retouched and enhanced to best suit the paper stock. 

Khalia & Mark: Red Beach

Khalia and Mark have known each other for the past five years but only met each other in person two years ago, and after spending an afternoon at the Beach with this laid back couple I get the feeling that these two will be the best of friends for years to come.

Mark had recently proposed to Khalia when visiting Cairns, being a bit of a joker Mark had asked Khalia if the box on the back seat of the rental car was hers or if it had been left there by the previous person, it must have been quite a shock as Khalia opened it up.

We headed to Red Beach at the southern tip of Bribie Island for the afternoon, the diversity of places to take photos is great with beach scenes through to the stringy paper barks and drfitwoods - it really is one of my favourite spots to photograph.      

I think it took a little while for Mark to warm up to me and the camera but pretty soon both Mark and Khalia were into the banter and had really loosened up.    

Bronwyn & Peter: Kurwongbah

Meet Bronwyn and Peter, a young couple who met online and hit it off. 

I wanted to try something different for this engagement session with Bronwyn and Peter so after the shoot I sat down with each of them and recorded the stories of how they met, their first impressions, and how Peter proposed.  The video above is the first of these personalised slideshows that I have created and I hope to do more in the future.



Yuka & Ryan: Ilkley Wedding

Ryan and Yuka wedding at Annabelle Chapel Sunshine Coast by Caboolture Wedding Photographer Stuart Cox of Stuart C Photography

Congratulations Ryan and Yuka! 

Ryan and Yuka held their wedding at Annabelle Chapel on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.  A quiet wedding in amongst beautiful gardens with close friends and family. 

My first solo wedding was a little bit different, the trend with young couples from the east is to have a pre-wedding shoot and use these photos to display at the reception for their friends and family to admire.  A few weeks prior the wedding I met with Ryan and Yuka at the chapel to shoot the formal photos, while this is not typical it relieves the pressure and stress of the wedding day and gives the couple more time to hang with their friends and family.  A selection of photos were printed on lustre paper and mounted to display at the reception. 

The wedding day was a relaxed affair where I shot the preparations at home, ceremony and formal group photos before heading to the reception for some candids and cake!  

Stuart turns every session into an adventure. We booked Stuart for 3 days and gave him a huge wish-list of shots that we wanted to play with from idyllic countrysides to casual candid moments to grainy film noir settings. It wasn’t just a photo shoot, it was a good laugh and great day of playing around. Stuart provides a full service which goes far and beyond a simple photography booking.

We spent days sending storyboards, props lists and location ideas back and forth. Stu somehow finds a way to turn each of his photos into a fun, compelling story. My advise is to give him a couple ideas that are important to you, and then just let him run wild with it. You won’t be disappointed and you know you’re getting a personal, dedicated service when your photographer is excitedly replying to your text messages at 2am in the morning..!

Thanks Stu, we really appreciated your creativity, humour and especially all the extra hours you put into our shoot!
— Yuka & Ryan

Morgan & Jordan: Shorncliffe Pier

In all the years I have been visiting Shorncliffe Pier I have never walked to the end of it, worth the walk as it's such a nice spot to take in the bay.  Morgan and Jordan met me down at the pier for a casual engagement shoot late in the afternoon, the weather was great with wonderfully warm skies.

These are a couple of my favourite images from the session which went for around an hour.  The above image really appeals to me, we took advantage of the sheltered area to avoid the wind which gives a sense of intimacy and privacy.

Congratulations Morgan and Jordan on your recent engagement and I hope you enjoy the fine art prints for years to come.

Morgan & Lara: Brisbane Power House

Female couple in black jackets against brick wall with green glass behind during evening

I met Morgan and Lara at the Brisbane Power House at Newstead on a Saturday afternoon, the aim for the shoot was urban and colour.  There was a bit of a jostle for positions among the numerous wedding parties but we managed to get around to all the great backdrops the Power House has to offer.

We created many great photos during the shoot and these are a small selection of my favourites.  Towards the end of the shoot Morgan and Lara had a wardrobe change and upon seeing Lara is her leather jacket I knew she needed to be the dominant character in this image pushing Morgan up against the brick wall.  

Morgan and Lara have been together for three years after meeting at a conference and recently became engaged.  Unfortunately Australia has a while to go before we are given the basic rights to marry the ones we love.

Nicolle & Nicholas: Dicky Beach, Caloundra

Couple standing in rockpool at dusk with reflection in water

Wow - Dicky Beach, Caloundra.  So many spots to strike a pose; rock pools, the waters edge, dunes, rocks, stairs... the mind boggles where to begin.

Nicolle and Nicholas were after some engagement portraits prior to their wedding so we all met up at Dicky Beach for a late afternoon session.  The image at the top of the page was experimental but it paid off, I used flash in a soft box on a stand just out of the frame to light the couple which allowed me to capture those awesome dark purple and blue hues of dusk.