How to Create Effortlessly Beautiful Photos with DIY Style

One fall afternoon, I arrived about half an hour early at the coffee shop to meet my senior client and her mom for the first time. I sat at a table facing the door so I could waive down a mom and daughter in hopes that they were my clients. While waiting, a girl walked in with long-layered dark hair, floral shorts, layered tees and a textured cozy light sweater. She looked around a bit nervously and pulled her sweater sleeves over her hands as she made her way to the back of the coffee shop. I totally secretly wished she was my client. She had effortlessly great style and the girl next door sort of vibe.

As people entered the coffee shop, I continued to look for a mother and daughter pair that appeared to be meeting someone and then a pretty lady entered and looked straight at me as if I was expecting her. She approached me with a smile and said she was meeting her daughter here for our meeting. Brianna, the girl with effortlessly great style, came from behind us to join us at the table and made my wish come true!

We connected immediately and had our details mapped out in matter of minutes. This girl didn’t just have effortless style, even her beauty was effortless. We opted for an urban shoot over a nature shoot, because it suited her personality better and we agreed to keep her wardrobe simply styled since she shopped at Free People and Nordstrom, but also loved Forever 21 and Target. See? Total girl next door. She didn’t need much help with planning clothes and showed up with outfits that spoke EXACTLY what her style was about.

I wanted to use her simply fashionable styling as an example of how to be effortlessly beautiful in photos.


Brianna chose a “no make up” makeup look and natural hair style with body.   She wanted her senior photos to show both her friendly and approachable side and also laid back side.  Our makeup artist, Lucy Gonzalez, gave her a soft matte finish on her skin, softly blushed cheeks, a natural lip pigment and accentuated the natural beauty of her eyes and eyebrows.  Our hair stylist, Justin Arrellano, gave her a subtle body boost and added a touch of texture to her dark mane.

This first outfit is a dress from Free People.  She paired some light brown wedges with it as well as a black bandeau.  With clothes being so sheer these days, it’s important to find the right under garment that looks intentional and coordinates with the dress.  For jewelry, she kept it simple with her everyday delicate layered gold necklaces and a simple bangle bracelet.  She chose this dress, because it was a dress that she would wear on a girls night out to feel free.  This brings me to the first DIY styling tip.

Tip 1.  Pick a special dress that moves easily and speaks about your character.


Brianna also wanted to wear an outfit that she would wear on a casual day with friends.  She chose this flowy white top from Free People, her favorite jeans and brown booties.  She kept the accessories simple again with an African beaded eternity necklace to add a cultural feel.  We played around with the hat from Urban Outfitters to mix up the look.

Tip 2.  Add a jean or pant look to your wardrobe and dress it up a bit with your favorite top.


To catch more of a playful side, Brianna chose a back wrap top from Nasty gal, a maroon circle skirt, black wedge booties and a light patterned white and black scarf.  The wrap shirt exposed her belly more than her dad would have liked, so she brought along a lace tank to wear underneath it.

Tip 3.  Pick outfits to show different sides of your personality as well as back up undergarments and camisoles if needed.




Although all of these looks are SO Brianna, this last look says that she is the kind of girl who can have a great conversation over a cup of tea.  It’s comfy and casual, but so effortlessly styled.  She paired this Free People transparent sweater with a turquoise bandeau underneath to match her turquoise ring.  She also wore black cutoff shorts with black gladiator sandals and polished the look with a neutral skinny belt and long opal and tasseled necklace.

Tip 4.  Pull together an outfit that is SO you and make it special with all the right touches.  They can be subtle, but channel your inner stylist by browsing your favorite shops and clothing brands.




Over all, you outfits shouldn’t feel forced, but should feel like a more alluring version of what you would wear.  You senior photos are all about YOUR style during this time, so as you are soul searching to find the right brands that speak about your spirit pay attention to how the clothing is styled in magazines or on Pinterest and just tweak it to suit you.

How about you?  Do you have any DIY styling tips that have helped you come up with an amazing outfit? I’d want to here it! Leave me a comment and I’d love to add it to some future DIY styling posts!


Happy DIY styling!





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