What to wear for your session is one of the biggest decisions you will have to make. This can be a tough one! Whatever you do, don't wait until the last minute. If you are able to make your outfit selections in advance, you and I are able to work together and plan your entire session for success. What you wear can help set the tone for the session and the location we select to shoot at may also be influenced by your style choice. Here are ten tips to help you out!
1. Don't wait until the last minute.
Well, I've already touched on this one in the intro because it is so huge! A lot of people order online nowadays and you don't want to wait until the last minute and not be able to get what you want or have to pay rush shipping fees. You also want to be able to let me know what you will be wearing in advance so we can pick a location that suits the style of clothing you select. Your wardrobe, plus outfit selection, in addition to prop selection are what make your session come together and look polished and professional. The last thing I want to have happen is have you show up with an all pink wardrobe and we are at a rustic location with a red barn! Help me, help you by selecting your oufits in advance of your appointment so we can talk through the other details together that will make your session a total success.
2. For group and couples sessions, start with Mom.
It is easy to pick out kids outfits - they look good in anything! The cut isn't nearly as important on a child as it is on a woman. I suggest starting with the Mom/woman's clothing and then selecting child(rens) or significant others outfits second. Lets face it, we women are picky. If we don't feel good in what we have on, we aren't going to be confident and it will show in the portraits. So pick what flatters the ladies first, and then move onto spouses and children.
3. Pick your outfits based on figure flattering cuts.
I know a lot of people pick outfits based on what is popular or something they saw someone else wearing they like, but you should pick your outfit based on what flatters your body shape best and makes you feel confident and beautiful. Decide what body shape you are and look up what cuts work best for your figure. In general, make sure what you are wearing is fitted properly, not baggy or bulky, which adds dimension. Anything that emphasizes your curves is a plus! And guys, don't think the same doesn't apply to you! Wearing properly fitted clothing makes a huge difference - baggy clothing never photographs well! The same is true for children as well - don't come in ill fitting clothing because you bought a size up so they could wear it longer. It looks ill fitting and pictures are forever, so wear what fits.
4. Coordinate, don't match.
It is super easy to just put everyone in khakis and a white or black shirt, I get it. The images will still be beautiful, but they lack character and dimension. Also, when posing together you kind of become subject to the "Blob Syndrome" - where everyone just meshes together into one big giant shape and gets lost. When everyone wears different clothing that goes together but is figure flattering and has different patterns and textures, each individual can show their personality and look their best. Also, make sure to mix and match solids and patterns (and make them different patterns!). When everyone wears all stripes, you still get the same Blob Syndrome effect and your eye just can't quite focus and make sense of what is going on. Each individual becomes lost. Pick a color palette, mix and match solids and patterns, and you will add a whole other dimension to your group portraits.
5. Layer, layer, layer and think in textures!
Layers and tectures also add dimension and interest. It also makes you look more polished and professional. Adding jackets, vests, necklaces, hats, etc. makes a huge difference. Also, materials that aren't flat (aka a cotton shirt vs. a knit sweater) also adds dimension and interest. The one thing I tell people to be aware of is adding bulk when you add accessories. I'm going to go ahead and put it out there - I don't much care for scarves in photos. It covers your neckline, which adds thickness to your body and makes you look heavier than you really are. Don't think that by covering up, you'll look better.
6. Consider location and season.
You should either pick your outfits based on the location you want to shoot at, or your location based on the outfits you want to wear. What you wear should make sense in the context of the location and season you are photographed. Consider the colors at the location as well as the mood the location sets. Think urban vs. rustic. Green grass vs. brick buildings. How does the environment effect the way you will dress? Also consider whether you want to be formal or informal. One tip on informal though - you still want to look like you are polished, so dont' make it look like you are spending a day hanging out around the house because that is what you are comfortable in. You should still look like you took time and effort to get ready and have professional portraits taken.
7. Consider your color combinations carefully.
What colors will look best at the location you are photographing at? Think about what colors are already present or the props you may want to incorporate (green grass? red barns? brown wood? neutrals? etc.) What you wear should also coordinate with the location as far as color is concerned. Lets do a quick lesson in color theory about what looks good together!
Complementary colors are across from each other on the color wheel. They provide a vibrant contrast to one another.
Split Complementary colors use the two colors to either side of the main color. The color contrast is a little less vibrant.
Monochromatic colors are all varying shades of the same main color. This creates a lack of contrast, but creates calmness.
Triadic colors are evenly spaced on the color wheel. It is less contrasty than complementary color schemes.
Analogous color schemes use any three colors that are in a row on the color wheel. These also create a sense of calmness. These types of colors are often found in nature and are pleasing to the eye.
Tetradic colors use two sets of complementary colors that form a rectangle on the color wheel. These are a very bold type of color combination.
Neturals - you know these ones. White, cream, gray, tan - they go with everything! An all neutral color scheme is very relaxing.
So after that quick bit of color theory, how do you make this work for your session? Take 3-4 colors, a neutral, and add 3-4 patterns and textures. Lay them out together and then ask yourself if they are a good blend of color, pattern, and texture. Also, make sure you don't have varying shades such as a lime green with a pastel yellow (so don't mix highly saturated color with dull color). Don't dress each person in one of the colors - try to mix and match the 3 colors between all the people with a little bit represented in each outfit. Also, some colors look better during different seasons. Light and bright colors photograph good in the spring/summer, while rich, deep colors photograph better in the fall/winter. Make sure that everything everyone wears adds to the cohesiveness. I have a Pinterest board that I made with outfits and color combos - if you're struggling, just ask and I am happy to share it with you. Here are a couple pulled from there to give you an idea
8. Avoid text and logos.
You don't want to look like an advertisement for a brand name, so avoid large text and logos on the clothing you wear. Anything with cute sayings doesn't photograph the best because the viewer is more interested in reading it, than looking at everyone's faces.
9. Dress from head to toe.
Please make sure that your shoes aren't distracting! If you have on a dressy outfit, you should wear dress shoes, not athletic shoes. If you have on hot pink nail polish, make sure it matches your clothing and that it isn't chipping off. I personally recommend not having anything but neutral nail colors on when getting photographed as they can be very distracting. Don't forget to wear proper under attire so that bra straps aren't showing, etc.
10. Hangers and Baggies!
Make sure your clothes are ironed and bring them on hangers. Don't worry about dressing the little ones until you arrive for your session. Put your accessories in bags and hang them with your outfits the night before your session so you don't forget anything!