SO HERE'S THE RUNDOWN...
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 this what to wear guide to help you look your best at your next photoshoot! (Full disclaimer, I don’t know anything about fashion. I wear men’s t shirts and socks with sandals every day so there’s a hell of a good chance you’ve got better style than I do haha!) This is just what I’ve found to work best from trial and error from past shoots, they’re only guidelines, not rules! You can show up wearing potato sacks for all I care.
Ultimately, I want you to look like yourselves. Don’t feel like if you don’t follow these guidelines that your photos are gonna suck. The most important thing to me is that you guys feel and look like yourselves, how you normally dress, so you can be as comfortable as possible! A lot of people try to go shopping for new clothes for the shoot beforehand but I actually recommend not going that route. Bring stuff you normally wear, stuff that’s already in your closet that you love and feel yourselves in. A lot of my clients 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 are like right now, thats all that matters.
1. Individual Outfits
It's important to choose clothing that represents your personal style and flatters your body.
- Incorporate layers and clothes with some texture to add visual interest to your look and give you multiple posing and styling options. Jackets, sweaters, scarves, textured fabrics -- all of these things add that extra umph, making the difference between a basic image and an extraordinary one.
- Choosing clothes that show movement in photographs can make a world of difference for your shoot. Dresses that catch the wind behind you, or jackets that you can work into your poses - open, closed, or wrapped around you. Clothes that show movement not only make images more impactful, but also help your posing, giving you more variety and options for what to do with your hands and posture.
- Colors to that work with my editing: whites, ivory, off whites, neutrals, khaki, green, browns, jean color, light blue, neutral tones, etc.
- Colors that won't work with my editing: Reds, hot colors, any bright or neon colors.
2. How to Coordinate Group Outfits
Coordination is key, but there is such a thing as matching too much. Don't choose identical outfits. Instead, choose a color palette that each person can make unique with variations of texture and style, accessories, or a subtle pattern.
- Now this doesn’t mean everyone has to 100% match with khaki pants or jeans and a white shirt! You want to complement each other’s outfits by choosing colors that work well together. I find that if everyone is wearing the same clothing, people will all tend to blend in together and there won’t be too much pop and life to the images. Coordinate VS. Matching.
- Colors & patterns: Colors are everywhere around us and bring things to life… why not bring your images to life as well! Again, be sure the colors you use coordinate with each other and you don’t just end up looking like one big rainbow family! I really love neutral colors like browns, whites, greens, etc. When picking patterns, choose smaller ones that won’t distract attention away from the main subject/s. Use patterns sparingly…. if one person is wearing a print, try to avoid putting someone else in a competing pattern. When thinking about texture, choose different ones that will give photos some interest such as lace, corduroy, denim, etc. Avoid large logo’s, emblems and graphics like “GAP” and “Old Navy” because again, these will typically distract attention away from the subject. We want your faces and emotion to show, not promote the clothing company you purchased from!
3. Accessories & layering
I can't stress this enough, accessorize! Accessories are one of the biggest contributors to visual interest in your look.
- Jewelry - earrings, layered necklaces, bracelets, watches, rings, leather wrapped bracelets.
- Sunglasses, Belts, Scarves, Handbags - all add variety to your images and also give you more posing options. Bring whatever you have and we can add them, or not, based on the look.
- Suspenders, Bowties, Hats - don't stray too far from your usual style to the point that you aren't comfortable, but think outside the box. Try things you like but wouldn't always wear that might give your images that extra wow factor.
- Shoes: Im all for a sassy pair of shoes, however they may make for a very long and painful session. If you plan on wearing heels, be sure to bring a pair of flats or flip flops that can help you get from point A to point B without any pain. You can just swap them out as you need to.
- Layer up! - One of my favorite “tips” for clothing choices! In the Summer months, this may be more difficult to pull off but during all of the other seasons, definitely layer your outfits. Not only will it provide more visual interest in each photo but it will also allow a lot more variety in your shots and poses. Have a ton of images of yourself in just your dress or cute top and jeans? Throw on a little sweater or jacket and a hat and you have entirely different look.Wearing layers is a great form (and function). Not only does combining layers and textures create more visually interesting photographs, but it preps you for all sorts of weather conditions, too! This could be a cute jacket, cardigans, hats, scarves, tights, and headbands.
A NOTE ON GLASSES: If you always wear them, plan to wear them in your photos. We can always do some photos with & some without so you have options. Do not wear transition lenses to your session. There will be a fee per image for retouching dark lenses.
4. Subtle, Meaningful Props
Bringing things that represent you can also add variety and visual interest to your images. Play an instrument? Bring it! Love to paint? Let's come up with a concept that incorporates your work. Books, sports equipment, balloons, flowers, pets (we love to include your furry family members!) are all welcome. Just be sure to tell us ahead of time so we can come up with a great way to include them in your shoot.
5. Fabrics and colors to avoid
- Avoid cotton tees or tanks: While they can be great in real life, they're often too tight for photos. General rule of thumb: if you can see your belt loops through the shirt, it's too tight.
- Avoid any bright colors: A rule of thumb here is to choose to either complement your natural environment or contrast it. A mustard dress in a deep green forest will look epic, whereas a bright pink, patterned dress doesn’t really fit in with your surroundings. It totally depends on what you’re looking for! For families it’s best to keep your colour scheme limited to four colours. You can choose one person to wear a feature colour and have everyone else’s outfits complement that.
This section may go without saying, but it’s important to groom before your session.
- Manicured nails: Hands show in many poses. Remove any chipped polish or treat yourself to a manicure pre-shoot.
- Sort out your hair! Stray nose hairs? trim them. Beard? shape it. Gloriously bushy brows? Clean up the center/use a brow brush to shape. And touch up those roots if you dye! They’re a real pain to photoshop.
- Keep make up natural, but still have some on: You will want to avoid using very heavy makeup, but a bit of color on your lips, eyes, and cheeks will help bring you to life in photos. Be sure to bring some lip gloss with you as well.
7. One last thing, dress for the location
Don’t forget to keep in mind where your session is. Choosing clothing that fits the vibe of your location is key for overall impact of an image.
- Dress for the season & location: Obviously you want your images to make sense. One typically wouldn’t be wearing jeans, boots, and a jacket to the beach in the summer so why would you for pictures? Dress the part and be aware of your location.
- Shooting downtown? Think urban style - hats, layered jackets, handbags, boots or sneakers.
- At the beach? Think flowing fabric, linen pants or shirts, sunglasses, sandals or barefoot.
If I were building outfits for my family this is how I would do it:
- Keeping your location and season in mind, start with one person. Don’t try and think of everyone at the same time. I find that mom or a little girl makes the most sense since they would typically be the ones wearing a print. So mom will be wearing a floral print dress (small pretty pattern that is).
- Now move on to the next person. You will be pulling colors from mom’s dress so begin to think about who in the family would look good in what colors. Dad doesn’t look so good in XYZ since it tends to drown out the tone in his skin. Let’s pick ABC for him instead. And so on.
- Then start to come up with ideas to personalize the session. A little boy may have a security blanket or teddy bear he never parts with…. be sure to bring that with you. The little girl may like crafting so have her make a cute matching headband or clip for her hair. Mom loves tulips… on your way to the session pick some up. Make thoughtful choices and be sure to discuss the ideas with your photographer! Believe me, most are full of ideas however, it’s always nice when the family helps and truly ensures a “custom” session.