what to wear to your photography session
This is for sure one of my most-asked questions from clients: What should I wear for my session?!?! (Do you sense that visceral desperation?!?!?!?) Well, fear not, friends. While every session is different and dependent upon circumstances like weather, time of year, and how each family, couple or individual plans to use their photos, there are a few tried and true tips that—I believe—always ring true.
Comfort is key
Most importantly, wear what makes you feel comfortable and beautiful. “Comfortable” doesn’t have to mean lounge-y or frumpy; instead, think of “comfortable” as an outfit that feels like you and (ideally) one that you can move easily in.
Whether you’re a couple taking engagement pictures or a family capturing another meaningful year, wearing something that you can move dynamically in always creates the more organic, natural image. Ask yourself: Is this something that I can sit on the ground in easily? Can my fiance pick me up and spin me in his arms without me ripping a seam? Can I pick up or chase my kiddos in what I’m wearing? The answer doesn’t have to be yes, but do consider what you’re giving up in creative poses if you can’t move comfortably and easily during your session.
Classic over trendy
You know what’s the worst? When you look back on photos from years ago and think, “what the heck was I wearing?!”
To avoid this heartbreak, err on the side of classic cuts and flattering silhouettes. Is this ensemble something you love today? Great. Is it something you’ll love just as much in 10 years? Even better.
This is a photoshoot celebrating you, not Nike, Abercrombie & Fitch or The Gap. Instead of showing up as a walking, talking billboard for your favorite brands, scratch the apparel that has prominent logos. Pick pieces that elevate you, not a fashion house. No one wants to look back and think, why did I grab that out of my closet?
As you know, there are exceptions to every rule. Subtle nods to meaningful brands can flow seamlessly in a shoot when they’re chosen intentionally. Love that Gucci leather belt that highlights your waist in a flowy dress, or that Chanel necklace passed down from your grandmother? Go for it! (And hey, want to switch closets?) Before you blindly grab for a logo-drenched accessory or article of clothing, ask yourself: Do I feel like me in this?
Layer, layer, layer
Hats, scarves, vests, sweaters…bring ‘em on. These elements are great for any shoot because they add variety to your look without the cumbersome task of changing your entire outfit. You never know which pieces you may love (or hate) on camera, so giving yourself a little variety is a great fail-safe to ensure you walk away with photos you’ll love. By the way, this is a great way to play with trendier items without any lasting consequences!
Pro tip: If you’re doing a mini-session and feel short on time, this is a great way to maximize your looks without ever attempting a full wardrobe change. Win, win!
Make a Pinterest board and find the patterns
A great way to prepare for a session is to create an inspiration board on Pinterest. (You can check out mine here for some ideas of what I personally love!) Pin what you love, then look back and see what connects a majority of the images together. Do you love more muted, neutral colors? Are most of your images evoking blue hues, or perhaps jewel tones? Is your eye drawn to flowy fabrics or more structured looks? Is your style modern or bohemian?
Look back through your saved images and see what connects them. And, importantly, see what’s not represented. If you don’t see a lot of bold fabric patterns in the pins you love, maybe don’t show up to your session in Lily Pulitzer, ya know what I mean?
Complementary, not matchy matchy
You know those family beach pictures where everyone’s in the same all-white get up? Yeah, mhmm, not really my thing. Sure, it makes the image cohesive, but it’s the lazier way to achieve it. Instead, look for complementary colors that work well together, rather than aiming for total matchy matchy-ness. This keeps the look cohesive while still remaining dynamic and allowing individual personalities to shine through.
This is another fantastic way to leverage Pinterest, friends. You can start with your inspiration Pinterest board, then find the color palettes that stand out. Once you’ve identified a foundational color or two, it’s an easy Google or Pinterest search to find complementary colors and outfit ideas that work within that spectrum.
Consider your surroundings
Your location can totally inspire your wardrobe. I’d probably dress one way for photos at a city rooftop bar with the skyline behind me than I would for a photoshoot in the mountains—and I’m guessing you would, too.
If you’re at a loss for what to wear, let your location be your guide. For instance, if you’re shooting in the snow you may really want that contrasting pop of color to stand out in a sea of white. Or, if you’ll be shooting in the lush greenery of summer, you may choose something more muted and pastel-inspired.
If you have the benefit of multiple locations or outfit changes, consider bringing a dressier option and a more casual option. This way, you’ll get the most variety and feel location-appropriate.
Well, there you have it, friends. A few tips to get you started as you approach the (often-overwhelming) task of selecting your wardrobe for a photography session. I hope these tactics are helpful as you raid your closet—and possibly your best friend’s. Here are a few parting words of advice:
Don’t leave this decision for the day of (#stress much?)
If you don’t see what you’re looking for in your own closet, consider elevating your look with a rental service like Rent the Runway. Who doesn’t love a little splurge? Plus, you’ll look great for that date night after the shoot.
Communicate with and ask questions of your photographer. I love being a resource to my clients on subjects like this, so I’m always happy to be a sounding board as you narrow down your look for a shoot!
Leverage your resources and trust your instincts, and you’re sure to walk away with outfits—and, ultimately, photos—that you love.