Holy Cow, My photoshoot is tomorrow and I don't know what to wear!

July 19, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Don't worry, you will be fine take a deep breath and read this article you're going to be fine. One of the most frequently asked questions I am faced with as a photographer is what do I wear to a session. I truly think there should be a book written on this subject but then again there is no one correct answer when it comes to your own style or preference.With that being said, I like to encourage my clients to try and be yourself and dress in your own comfort zone but take some of this advice into consideration

Here are a few suggestions I use when faced with this question.

When in doubt, casual works best. Jeans and a solid or simple-patterned top work well. Crazy patterns are distracting and draw the eye away from the most important part- your faces! Darker colors are often better; not only are darks slimming, but clothing that is too-light in color on some skin tones will tend to wash out the overall color. Neutrals/earth tones like browns, greens, and blues are nice. Be sure to complement the other people in the photo- don’t dress exactly alike, wear colors that go well together or different shades of the same color. Layering is a good idea, not only does it look nice for photos but you can take off the top layer for a new look without changing much.

Be conscious of your body, hide what you don’t like and accentuate your assets! If you hate your arms, wear long sleeves. Don’t wear tops that show tan lines or bra straps (consider the double sided fashion tape if this is an issue). Articles of clothing that are too small or “don’t hang right” won’t look better in photos that it looks in the mirror. Dress to impress from head to toe- I always do some full length shots, so make sure the shoes match the outfit!

If you wear transition lenses and are doing outdoor portraits, see about having the lenses taken out for the day of your shoot.

Regarding make-up, don’t be afraid to go a little heavy on the foundation and concealer (be sure it’s the right tone, and blend well at the jawbone to the neck area). Wear facial powder, and be sure to bring the compact for any touch ups, especially in the summer months. Avoid too much dark on the eyes, neutral/earth tones work well here too.

Be sure your nails are well manicured- especially for engagement sessions- we will be doing a few shots to showcase the ring! They don’t have to be painted, but make sure the nails are all even lengths with no hangnails. Dark nail polish shows up very dark in B&W portraits, so a medium shade or french manicure is better if you prefer them colored.

Accessories are always fun and can make a difference in the images. Be wary of huge earrings or necklaces that constantly need to be repositioned. Clean your jewelry if needed (especially for engagement sessions). Feel free to bring any “props” that echo your personalities (for example: a football, sunglasses, guitar, etc.)

Things that are handy to bring along to a photo session. A comb or brush and hair-spray if you use it. A light face powder to reduce any shine on your face that may build up during your shoot. For gents (or women who prefer not to wear much or any makeup), bring a lip balm. Dry lips don't show well in photos and so a non-shiny, non-waxy, none colored lip balm is essential. Avoid chap sticks, as they tend to leave a white residue. If you normally wear makeup, bring it with you but avoid high gloss lipsticks or very shiny lip gloss. Often they look too unnatural and reflect too much light in photos.

Pregnancy / Maternity

 There are lots of clothing options for a maternity portrait each can be used with different lighting and backdrop styles:
  • White blouse, with lacy cuffs with a few buttons fastened and your bump on show, this works really well with a white backdrop.
  • Cropped top and casual trousers/tracksuit bottoms in a dark color; this can be effective with either a white or black backdrop. When using the black background moody lighting is used to add shadows and depth to your portrait.
  • Wearing some pretty lingerie. You can go for the bright and happy look, you looking beautiful and confident against a white background.
  • Wrapped in a sheet, just below your baby bump. (White or black - to match the background).
Since your baby bump will be exposed, it is important that, for a couple of hours before the shoot, you don't wear any tightly fitting clothes across it (we don't want any marks left by waist bands etc), likewise for any other areas that are likely to be exposed.

Children, toddlers and babies

  • Little ones photograph best in simple clothing. White and pastels are classic choices.
  • Newborns and babies have gorgeous skin, and nothing shows off that natural, innocent soul like nakedness (or just a diaper). An added bonus for slightly older babies, is that eyes tend to stand out more when they are not overpowered by clothing.
  • A popular look for baby and children portraits is all white. This gives a clean and natural look to the images, and is a great way to create a classic portrait that captures the purity of childhood.
Don't be afraid to put your baby or child in bold colors or prints. Although not generally recommend for an adult (or newborns), vivid colors on young children will result in a playful, lively portrait, especially primary colors like red, blue, and green.

If your child wears his Superman cape everyday, maybe you should let him wear it in a few pictures. Why not? You want pictures that capture that your little man really is, right? Besides, he may be much more willing to take other non-cape pictures afterwards. Props can be great addition, too, so consider bringing your child's favorite book, stuffed animal or toy.

Group photos - the family portrait

Coordinate outfits. Everybody in the portrait should wear items that complement each other in style and color. It is not necessary for all clothes to match, but they must make sense together. Choosing clothes with same or similar colors unifies the picture and keeps the focus on the people in the picture.


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