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Make or Break: How Your Outfit Choices Can Either Challenge or Champion Your Shoot


Cue the “What Not to Wear” theme song! I am dedicating a whole blog post to all the outfit-related tips I usually share with my clients, so that you can be fully prepared to ROCK your next photo session, and receive photos that you LOVE.
I have already had a handful of successful sessions so early in my career as a photographer, and there is one thing I always thought people would ask me immediately when booking a session, “What do you recommend I wear?” Well, surprise! I have not ONCE had a client ask me this question!
Now maybe it’s just me, and feel free to let me know if that’s the case, but when I know I’m about to have photos taken, I stand in my closet for an unhealthy amount of time filing through all my outfits, holding hangers of clothes in front of me in the mirror, trying on, taking off, and trying on again different outfits, all to find just the right one. If I’m really out of ideas, I phone a girl friend, or FaceTime her for help.

Luckily, my clients so far have chosen some GREAT outfits in their sessions. One particular client I want to highlight is the Engelbrecht family (pictured above). They hit just about every outfit “do” that I am going to mention. I want you to remember this image for now, because I am about to give you some of my top tips for choosing a great outfit that keeps photography in mind, so that you receive a gallery of images that you love and want to share over and over again!
The Don’ts:
1. Avoid super bright, bold colors. Bold colors tend to come out oversaturated, and it is more difficult to correct this in editing without losing the natural tones in the rest of the image. If you plan to wear a statement color, I recommend that it’s worn by the member that will want to pop the most (usually the bride for engagements, or a baby for family sessions).
2. Avoid red, orange, and green. Avoid black. These first few colors tend to cast an unnatural color onto your skin and face. And too much black in an outfit will make photos feel dark, heavy, and lose detail. Use discretion with this one.
3. Avoid intricate/detailed patterns. Not all patterns are a no-no, so if you’re unsure, take a dime out. If the pattern lines or dots are smaller than the dime, opt for a bolder print. (Alyssa and little Xander did a GREAT job at this in their outfits)
4. MEN: No open-toed shoes! (and yes, I do like to get full-body shots, so shoes do make a difference) Closed-toe is a more formal option, and can be a much less distracting choice of footwear, and… let’s face it… I doubt you’re planning to join your girl for a pedi before that shoot. 😉
5. Don’t twin. Couples, the goal is to coordinate, not match. Let your individual personalities shine, and add variety and visual interest to your images by choosing well-coordinated outfits! You should each stand out in your own unique way.
The Do’s:
1. Wear soft or neutral colors! My favorites are tans, beiges, blues, pinks, greys, whites, soft yellows, soft greens, etc.
2. Wear your confidence! I feel like this especially applies to the ladies, but certainly guys can benefit from this rule. It especially speaks to the fit of clothes. My suggested “measuring stick” for an outfit is the amount of time you spend in front of the mirror before leaving your home in it. If you are looking in the mirror, adjusting the angle of your body, pulling on the fabric, constantly adjusting elaborate details like belts or scarves or long necklaces, then it’s probably not the right outfit. The goal is comfortable and confident! The more confident you feel in an outfit, the more confident and bright your smiles will be for my camera. Do you look at yourself once in the mirror and think, “I look good!” without any adjustments? Then you are wearing your confidence! Go with that outfit!
3. Embrace movement. I love, love, LOVE long, flowy skirts or dresses! They add so much movement and femininity for you ladies. But if you prefer a more casual shoot, ways to embrace this “do” is opting for long, loose cardigans, a pair of dangly earrings, or wearing your hair down.
4. Treat yourself. Girls, get a mani (and pedi if you are wearing peep-toe shoes), get your hair styled, buy some fresh makeup or wash those brushes for a clean application. For engagement sessions, I even recommend going to a makeup artist! If you feel like you look your best, your posing and smiles will show it.
5. Consider an outfit backup/change. You will get a lot of variety out of your session if you bring a second outfit along! I especially recommend this for engagement sessions. If you do plan to use this tip, come to your session wearing your fancy outfit, and bring your casual, comfy outfit to change into half-way through the session.
These rules are not written in stone by any means. I wouldn’t be a good photographer if I wasn’t prepared for you creative rebels (I really do love your enthusiasm!), or the clients that want to express themselves in other ways. These are just some easy, simple changes you can make in your outfit choice that helps a session run as smooth as possible and lets your natural self shine through! I hope these tips are helpful for those of you prepping for your photo session.
P.S. Still struggling? Here are my favorite budget-friendly stores and boutiques to help you find the perfect outfit for your next session!
Thanks for reading, and happy closet hunting!
Xx Emily

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