Having a photoshoot with your partner or family is an amazing experience that you will remember for a long time however sometimes the idea of having your photo taken can cause more stress than excitement. One of those stress provoking ideas is thinking about what to wear. Do you have to go and buy a new outfit? Do the family all need to wear matching outfits? Do lighter colours look better than darker colours? Well don’t worry because I will give you the answers to all these questions and more in the following 10 tips so that you can relax and enjoy your next photo session.
1. Coordinate colours but don’t match
Gone are the days where families will go out and buy matching outfits for a photo. It is much better to stick to a general colour scheme of around 2 or 3 colours throughout than to wear the exact same colours. Now don’t get me wrong, matching colours are definitely important however you don’t have to worry about matching your colours exactly. Two similar shades of one colour will always style better than two differing colours. When it comes to actually matching colours though I always say that less is more. What do I mean by that? Let’s take the colour blue for example. Choosing blue as your main colour doesn’t mean that everyone should wear a blue top, instead maybe half the family wear blue and the others wear an off white. You could also integrate your blues in different ways where perhaps half the family wear blue jeans and the rest wear blue shirts. Pair those blues with more subtle colours like Tan and White and suddenly you have a great coordinating colour scheme made for the perfect photos. In terms of what colours to choose, muted or pastel colours are always best (eg. light blue, pink, tan, mauve and navy) since bright colours can overpower the main focus of the photos.
2. Avoid Patterns & Stripes
Anyone who knows me would know that I am the biggest fan of patterned shirts and I love nothing more than a good pinstripe however when it comes to photography patterns and striped should generally be avoided. First and foremost, overly patterned clothing tends to steal the show, which is usually one of the reasons why we wear them however in your photoshoot the attention should be on the people and any clothes should just accentuate them rather than overpower them. How would you feel if your partner walked out of the bedroom in a dress or shirt that you knew was going to take everyone’s attention away from how perfectly you had just styled your hair. The other main issue with patterns, and more importantly stripes, is a phenomenon known as Moiré Patterns. This occurs when stripes on clothing interfere with the lines of pixels on screens or he lines of ink on printed art. You will often notice this on television when people wear a tight stripe and thin black lines start to appear across their clothing. Whilst this effect is able to be lessened in the editing stage of photo production, it is often unavoidable and as such thin stripes and patterns should be avoided. When it comes to large stripes though, go for your life. I think stripes are amazing so long as they don’t interfere with the photography.
3. add dimension
One way to really spruce up your photos is by adding dimension. No I don’t mean that your family should form a human pyramid, although if you want to that would make for a pretty unique photo, rather I mean choosing clothes that add extra dimension to your figure. One of the easiest ways to do this is to wear a flowy dress that may catch in the wind and blow out to the side, thus adding an extra layer into the photo. This looks especially flattering during an engagement session where the couple will be moving around a lot and coming up with dramatic and elegant poses. Another example is as easy as wearing a jacket or cardigan over the top of your shirt, which not only adds dimension to your outfit but also breaks up the solid colours and gives you opportunities to work with a wider colour scheme. As I spoke about before, the generic family photo all standing in a straight line looking down the barrel of the camera is rather outdated and most of the time just looks down right cringy. As such, adding layers to the photo through clothing is an easy way to combat this problem, resulting in more unique and timeless images.
4. incorporate fabrics and Textures
In addition to layering your clothing, you might also want to think about incorporating different fabrics and textures into your outfit. Photography really is the art of capturing light and so it is always important to think about how the clothes we are wearing either reflect or absorb light. One very common material that I always recommend wearing is wool since it usually doesn’t reflect light and therefore photographs very beautifully. Wool also acts as an excellent contrast to other materials like cotton or denim and adds an extra bit of dimension like we spoke about previously. By the same token, I often do not recommend wearing vinyl or leather since they are often very reflective and can cause unwanted highlights and reflections in your images. It really is all about understanding how a certain material will look in the sunlight and just because that silk or velvet garment may look flattering from your perspective, it may not always show up that way in a photograph.
5. wear the right size CLOTHING
Whilst oversized tops and dresses may be in style right now they can sometimes distort reality in photographs making people look disproportionate to their actual body shape. Depending on the focal length that the photographer is using and the angle at which they are shooting, oversized clothing can be less than flattering and this is something that we definitely want to avoid in your photos. The same can be true about clothing which is too tight or too small as well. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that you can’t hide anything on camera and this is definitely true when it comes to portraits. Shirts so tight that the buttons are bursting or straps that haven’t been adjusted properly can’t hide on camera and really do take away from the main focus of the image which is you and your lovely faces.
This doesn’t have to be limited to just earrings and a necklace, it could also be a scarf or a hat. Accessories add extra interest and detail to an outfit and in the case of photography they can often be used a pop of colour. If you and your partner are really struggling to find items in your wardrobe that match, maybe it just comes down to wearing a scarf that matches the colour of their pants or a tie which compliments their earrings. Those little details go a long way to making your photos look that much more cohesive. One thing that I will add here though is to make sure you are not going to far over the top. If you would not normally wear a top hat or massive hoop earrings, maybe consider whether you need to wear them today or will they just take away from the feeling and emotions in the photos.
7. Check your home decor
Now you may be asking, Mike why would I need to check my home decor when deciding what to wear to my engagement photoshoot? Initially it does sound like a rather silly proposition however I want you to consider where these photos are going to go after they are taken. They are going to be printed out and hung on your walls right? Or maybe they are going to be put in frames on your mantle or beside your bed? Wouldn’t it be a shame if you wore a bright red dress in your photos and then when you got the prints hung in your living room and they clashed with that Scandinavian style you have been cultivating for the last 3 years. Perhaps a light blue dress may have been a more complimentary colour option for the space. Or maybe your lounge room is set around a very industrial style were a pop of red would definitely be more fitting. Whatever the case may be, I would definitely recommend that you choose an outfit to compliment your home.
8. Consider the Photo shoot Location
Along with your home decor it’s often just as important, if not more so, to consider the landscape in which you will be having your photos taken. This is not so much to try and match with the environment, rather to make sure you stand out from it. Let us say for instance that you are having your family portraits done in the forest near your house. Well unless you want to go missing in your own photos, I would never recommend that anyone wear green, brown or even navy blues. Another example of this may be wearing a light blue shirt to your waterside portraits or those tan chinos on the beach. All of these colours directly clash with the backdrops which makes it very difficult for you to stand out. Whilst I would never recommend wearing bright colours in order to stand out, I would definitely not recommend wearing matching colours either.
9. Blacks are better than whites
Controversial title I know, however in my experience blacks are generally easier to photograph than whites. Whites will often blow out in a photo, especially in the daytime, which makes them very hard to photograph particularly when you are trying to concentrate on the skin tones which aren’t pure white. Generally I would always recommend light and airy colours like an off white or a cream rather than pure white itself, however if you would like to wear white just be sure to consider the material as well. Dark colours on the other hand often make faces stand out and really pop against a backdrop whilst never being too dark that it’s just a big blob on camera. So when it comes to blacks I say go for your life, just make sure that it fits within your colour scheme as having only one person in a large family wearing black is an easy way to draw attention.
10. Be Comfortable & be Yourself
The final and probably most important piece of advice that I could give you when deciding what to wear to your next photo shoot is to be comfortable and be yourself. All of the above points go out the window if you don’t feel comfortable in what you’re wearing or with the way you look. You honestly cannot hide your feeling in a photograph and so if you aren’t happy with the way you look or you feel in any way self conscious, that will come through in the photos and you will be even more disappointed with what you decided to wear. If your normal style is to wear a lot of leather or a lot of skin tight clothing then by all means wear that to the photo shoot because at the end of the day these are your photos and I, or any other photographer for that matter, would much rather capture you for you than a facade of someone you are pretending to be.
So that’s it, ten tips to help you dress for your next photo shoot. I certainly do hope that you feel more prepared than you were when you clicked on this article. However, if you do have any more questions either specifically about your upcoming session with me or just about styling in general I would love to hear from you via email or send me a message over on Instagram @mikejeffreyphotography