Boston & New England Wedding Photographer Deborah Zoe

Boston & North Shore Wedding Photographer creating timeless imagery for classic New England weddings with a fine art approach.

Planning For Your Portrait & Engagement Session

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Tips and Tricks for Looking & Feeling Your Best!

'Tis the season for portrait and engagement sessions! I've been busily working behind the scenes helping my couples and famillies pull together style and vision for their upcoming sessions this fall. It's actually one my favorite parts about the creative process, pulling ideas and inspiration together and then bringing that vision to life. But if you're not like me, planning and styling your session might be a bit overwhelming. What should we wear? Where do we get outfits? How do we pull everything together? In today's post I'm sharing some of my best tips and tricks on how to style and plan for a portrait or engagement session to help you make the most of your time in front of the camera. Planning doesn't have to be overwhelming, in fact it can be a lot of fun! With just a few tips you too can bring your vision to life and create beautiful memories in front of the camera! Here's how :


 Vision & Theming//Location//Style//Resources

Every great session starts with a solid theme or vision. This vision is what will tie everything together. In everything that I do, I try to tell a visual story, with images that connect from one to the next. A common vision or theme can be a great foundation to this visual story.

This vision doesn't have to be an elaborate set up or overly styled prop backdrop. It can simply mean choosing an idea, location or color that has meaning to you. I would encourage you to think about the things that you enjoy doing together, the things that remind you of each other, places that you feel most in love.  You'll begin to notice a pattern, a common thread in all of these places, things and ideas. 

It is that commonality that will become the foundation of your vision for the session. It will dictate everything from location to style to color choices. This is a really fun part of the planning process, so don't be afraid to dig deep and think outside the box!

Things to think about : color, patterns, things you enjoy, mood, style



When you have a vision for the session, choosing a location becomes a much easier task. When you look back on your images, the location should enhance the connection you have together and play off of the theme and vision you have created. The location should be a place you feel a connection to, a place where you are comfortable and at ease. All of these factors play into the success of your images and are what truly allow your personalities to shine through. 

Things to think about : simple backgrounds, remove distracting elements, de-clutter the space, pretty does not always mean perfect, think outside the box, relatable to your relationship, places of meaning



Style is another piece of the planning puzzle that helps to tie everything together. Similar to the vision and theme of the session, you want your personal style to be connected and consistent throughout your images. You'll also want to choose outfit selections that are true to who you are, that you feel comfortable, confident and beautiful/handsome in. 

Remember that colors, patterns, layers and textures should all be complimentary. So for example, if your vision focused around a pastel color palette, you would select style choices that were soft, light, and neutral (think linen, denim, flowy, feminine.)

Things to think about : simple styling, relatable to environment, reflective of your personality, tailored and personalized, patterns, textures, layering



There are many great resources out there to help aid you in the planning of your portrait or engagement session. Here are some of my favorites : 

Hair & Makeup : I believe strongly that if you are going to be photographed it is worth investing in having your hair and makeup professionally done. Hair & makeup professionals know how to enhance your best features and what will photograph beautifully. Professionally hair and makeup ensures that you feel your absolute best in front of the camera which allows you to focus less on being photographed and more on the moments you are creating together. 

Some of my favorite hair and makeup professionals are list below :

Amanda McCarthy Beauty

Makeovers By Ligia

Hair That Moves

Just Hair by Kris


Styling : Not everyone is a natural born stylist, sometimes you need a little help pulling together the perfect selection of outfits for your session. One way I help direct in this area is by creating inspiration boards for each session based around a color palette and theme along with outfit inspiration To bring that to life, working with a stylist may be the answer. Below are a few great resources for help with styling a portrait or engagement session:

The Stylish One Julie is a Boston area stylist who works closely with her clients to create personalized style that fits with your session, event or wedding.

J.Crew & Nordstrom offer personal stylist who can help tailor outfits that fit perfectly together.

Rent The Runway I've heard about Rent The Runway over the years but it wasn't until recently that I discovered just how amazing it is!! Don't have it in the budget to splurge on that designer dress? No problem!! At RTR you can RENT your favorite designer gown at an incredibly affordable price and feel like a rockstar during your session. WIN.


Florals : I love flowers. Like loooove flowers. And if we didn't have a cat who liked to eat any bouquet my sweet husband brought home then I would be living in a sea of beautiful blooms. Perfectly picked florals make my heart soar and when they are uniquely designed into the theme for a session…it is perfection. Here are great places to source blooms for your upcoming session :

Les FleursDogwood Floral, and Whim Events are three amazing floral designers who delight in the art of crafting the perfect floral arrangement, whether that be a floral crown, bouquet, arrangement or simple accessory. They are masters when it comes to picking the perfect blooms for any occasion.

If you're on a budget, Whole Foods is a great option for sourcing florals. They have a beautiful selection of seasonal blooms that can be made into a simple bouquet or hair piece. A simple silk ribbon can help tie it all together.


I hope that these simple tips have equipped you to plan your engagement or portrait session with ease. Sometimes it takes the help of others to bring a vision to life, so don't hesitate to gather together a creative time of professionals to make it all come together. You are unique, your love is one of kind. Your engagement or portrait session should be too. I can't wait to celebrate that beauty with you!