What to Wear Guide
I've poured every ounce of knowledge into this guide and hope you're able to take away some good information. Ultimately, this is just a guide. I don't want you feeling limited in your clothing choices after reading this. This is YOUR session. BE YOURSELF. If wearing a clown costume makes you feel like yourself, then you better show up in a clown costume. Even if you don’t take any of the advice I’ve given, we’re still going to get amazing photos for you, cross my heart.
Hold on tight, here we go!
Choose clothing that make sense for your location
What kind of shoes do you typically wear to the beach? My guess? Sandals. And even after you get to the beach, I'm guessing you kick those bad boys off and run barefoot. The same rules apply for photos. If we're going to the mountains, you're not going to want to show up in wedges and a prom dress. It'll likely look really out of place (and you could roll your ankle?!). I'd say the only exception to this rule is Bridals. Unless we're doing an epic cliff side Bridal session, stick with what works best for your location.
Ditch the bright colors
This is just as important as dressing for your location. The colors you wear play a HUGE role in how your photos turn out. Light reflects off EVERYTHING, including your clothing. Rather than explaining color theory and light, just trust me when I say to stay away from bright, flashy colors.
Stick with neutrals and earthy tones.
And neutral doesn't only mean black, white, grey and tan.
Every color has neutral or muted tone. Here are some examples:
One last color tip: Unless you have dark or olive skin, avoid wearing all shades of pink and orange. The result is similar to you looking like the Pink Panther or Garfield. And nobody wants that.
Pick your prints/patterns wisely
I love a good floral print. Heck, I love all prints. They just don't always photograph well. If you're hell-bent on wearing a print (like I usually am), go for it, just consider a few things:
- The larger the print, the more of a distraction it tends to be (this also applies to logos). Let's be real, you hired me to take photos of YOU, not your shirt. If you're wearing something with large print, the eye will automatically be drawn to the print instead of you.
- If we're going to a location that has a lot of color or varying landscape, adding a print can be a huge distraction to the photo. Imagine wearing a floral print in a field of wild flowers. Things will look really busy and your eyes aren't going to know what to look at first. But if we're shooting out at the Salt Flats, where there's not a lot going on and the color of the landscape is really neutral, rock that floral print!
- Don't mix patterns. I personally feel like this rule isn't flexible.
Mixing prints and patterns in real life = 2 thumbs up
Mixing prints and patterns for photos = most of the thumbs down
Remember we want to focus on the emotional output and YOU when looking at the photo, not your stripes and flannel and polk-a-dots.
Wear pieces with texture & movement
If you're sad about the idea of not wearing all the prints/patterns, consider wearing pieces with texture and movement! Texture can add a lot warmth a 2-D image, even more so if you layer! Think chunky knits and waffle textures, or a ruffle here or there.
Clothes that move with you look natural and add so much life to photos! Picture a loose-fitting cardigan or dress caught in the wind. It makes everything come to life.
Also keep in mind: stiff clothes mean you're going to be really uncomfortable. And that will translate in your expressions during our session.
Complementary vs Matching
Complementary is good, matching is bad. What's the difference?
- Complementary is the variety of colors, tones, textures, accessories and patterns in your clothing work together, cohesively. Allowing the eye a distinction from each individual and their background.
- Matching is choosing a "theme" color(s) and carrying it through everyone's outfits.
When you match with the others, everyone blends together, looking kind of like a blob. This also applies to wearing similar shades. If everyone is wearing light colored shirts (example: white & light grey), you won't be able to see where one person starts or ends.
Accessories? YES PLEASE.
Using accessories is the perfect opportunity to express your style! I’ll go over good vs bad accessories, and why.
Hats & Scarves
Why: Simple hats, without logos (or very minimal logos) and simple scarves add a ton of personality. And, once again, a great way to express your personal style, if these are things you typically wear. If Dad always wears a baseball cap, let him rock it during our session (plus, I'm pretty sure it'll earn you brownie points!). I may just ask him to turn it backward for some shots.
Why: Jewelry in small doses are the small details that add, allowing you to express personal style. It helps in reflecting who you are. Small pieces also don’t distract from the emotion in a photo, which is something we’re working hard to achieve.
Why: A belt is another small piece that can tie an outfit together, adding personality. Avoid wearing anything with an extra-large buckle.
Why: You’re probably thinking, “Seriously? You can’t see my face!” Picture yourself driving in your car at sunset and the sun is glaring in your eyes. What do you do? Pull out your sunglasses. Now, what time did we book your session for? SUNSET. Throwing your shades on for a bit during our session, while the sun burns your retina is totally natural. Now, this may not be the case for every location. But, bring them and we can see what feels organic!
Chunky Jewelry & “Statement” Pieces
Why: Once again, big pieces (like large prints and patterns) are going to be a huge distraction from the emotion in a photo and tend to be a focal point.
Why: I think this one always surprises people, but leave your watch at home. Watches are in the category of “Statement Pieces”. They are almost always bulky and a huge eye sore. Especially in photos wear hands are touching a face. Your eyes will be drawn to the watch and not the face of the person the hands are touching.
Too Much Jewelry
Why: Just because you get the go ahead on jewelry doesn’t mean you pile it on. Do your best to keep your look as simple as possible. If you show up to a session in the mountains, draped in diamonds, you’ll look very out of place.
Props? Depends, but mostly no.
When I think of props I think of people holding chalk board signs with an announcement/last name written on it or dragging out an old antique sofa to a field. Those are the props I avoid. They’re unnatural. If we use props, they need to feel like they fit the environment. Let's go over good props.
Why: I think this one is pretty obvious. It’s a simple piece that adds to a photo. It gives us an opportunity to let you sit down and snuggle up or to wrap it around you. If you want to bring a blanket, make sure it’s pretty simple in pattern and neutral in color.
Why: After the sun sets, let’s get a fire going and you guys can snuggle up. The way people congregate around a fire is cozy and natural and translates well in a photograph.
Why: Because people really do this, all the time. Especially moms. We pack everything in our diaper bags. Pulling out food at any given moment for our little ones is a normal thing. Want to pack a sunset picnic and do a session in the mountains? Heck yes, let’s do it!
Motorcycle or Car
Why: When in motion, they bring photos to life. They also allow us to switch up perspective in photos.
Why: Bringing your pets is always a good idea. They don’t allow you to feel stiff and nervous. They force you out of your comfort zone and add life and motion to a photo. There are some situations I would not recommend pets:
- If your pet doesn’t do well around strangers. I, of course, am a stranger, but there may be people at our location too.
- If you have little kids. Unless your pet is trained and very obedient, I’d say leave them at home. You’re going to be running around playing with your kids, trying to keep track of your pet could end up being overwhelming.
Casual over Dressy
Not sure how formal you should dress?
Here’s a hint: always, always keep it casual.
The only exception is a formal Bridal session.
Guys, if collared shirts aren’t your thing, GREAT. DON’T WEAR THEM. Show up in a t-shirt or henley or flannel. Ladies, don’t put a dress on just because it’s time for photos. If you’re a t-shirt and ripped jeans kind of gal, you better show up that way.
People have a tendency to go out and buy super nice clothes for photos, but I recommend to look in your closet first. Ask yourself “What’s my go-to outfit?” Now, wear THAT or a newer version of that (if you insist on going shopping for our session).
That was a lot.
Like I mentioned before, this is just a guideline. The most import thing, above all else, is that you're comfortable and able to be yourself.
If you have ANY questions, shoot them my way. If you can't decide on what to wear, text me photos of your ideas. Heck, even bring one or two shirts to our session (you may have to change in the open or on the side of the road), I'd love to help out, however I can!