Sarah Ellefson - Santa Barbara Wedding Photographer

Love Isn't Boring, why should your photos be?

Sarah Ellefson is a film inspired wedding, family, and editorial photographer based out of Southern California + New Mexico but travels worldwide. She lives for sunny days, intimate details, and candid images.

Engagement Session: Real Talk


Hey guys, Sarah here! 

Man oh man. I know it can feel kind of daunting to pick what to wear for photos. Here are a few guidelines I’ve put together so you guys can be sure to look AMAZING and be super into each other and feel like Beyonce, all while still making sure the images are focused on your relationship and personalities, not what you’re wearing. Full disclaimer, I don't consider myself a fashionista, I basically wear variations of black with jeans and sandals every day so there’s a super good chance you’ve got better style than I do! This is just what I’ve found to work best through trial and error from past shoots. Keep in mind, they're only guidelines, not rules! You can honestly show up wearing potato sacks if that's your jam.

Ultimately, I want you guys to look like yourselves. Don’t feel like if you don’t follow these guidelines that your photos are going to be lame. The most important thing is that you both feel and look like yourselves, how you normally dress, so you can be as comfortable as possible! Sometimes people try to go shopping for new clothes for the shoot beforehand but you really don't need to go that route. Bring stuff you normally wear, clothes that are already in your closet, the ones that you love and feel yourselves in. An old t-shirt and ripped jeans? Perfect. A lot of my couples will go shopping for “nicer” looking clothes which is totally fine, but sometimes they regret not just wearing they feel like themselves in. Who cares if you look back at the photos in 20 years and laugh about what you’re wearing? As long as it represented what you guys are like right now, thats all that matters. Plus, guys are usually not all that stoked about putting on a collared ironed button up with dress shoes if they’re used to wearing flannels and Birkenstocks every day. I can pinky promise you that they’ll be far happier to be at the shoot if you don’t force an outfit he thinks is stupid.

Here’s a few guidelines to help if you’re feeling lost about what to wear :


First off, I always recommend to bring options. To get the best results, I’ll pick and pull from the options you bring for you guys to change into for each location we shoot at. This way I can make sure the outfits compliment the environment so that the focus is on you two, not on any distractions, which yes, can be your outfits. All you have to do is make sure you bring stuff that you feel like a million bucks in that we can pick and pull from!

Don’t bring your whole closet though. It will take too much time for me to go through everything and will take time away from your session. Most people bring about 3 or 4 pairs of bottoms and 4 or 5 tops each, then you can bring dresses, accessories, jackets and whatnot as well. Also, just know that depending on where we are shooting, you’ll most likely be changing in the back of the car on the side of the road. If you aren’t down with that, that’s totally fine and you can just bring one outfit! Just make sure to text me a few photos of the outfit options you have and we can pick it out together beforehand.

Make sure it makes sense.

Think about the conditions and locations we are going to be shooting in and plan around it. If we are going to be hiking around the mountains, bring shoes with good grip and you won’t twist your ankles in. If we are shooting on a sandy beach, it would look pretty weird if you’re wearing shoes (P.S. heels are almost always a bad idea unless you’re freakishly good at walking in them!). If it’s freezing cold outside, bring lots of layers and warm clothes with wool socks and boots. If it’s going to be hot, bring clothes that can breathe more so you don’t have sweaty pit stains in the photos. Be as comfortable as you can be! For guys, I really recommend against wearing a tucked in shirt, belt, and dress shoes unless you guys are going for a super formal, glam look! Finally, aim to be the same level of dressiness and class, ESPECIALLY with your shoes! It looks super awkward if one of you is in a killer dress and heels and one of you is in cargo shorts and sneakers. 


(Taylor + Jeff decided to go mega formal for their session and it looked incredible because they both committed 100%.)



It's SO important sure that the materials you wear will keep you comfortable during the shoot, not only for the weather, but also with moving around! If you're in brand new jeans that are still stiff and tight, you might be distracted during the shoot trying to make sure everything stays in place and it'll be harder to sit, run, and move around comfortably. I recommend bringing clothes that are "broken in" so that you'll be as comfortable as possible. I also LOVE when people bring clothing or accessories that can show movement by catching wind because it adds energy to the photos and looks freaking gorgeous!

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I typically recommend sticking with neutrals and earthy tons! Neutrals don't just mean gray + grown, every color has a more neutral, muted tone! (Think mustard yellow, forest green, navy blue, burn orange, etc.) Avoid bright, fluorescent colors and I recommend staying away from bright oranges and reds unless you have dark or olive skin. Most of the time, those colors will make your skin look weirdly pink in photos! If you reallyyyyy want to wear something orange or red just check with me and I'll let you know if I think it will look good!

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Avoid big, loud, chunky, crazy patterns. The smaller or more subtle, the better! If the pattern is too loud, it will distract from your faces. I usually try to avoid pairing too many patterns together because, you guessed it, it makes the photos feel a little hectic and distracting from your faces and the location. Just a little tip, be sure to iron your clothes before so there’s not huge wrinkles distracting from your faces!

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The word "prop" probably evokes cheesy chalkboards and Pinterest photos, but if done right, they can elevate your engagement photos like no one's business! Hats, sunglasses, scarves, and jewelry are all fabulous! Just make sure to avoid wearing watches because they can look really distracting in close up shots. Other props could be a pizza picnic, a motorcycle or sweet car, blankets, a campfire, surfboards etc. A bouquet is ALWAYS a good idea, we can have so much fun with flowers! (If you want florist recommendations, check out my girl Fleur de Rye, she does killer engagement session bouquets!)

If you have props you want to bring, let me know and we'll make sure to incorporate them without feeling cheesy! 


Hair & Makeup.

If you're considering whether or not you should get your hair and makeup done by a pro, my answer is always “whatever will make you feel best, do that.” I'm a minimal makeup/messy bun person myself,  but if you want your hair and makeup done, then definitely do it! The most important thing is that you feel confident like Beyonce always. If you’re getting hair and makeup done, I recommend you schedule it to be done at least an hour before you have to leave for the shoot so you aren’t late. Also, if you’re whiter than toothpaste like me and want a spray tan, be sure to get a suuuuper natural airbrushed spray tan rather than one from a salon/tanning place. We don’t want you looking like an oompa loompa!

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DONE! That's all for now, folks!

If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to let me know! If you’re still freaking out about what to wear feel free to shoot me a photo with two of what you’re thinking OR we can create a little Pinterest board together. Over all, aim for comfort and what feels like you. You do you and I promise the photos will turn out amazing.



Owner | Lead Photographer


| Based in Santa Barbara, serving the west coast and the world |

Fun + Romantic Wedding Photography