I get this question all the time from clients: “What should I wear?”
I think every photographer probably has slightly different suggestions or “rules”, but the following is a list of guidelines I put together for women (mainly because I cannot claim to be an expert in men’s attire.)
11 Wardrobe Rules for Photo Shoots
- First and foremost, take some time and think about how you want to be perceived in these pictures. This is the most important piece of this decision. Want to be perceived as professional? Powerful? Warm and fuzzy? Artistic and creative? Seductive or flirtatious? Comfortable and casual? Glamorous? Figure out how you want to come across, and it will narrow down your outfit search.
- When it comes to color: try choosing 1-2 neutral colors and one accent color (or 2 accent colors, if they complement each other well.) Neutral colors include: black, off-white, gray, khaki, beige, denim.
- Accessories can be slimming A long necklace or scarf to lengthen the torso, a belt to define the waist, an open jacket or sweater — all can be flattering to any body shape.
- Don’t dress yourself or your group all in 1 color.
- Save busy patterns and bold colors for accents – scarf, jewelry, belt, headband, or shirt under a jacket/sweater (so just a little strip of color shows through.) The eye will be drawn to the bright color/pattern first, so keep that in mind.
- Avoid pure white, especially if you are having your picture taken against a white or bright background. Pure white bounces light so effectively, it can end up not looking right in pictures. (There are exceptions, of course.)
- Avoid fabrics that are flimsy, thin, faded, wrinkle-prone, or prone to static.
- Choose clothes that make you feel comfortable. Put the outfit on, then try sitting, squatting, bending, raising your arms, etc – make sure it is comfortable, not restrictive, fits well, and is not bunching up on you.
- Choose undergarments that do their job well. You want everything to be in its place, if you know what I mean. 😉
- Choose clothing that covers what you want covered. If you are going for professional, you will probably want to avoid outfits that are too revealing (depending on your profession.) Don’t like the way your arms look? Opt for something with sleeves, or a shawl/wrap/jacket to cover them.
- Choose clothing that hugs what you want hugged. People assume baggy = flattering, but that is not always the case. I have had clients who looked much bigger in their pictures than in real life…. because their baggy shirt was much wider than they were.
Keep in mind that rules were meant to be broken (except the one about the fabric, seriously, don’t ask me to photoshop out wrinkles.) You do not have to follow this advice, and your goals may be completely different than most. Don’t be afraid to show up as YOURSELF in your pictures, convention be damned.