So you’ve booked a photo session with your favorite photographer. Maybe you’ve had a consultation, you are prepared in terms of when to show up, when payment is due, where your shoot will take place, and what style your photographer typically presents. But have you considered what to wear to your session? Is your problem that you’re stressing out about all of your options, completely lost in the possibilities?Clothing might be a top concern for some, but many still neglect to consider what they will wear during the moments they plan to capture, display for a lifetime, or pass on to loved ones long after. Determining what to wear to a photoshoot doesn’t need to cause you stress, but you should include it as part of your preparation for the session.
What NOT to wear to a photoshoot
Needless to say, your photos will outlast your current obsession with “PINK” sweatshirts, or your favorite ice cream parlor in Myrtle Beach. So I highly recommend you skip the baseball caps and hoodies with logos, brands, cartoons, or public figures. This goes for children as well–your little princess might look incredibly adorable in her Frozen shirt, but do you really want to memorialize a free advertisement for a disney movie above your mantle? Do you want to look back on that time in your child’s life and see not only your child’s smiling face, but the animated face of her fleeting disney idol just 5 inches below hers?
Other than obvious brands, logos, or advertisements, a big no-no for your attire is a busy pattern or color. Your favorite everyday shirt might be one with every color in the rainbow in a plaid pattern, but I can guarantee that won’t look as amazing in a family photo as it does in your full-length mirror. Certain photographers might recommend plaid, stripes, or bright colors for the occasional shoot. Even still, your photographer will take into consideration how all of the pieces of clothing will compliment each other. Photographers plan the theme and style of the shoot to ultimately reflect their brand (yes, photographers have a brand). Leave behind your small stripes, high contrast patterns, and safety orange hoodie. These types of patterns can create a dizzying and unflattering pattern in photos.
The final piece of clothing faux pas for you is clothing that is simply too casual. I’m not saying you should show up in your best tuxedo and evening gown, although there certainly shoots where that is appropriate. But if you’re paying for professional photos you may as well dress up at least a little bit as opposed to what you might wear while you marathon Netflix in your bedroom. Specifically, stay away from tank tops with bra straps showing, white tees with subtle pit stains, strapless tops, sweatpants, hats, and jerseys. Sure, there are exceptions to every rule. But unless you’ve specifially discussed/planned otherwise, you can rule these types of clothing out. And definitely don’t wear all matching white tee shirts with jeans. Not only does it border on too casual, but it’s just downright unoriginal and overplayed at this point.
What to wear to a photoshoot
So you can’t wear your favorite sports shirt, your go-to political sweatshirt, or your most comfortable pair of sweatpants. What does that leave to wear? Fortunately, you still have a lot of options!
What you wear will depend on the time of year, the setting, the occasion, and ultimately your unique personality. It’s always a safe bet to be in touch with your photographer about your photo shoot outfits, but if no direction is specifically given, here are some general ideas about what to wear to a photoshoot:
- Keep accessories and jewelry simple, or skip it altogether.
- Stick to solid, muted colors–earthy tones, muted gem tones, monochrome, beige, and taupe are great examples.
- Low contrast outfits (if your shirt is pure white, go for lighter color bottom pieces.)
- Flatter your figure–don’t wear clothes that are entirely too tight or loose, or clothes that accentuate your insecurities. Wear something you feel beautiful in.
- Wear sleeves or quarter-sleeves if weather permits. In my experience, the women I photograph are most insecure about the way their arms appear. Covering your arms may take the focus away from them and flatter their shape at the same time.
- Dress in long skirts, pants, or dresses. There is just something about a long flowy dress that photographs so beautifully, and you will have so much fun wearing one!
- Wear your hair how you like it, but typically stay away from ponytails. Typically, the looser and more flexible the style, the better!
- Coordinate your clothing–in group photos, try to keep everyone on the same page and color palette of 2-4 colors. The best tip I recommend for a place to start your family outfit planning is to pick one item of clothing with a few colors (like mom or daughter’s dress) and pull colors from that for everyone else to wear. Dress like you go together.
Headshots and personal branding attire
Many of the tips above apply to headshot and branding sessions, but I wanted to address how dressing for headshots can be a little different:
- Ladies, the most important aspect of your outfits for headshots is your neckline. I recommend bringing tops and dresses that have asymmetrical or modest necklines (save the cleavage for a boudoir shoot). Round necklines are elegant, classic and professional. V-necks tend to give off a more casual vibe and don’t typically sit as nicely over your shoulders and chest. Round necks are my favorite because they bring attention back up toward your eyes.
- Bring at least one dress to your session! Dresses with a thicker material will fight off wrinkles better than thin dresses. You can absolutely bring patterned or colorful dresses.
- Bring your jewelry! I’ll help you pair jewelry with your outfits when you arrive to your session.
- Avoid shirts with collars unless that is part of your job-specific attire
- Wear simple, barely there makeup. Especially avoid heavy eye makeup.
- Bring solid colored neutrals and basics that we can mix and match.
- Bring a whole suitcase if you can’t decide, I’ll be happy to help you go through your options!
- Bring options! Bring different ties, different shirts, different suit jackets.
- For casual headshot sessions or actor headshot sessions, bring a basic soft tee and long sleeve shirt.
- Wear white, grey, black, and taupe. Avoid bright neons.
- Bring something fun if that’s your brand or your personality! If you have a shirt with a fun pattern, bring it along! We might be able to work with that.
- Don’t wear foundation or powder.
- Groom your hair and/or facial hair.
At this point you should have some idea of what to wear to a photoshoot, but you may still be wondering what my reasoning is for all of these pieces of advice. All of these suggestions are given for the same reason: to draw attention to your faces and not your clothing. The best clothing choices are the ones that don’t draw attention before your face. These aren’t guidelines to make your life harder or micromanage how you choose to appear. However, they are safe bets if you want your portraits to represent you or your family across time. Trust me, your portraits will be beautiful even if your clothes bore you.
Keep on the lookout for more photography tips from the blog page!