What to wear for your photo shoot

by | Apr 8, 2021 | Lifestyle & Portraits, Portrait Information | 1 comment

You may be pleased to know that I don’t plan on dictating to you and your family what you should wear to your studio session, but I do get asked for advice a lot!  A few words to help guide you on what might be best to wear during different kinds of our photography sessions. 

Is it very important?

Briefly – It doesn’t matter! I want photographs of you, your family, your relationships and interactions… we are not here to do a fashion shoot… it is not about the clothes.  Despite such an affirmation, I can also promise that by putting a little extra forethought into your clothing choices, you can also make your resulting photographs just that little bit more special! 

The General Don’ts

  • No heavily logo’d items (preferably no visible branding of any kind) 
  • Avoid small stripes or intricate patterns – solid colours are a better bet in general – but plaid can look great!
  • Clothes that feel uncomfortable, ride-up or that you cannot move in will be a distraction during a shoot
  • Fluorescent colours do not usually work well in photographs
  • Be aware of wearing things that are too baggy and vastly oversized for you, this could make you look bigger in the photographs. 
  • Wear clothes that are sympathetic to self any perceived ‘problem areas’ that you may have. For example if you are concerned about your upper arms, you could wear a top with longer sleeves and will likely feel much more comfortable. 

The General Do’s

  • Think about your clothing at least a week before your portrait session, it gives you a much better chance of being calm, prepped and looking great
  • Your clothing needs to be comfortable, something that you feel confident and comfortable in – you always look better when you feel good about yourself. Not to mention that adults are often expected to get onto the studio floor for great family images and extra variety.
  • Choose clothing that reflects your taste and personality 
  • Generally I recommend classic over ‘trendy’, that doesn’t necessarily mean formal, but anything too much ‘in fashion’ can also fall ‘out of fashion’ fairly quickly and these images should last more than a lifetime. 
  • Communicate with everyone coming on the shoot so that your colours and choices will work well together (see recurrent theme below).
  • A simple, classic combination is always blue denims with off-white tops/shirts – if you are stuck for ideas, this one rarely fails! 
  • We can accommodate up to one outfit change during a studio session (this is also theoretically possible on location shoots, but can be tricky practically speaking!)


Additional consideration for girls under 5 years old – My lovely clients often want to photograph their lovely daughters in beautiful dresses and we utterly agree that dresses look great.  However, as we know, girls are generally as big fans of rough and tumble, racing and silly-ness as boys and dresses can ride up with activity.  If dresses are important, I would suggest bringing an outfit change with you, this way, we can do some classic and still shots with the dresses and more active shots in something else. A couple of things that can work beautifully as a compromise are either playsuits or a tunic with leggings. 

The addition of props can be great in photographs, I love it when they are used to represent someones passion and personality. Props can also be a great way of engaging ‘less enthusiastic’ members of the family, so your teenager might acquiesce a little more willingly if they can bring their skateboard for a few shots. Or perhaps, your littlest family member might have a magical stuffed toy that they just cannot live without, including these much-loved items can mean the images mean even more to you in the future. 

A recurrent theme 

I often get asked if families need to “match” in a session.   The simple answer is no, anything “too matched” could result in the images looking a little twee. I cannot deny how much better images can look if families incorporate subtle themes to their clothing choices though, just a little gentle coordination of colours and/or styles can work wonders. For example choosing two or three colours and asking everyone to incorporate these into their outfit choices just helps to subtly ‘tie’ everyone together in the resulting photographs, so for an Autumn shoot family might think about reds, oranges and browns across their outfits. 

Don’t forget to bear in mind that not everyone may have an appropriate item, so the earlier your family know what they need, the better chance you have of co-ordinating those outfits. 

Family Studio Session 

We can keep this nice and simple as we have already discussed most of the key points, as studio sessions follow all of the usual suggested Do’s and Don’ts! Slightly classic, formal over casual, comfortable and when in doubt for the classic denim/off-white combo. If you have a few adults and only small babies with you, it can be a great idea to put the babies in lighter/brighter clothing, so that they are Loveland prominent in the frame. 

A word of warning, we do tend to go bare-foot for studio sessions, shoes look horrid, never match and toes can get trodden on!  Please don’t worry, the photos are not ‘of your feet’ (for some reason, a common concern!) and pictures do look better this way. 

Outdoor Session 

I have specific guides which go into more details for colour suggestions for some of our most popular location shoots, including autumnal shoots, bluebells, poppies and lavender, but some general advice applies to all location shoots. These have been designed as a colour palette to give much more specific suggestions about great outfit choices for different locations, themes and natural events. 

Dress appropriately for the weather, you will struggle to look comfortable and relaxed in your photos if you spend your session shivering with cold.  If the weather is predicted chilly and you want to wear something more revealing, why not bring a big, warm coat to wear in-between pictures.  

Think about your footwear – Our outdoor shoots are usually pretty active, whether create the shots with little games of tag, races or piggy-backs – they are active in nature.  We are always on trails and uneven ground and I ask my clients to wear something suitable for their safety and comfort. 

Touches of colour can easily be added on location shoots, especially at colder times of the year – scarves, hats and gloves are easy ways to boost that ‘recurrent theme’ idea that we touched on earlier. 

Be bold

I love bright colours myself, I think they pop against the white of the studio and the right shade of bright can make location images pop right off the wall, so if you are considering going a shade braver for your family photographs, I utterly applaud it! If you really want to go for it and have ideas of elaborate designs and costumes, it is only fair to tell you that I would be annoyingly enthusiastic about this. 

Getting Inspiration
If you are still a little unsure, why not browse a site like Pinterest. This site and other sites like it allow you to easily search through images of other families enjoying their own photo sessions and see which looks you love, which looks that you think your family will be happy wear. This also allows you to search specifically for similar shoots to your own, ie: family photography shoot autumn, you can even share your ideas with the rest of the family ensuring that everyone can be on the same page for the portrait shoot.

I hope that this has helped you to decide what to wear for your photo session! I am also always happy to help,
just in touch here with any questions



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