engagement photos

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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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 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 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.


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.


 

    

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. 


Rachel & James: Buckley's Hole, Bribie Island

Engaged couple sunset at the beach, bribie island

Rachel and James met me at Buckley's Hole on the southern tip of Bribie Island for an afternoon portrait sessions.  We started off in and around the waterhole where the warm afternoon light filtered through the long grass before we hit the beach for the sunset.

Buckley's Hole is home to many species of waterbird and features a neat bird hide in amongst the pathways and boardwalks.  One of the pathways leads to the western facing beach, perfect for late afternoon portrait photos.


Ashleigh & Damon: Lake Eden, North Lakes

Golden light filtering through her red hair as she looks into her fiances eyes

Ashleigh and Damon were awesome, really playful young couple who came out to Lake Eden for a bit of fun.  The session started out with a stroll along the pathways and a bit of getting to know each other, the golden afternoon light was filtering through the trees behind so I set up with shot of Ashleigh staring intently into Damons eyes - one of my all time favourite images.

As the afternoon sun passed we moved to a nearby tunnel where the footpath traverses under the road above.  Here I set up some lights to make the purple graffiti pop from the background.  I finished off the session using just natural light and my Fuji XT1 camera, the skin tones and light fall off from this camera are just spot on. 


Tennille & Salvador: Kondalilla Falls, Sunshine Coast Hinterland

Engaged couple on rain forest path sunshine coast hinterland

Board walks and pathways, all leading lines to this photogenic couple.  I joined Tennille and Salvador for a bush walk around Kondalilla Falls in amongst the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.  The afternoon went quickly as they walked casually around the path seemingly forgetting that I was with them taking portraits.

The trees, figs, roots and pathways create plenty of locations and interest to set up a pose, I really enjoy taking photos in amongst all the greenery and dappled light.


Lara & Jason: Red Beach Bribie Island

Engaged couple looking over guys shoulder with golden light from behind

Red Beach is one of my favourite spots to visit, located at the southern tip of Bribie Island it makes for some fantastic afternoon portrait sessions.  While it is generally not sheltered from the weather, the tree lined dunes filter the afternoon sun perfectly making for some great bokeh.  

Lara and Jason met me there one sunny afternoon for an engagement portrait session and we were delighted with golden sunlight through the dark paperbark trees.  The image at the top of the page is my favourite from the portrait session; I like the light and airy feel from the golden sunlight filtering through the sea haze behind them.  The lens flair was not intentional but brings a feeling of warmth and retro charm to the shot.  The connection Lara has with the camera dominates the composition and draws your attention.

 
Thanks for your time today Stuart, it was great meeting you! Lara and I loved the setting and the shots.
— Jason
 

Laura & Trent: Red Beach Bribie Island

Young couple against dark natural background beach engagement photoshoot

It was the beginning of Autumn when I met Laura and Trent at the beach for their photo shoot, Laura and I had emailed back and forth about the shoot and finding a location that they could bring their dogs.  I'm a dog person myself so I know how big a part of the family a pooch can be.  

We head to Red Beach at the southern tip of Bribie Island, a dog friendly beach that at times can become quite busy.  A short walk from the car park and we soon found a place that was quiet, no one else around and the dogs could be let off to run and play at the waters edge.

Drift wood and paperbarks set the scenes, it was a little overcast on the day which still made for some great photos of the couple and their dogs.  I shot against the ocean, in the open on the beach, but my favourite background was the dark textures of the paperbark trees.