one of the most common questions i get from my clients is: “what to wear?” while i feel this is a strongly personal decision, there are most definitely some guidelines i can offer to help make your outfit selection a little more productive!

let me share a few example photos, to give you some visual context. let’s begin with a few of my own family photos (courtesy of link nelson photography), so i can walk you through my very basic process of selection, based on my own style, (but as you read along, i want you to start thinking about your own style)…

IMG_0441i would say our family dresses comfortably casual 90% of the time, so we don’t tend to stray too far from that in our photos. but i do like to dress things up a bit with some simple accessories…a great pair of boots, a neutral necklace, a few layers, and of course baby suspenders 😉

IMG_0598you’ll see that i chose fairly neutral tones, with just a couple of understated pops of color. notice they don’t match, but they coordinate. that’s my NUMBER ONE tip! don’t set out thinking, “how can we all match?” instead, think of a color palette that makes you happy.

if you were going to print a giant canvas of your family to hang in the living room, is it going to look good in your living room? what color is your sofa? what color are your walls? do you thrive in a surrounding exploding with color, or do you prefer a neutral setting? these are the kinds of things that can help you decide on a color direction.

IMG_1221tip NUMBER TWO: think about your backgrounds. are you shooting a holiday card photo amidst the fall foliage, in a winter wonderland, or are you heading to the city for a colorful urban setting? this should impact the colors you settle on. i don’t want you to blend in with your background, i want you to stand out! here are a few examples of very different backgrounds, where the clients’ attire provides a nice contrast to their setting.

20150517-DSC_2521DSC_221203DSC_0866while i personally do enjoy bold colors, you can still add that little bit of “pop” without going over the top…here are a few more slightly muted palettes, that still offer some nice contrast.

DSC_623405DSC_4217tip NUMBER THREE: when it comes to patterns, don’t go crazy! do your best to stick to solid colors, and if you’re going to throw in a pattern (on a scarf, or on one of your kiddos for instance), try to pick a big, bold pattern! it will be a nice complement to the group if the rest of you wear neutral or solid colors.

14this holds especially true for plaid…i find it is one of the more common choices among men and boys – which is perfectly fine! – but i say the bigger the better! try to choose larger square patterns, or a plaid with stark contrast (as pictured below), otherwise they tend to get washed out or muddled and often look poor in the final photos.

DSC_5929tip NUMBER FOUR: don’t forget your feet! i’d hate for you to spend all that time and energy on your outfit, and then have you throw on a pair of grimy shoes. complete that outfit that you worked so hard to coordinate! and ladies, i know it seems like a great opportunity to bust out those stilettos…but ask yourself this – will you be walking around for an hour or more during your shoot? will you be trekking down trails, through weeds…does that sound like fun? will you still be smiling at the end of your shoot? i (personally) often shoot really tight shots of my clients, so there is a pretty decent chance that your shoes might only end up in just a few photos, will it have been worth it? (if the answer is still yes, that’s ok! just make sure you consider it…or at least bring a pair of comfy shoes to change into).

DSC_0109DSC_0064i hope this post will help you get excited and inspired to pick your photo session wardrobe. if you’re still doubting your decisions, please feel free to run them by me! i’m more than happy to lend an opinion if you shoot me a snapshot of your ideas at 🙂 i look forward to discovering what you’ve selected for your shoot!

Join the Conversation


  1. Love love love your families session. You have such a cute family! I love your style and you are spot on with your advise!

  2. What a great and informative post! It really gives such great advice and pointers to everyone heading into a photo shoot!

  3. I love the image that is posted to the top, because I look exactly like him when trying to figure out what I’m going to wear pretty much every day. Haha!

  4. Love when photographers post advice on what to wear! I totally agree! And I love the ‘don’t forget about your feet’ section, shoes are always something I forget about!

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