Updated: Mar 29, 2020
So you’ve booked your shoot, congrats! You’re committed and excited, but what do you wear? The following is a guide for how to choose your outfit(s) for your photography session. I really want to emphasize that this is a guide and it is only intended to provide you with ideas and inspiration. Ultimately, it’s your shoot and I want you to feel as comfortable and confident as possible, because being perfectly you is way more important than having the perfect outfit. You don’t need to go out and buy anything special unless that’s something that’s important to you to feel your best. To give you even more peace of mind, remember that I am a professional photographer and I will make you look great in just about anything, so don’t let choosing your outfit cause you any unnecessary stress or anxiety. Lastly, I’m always here to give you guidance and help you choose, so know that we are in this together and there is absolutely nothing to worry about.
Suggestions for your Portrait Photography Session
A portrait photography session is designed to feature the face and identity of the subject. This means that compositionally I am working to draw attention to your personality and minimize distractions. When planning your outfit here are a few tips to keep in mind that will help to draw positive attention towards your best features:
Dark clothing tends to slenderize: Dark clothing is a really good choice for a portrait session because it has the effect of blending the body in with the background and accentuating the face.
Tone down bright colors: Bright colors are so much fun to play with but aren’t necessarily the best choice as they can take emphasis away from your face, which is what we are trying to feature! This doesn’t mean that you can’t have a color pop, just try to stick with pastels and neutrals for the main outfit pieces and then use color sparingly to add texture and detail.
Choose more lights and whites: Whites look amazing on camera, especially in natural light. It brightens up the frame, adds a peaceful presence, and invites the eye in. If you’re really worried about not looking slender then white might not be your friend, but you can always bring a white option, just in case!
Avoid prints, patterns, and logos: Not only are prints distracting, but they can actually cause really bad distortions in the digital image that aren’t there in real life, so it’s best to just avoid prints, patterns, and logos altogether.
Avoid short sleeve clothing and short pants: This is especially important for portrait photography because any skin that is showing will distract from your face.
Don’t over accessorize: Too many accessories can be a huge distraction. Keep it simple and minimal.
Glasses: It doesn’t really matter too much either way, but if you don’t have non-reflective lenses and contacts are an option for you, wear your contacts. If you don’t have contacts, don’t opt to do your photoshoot blind as it will affect the connection I’m looking to capture in your eyes.
Nails: Nails should be clean and manicured. No chipped nail polish! If you want the natural, no polish look, then consider applying a clear coat so they look nice and put together. (Tip: make sure your nails are done the day before your shoot so they have ample time to dry and get touched up if needed)
Hair: Hair should be simple and out of your face. Make sure it’s washed, dried, and styled. It’s always a good idea to bring a hairbrush, bobby pins, hair ties, hairspray, and anything else you might want to fix or change your hair for different looks.
Makeup: I definitely recommend getting your makeup done professionally for your photoshoot because it will make a huge difference in how you look and feel. Makeup and camera techniques work in tandem to highlight your best features, and the final product will be that much better if the polishing happens in person rather than in the editing process. The good news is that I am a certified makeup artist so I can take care of your makeup for you, should you choose to add on that service to your photoshoot. Either way, make sure you get plenty of water the week of your photoshoot (especially the night before), eliminate sugar and any inflammatory foods as best you can, moisturize your face and neck, exfoliate and moisturize your lips, consider using fake eyelashes if you know how to apply them, and don’t forget to brush and floss your teeth! Lastly, make sure you practice what makeup look you are going to create before the day of your shoot, that way you can know if there are any adjustments you need to make.
Suggestions for your Group/Family Portrait Session
Many of the portrait session suggestions ring true when choosing the perfect outfit combination for your group/family session. Start by choosing a color palette, or 3-4 tones, that will flatter the whole family. Keep it simple, and focus on choosing outfits that feature faces but also compliment the collective look. The goal here is to blend the bodies so that no individual stands out, but also to highlight each individuals’ best features. You also want to avoid looking too matchy-matchy as best you can. A great way to see if the outfits compliment each other is to lay everything out on a bed (socks, shoes, and accessories too) and see if any particular item draws your immediate attention. If anything stands out you should consider switching that item for something more cohesive. Also, don’t sacrifice fit for coordination! Make sure everything fits well for everyone because it doesn’t matter how cohesive you are, if something fits too tight or too loose it will be a distraction.
Suggestions for your Maternity Session
A maternity session is designed to show off that cute baby bump and the natural beauty of the human body during pregnancy. For these shoots, I recommend bringing a white outfit and a black outfit. A button down top where the belly can be exposed, or a nice flowy robe are both great options. Make sure you have the appropriate undergarments to feature your body and compliment your outfit options (bringing lots of options is never a bad idea). Keep in mind however, you are not going to want to change too much because that gets exhausting and tedious when you’re pregnant, so it’s best to bring things that you can change into easily. If the father or any kids are going to be in the shoot as well, encourage them to also wear black and white and to follow the portrait session suggestions above.
A few last tips:
Choose your location before you choose your outfit, and make sure that your outfit is appropriate for the weather and the terrain.
A great resource is the color wheel. If you know the colors available at the location you’re shooting at you can choose a color that is opposite on the color wheel to inspire your outfit.
Lay out your outfits the night before and make sure that everything is clean and wrinkle free.
Always bring a backup pair of shoes, just in case.
Bring layers in case the weather changes.
Lastly, be true to you.
Always remember that you are not alone in choosing your outfit(s). I am here for you every step of the way if you have any questions or need any help. Ultimately, I want to make sure that you have the best experience possible, and help you to look and feel your best.
I've put together a Pinterest board that you can look at for outfit inspiration based on what I think would look excellent in a shoot. https://www.pinterest.com/christinajzimmerman3256/outfit-inspiration-for-photoshoots/