Top Ten Tips for What to Wear to Your Photo Shoot

Though it's snowy and cold today, spring is quickly approaching and it's time to start thinking about warmer weather and the opportunity to capture some memories in the sun. Trying to coordinate two or more outfits in family photos can be daunting! These aren't just pictures you'll be posting to Facebook, but images you'll be investing in, hanging on your walls, and cherishing for generations. It can seem overwhelming when considering what to wear, but following these tips can help you pick out the perfect wardrobe.

1. Coordinate, don't "match."  There are a couple of reasons I steer clients clear of groups all wearing white or black shirts and jeans. First, it's dated and looks boring. Second, detail often get blown out when someone is wearing bright white. Third, you don't want your family's bodies to blend into one another creating a blob with multiple heads. But it's also important to not look like one person just came home from work and the other has been painting the house. The key is to coordinate. Pick a color scheme and overall style to create a fresh look that will feel pulled together and classic.

What to Wear | Family


What to Wear | Family by archandbeau

2. Look at your home decor. In the same way that you would pick out more wintery clothes for a holiday card, think about the setting in which your photos will be displayed. Since you'll be hanging these pictures in your home, it can help to use the colors in your home as a guide. My home has mostly muted tones and is very casual, so the above board naturally appeals to me. Alternatively, if you have more formal interiors, you will probably want to dress up a little more for your portraits. You could also use your portraits as an opportunity to add a pop of color to a somewhat drab room.

pet portrait wall

3.  Accessorize. Accessories not only add to your outfit but they can be fun to use in photos. (Peeking out from behind a hat, a child holding a mother's necklace...) They are also easier to switch out if you want a couple of different looks, but won't have the opportunity to do outfit changes.

4. Limit patterns. If you can find one that isn't too busy, it's great to have an article of clothing in the mix that pulls together the colors in the scheme, but it's a tall order. If the colors are off, a busy pattern can really distract the eye. Further, you should avoid dressing everyone in a pattern, especially the same pattern. If you're unsure, the safest bet is for most of the models to wear solids and bring in different pops of color with accessories.

5. Say yes to textures and layers. On the flip side of the patterns argument, don't shy away from textures. They will give your photographs much more interest.  Scarves or belts are a great way to bring some depth into an image that is a little flat.

6. Don't forget your feet.

Don't wear white athletic socks  with dark shoes or old crummy tennis shoes. Unless you're headed to a studio photographer that will only get your photo from the waist up, shoes will be visible in some of your shots. Furthermore, it's always a good idea to bring flats along- a lady's heels are just ground aerators if we shoot in a field.

west virginia senior portraits

7. Plan ahead.

Don't put off pulling together everyone's outfits. I made this mistake years ago as a client and it was the most stressful thing! We thought- "hey, neutrals, that's easy enough. Everyone will just grab something out of their closet that day." Big mistake. Clothes in mind were dirty or outgrown, unflattering, or the wrong shade of brown. You get the idea.  Give yourself time to dry clean that flouncy skirt, order your daughter an adorable headband, and make sure your husband's pants still fit.

Plenty of lead time can also permit a fun themed shoot. Mad Men engagement? Enchanted Forest Senior Portraits? Sounds fun! CWP is in!

8. Sorry Olaf, no characters. 

Your three year old might love their Disney shirt, but just like too-busy patterns, the shirt will distract from everyone's beautiful faces. Further, shirts with characters or words usually look pretty dated and make your photos look cheap. However, feel free to bring the kiddo's favorite toy to keep them interested and in a playful mood!

9. Comfort is king. 

While you should look a little fancier than usual (think a daytime date), a photography session is not the time to squeeze into an outfit that doesn't fit just right.  You want to feel like yourself in front of the camera and you shouldn't have to worry about whether this particular angle is flattering. If I learned anything from watching "what not to wear" in the early 2000's, it that we look trimmer in the right size rather than trying to squeeze into the size we were 5 years ago.


10. Remember the weather.

Blue lips and shivering is never a good look! Keep in mind that the weather may not cooperate completely with your vision, and to bring a couple of outfits or layers that can keep you comfortable. If we have wee ones in the shoot, it's even more important they keep toasty and happy. If, on the other hand, you're going to rock a sundress despite it being 60 degrees, kudos, but make sure to bring yo'self a coat for in-between shots!

 Oh! and one Bonus tip: ladies, bring your lipstick and powder for touch-ups!
So book your date now and start planning!
Claire Watson