I decided to do an updated post about choosing what to wear for a session, because it continues to be a popular topic among clients, friends, and family when preparing for their photo session! Over the last 6 years, I have gathered that it truly helps people to plan for their session when they have a type of dress code to go by!
By dress code, I just mean some helpful suggestions by means of what I have experienced from behind the camera as to what works BEST, in regards to lighting and also what people want to see in the end!! I have also had a few clients tell me that they “wished they dressed up even MORE”. So to me, it’s time I address this issue thoroughly!
So WHY should you dress up for your session…. Well. Because these are classic images, that are eventually going to be hung on your walls, or in albums passed down to children and grandchildren!
This is YOUR session, and more importantly, YOUR TIME!! I have said this before, but there is simply no such thing as too dressed up!
Colors & Coordination
Let’s face it, getting ready for a session is A LOT of work. I completely understand this as a woman and a mother (!!), so I am writing this to inevitably help whoever reads this! I want your time spent before and during your session to be as stress-free as possible!!!
As far as colors are concerned… neutrals are the most classic colors. They compliment the natural light and that dreamy, glowy light we all love! I typically suggest for clients to choose neutrally colored outfits, with lighter tones and muted shades. This softer color palette fits beautifully into all natural outdoor environments, whether you’re in a grassy field, in the mountains, or amongst city architecture.
I would also challenge you to think in terms of “coordinating”, versus “matching”. It is essential for families to consider what color palette would fit together best, so that we are able to create more visual interest in your images.
Okay ladies: I believe that we feel most beautiful when we choose to wear a dress or skirt, and heels! Long, flowy dresses and skirts look amazing on camera because they bring extra movement to your photos. Heels elongate our legs and make them look fabulous!
Consider your silhouette when choosing a dress and try to compliment your natural features that you love best! In my experience, most women have an area of their body that they are self-conscious about. Recognizing that area in advance and avoiding an outfit that would accentuate that particular area, will certainly ensure that you’ll love your photos!
I also recommend that you consider splurging on professional hair and make-up for your session. It looks amazing on camera and also alleviates the stress of getting ready yourself. Professional hair and make-up will also give you a boost of confidence in front of the camera, and it always photographs like a dream!
Solid colors, layers, fitted pants and closed-toe shoes look very sophisticated and sharp for the guys. Adding finer details, such as a watch or tie, a blazer, and brown leather shoes will certainly enhance the timeless look to your images.
Again, neutral colors will always photograph best. Solid navy blue, gray, white, or beige do tend to coordinate well with most women’s outfits. I suggest avoiding plaids and pinstripes, as well as logos and graphics; as these styles tend to distract the eye.
I understand that sometimes our guys aren’t as initially thrilled, so to speak, about getting professional pictures taken. However, I can factually say that almost all the guys that I have photographed, have walked away from their session, genuinely surprised at how much fun he had! So… In the end, I believe that the guys DO end up really enjoying this experience also!
It does help to talk your guy prior to the session about why it is important to you to have pictures taken, and maybe consider making a date out of it! I have suggested to couples to make reservations at a nice restaurant afterwards, to close out a wonderful evening on a grand note!
Believe me when I tell the moms and dads reading this thread, that I completely understand if you cannot make dinner reservations for after your photo session!! If you have little kids, lots of snacks, water, a little bribery, and lots of grace should do the trick instead!
Planning a family session is A LOT OF WORK. I get it. So let me help you…
First, rest assured knowing that I completely understand how much time and effort and thought went into your preparations, and that getting the crew out the door on time is a miracle in itself!!
Second, keep in mind that I do provide an extensive Style Guide to clients that will walk you through these preparations!! So hopefully most of your questions will be answered before you even start to shop for outfits.
Third, remember that I challenge you to think in terms of “coordinating”, versus “matching”. Consider what color palette would fit your family best, and let that be your foundation.
Lastly, I always recommend that mom picks out her outfit first. I understand that that can be counter-intuitive, but it’s very important, and sets the stage for coordinating the rest of the crew!!
Remember, that when booking a full session you will have enough time for one outfit change!!! It is standard for clients to choose one (or two!) formal and sophisticated outfit(s), as well as a casual or special occasion outfit!
(For example: a few clients in Germany used to choose to wear a timeless outfit first, followed by traditional German outfits as their secondary special occasion outfit!)
This is completely up to you! But it’s nice to have options and the opportunity to switch things up, if desired!
In conclusion, you have the reigns when it comes to choosing your timeless outfit(s) for your session!!
I created this guide with you in mind, to hopefully help alleviate the stress that sometimes accompanies booking, in terms of figuring out what to wear!
At the end of the day, no matter the outfits or location choices, you are going to have beautiful images and an amazing experience, and that is what is my top priority is for you, too!