What to Wear to a Photoshoot – Hint: Not Matching White Shirts

photography by Carrie Anne White Portrait Photographer in Loveland Fort Collins Northern Colorado

So you’ve booked a photo session with your favorite photographer. Maybe you’ve had a consultation, you are prepared in terms of when to show up, when payment is due, where your shoot will take place, and what style your photographer typically presents. But have you considered what to wear to your session? Clothing might be a top concern for some, but many still neglect to consider what they will wear during the moments they plan to capture, display for a lifetime, or pass on to loved ones long after. Determining what to wear to a photoshoot doesn’t need to cause you stress, but you should include it as part of your preparation for the session.

What NOT to wear to a photoshoot

Needless to say, your photos will outlast your current obsession with “PINK” sweatshirts, or your favorite ice cream parlor in Myrtle Beach. So I highly recommend you skip the baseball caps and hoodies with logos, brands, cartoons, or public figures. This goes for children as well–your little princess might look incredibly adorable in her Frozen shirt, but do you really want to memorialize a free advertisement for a disney movie above your mantle? Do you want to look back on that time in your child’s life and see not only your child’s smiling face, but the animated face of her fleeting disney idol just 5 inches below hers?

Other than obvious brands, logos, or advertisements, a big no-no for your attire is a busy pattern or color. Your favorite everyday shirt might be one with every color in the rainbow in a plaid pattern, but I can guarantee that won’t look as amazing in a family photo as it does in your full-length mirror. Certain photographers might recommend plaid, stripes, or bright colors for the occasional shoot. Even still, your photographer will take into consideration how all of the pieces of clothing will compliment each other. Photographers plan the theme and style of the shoot to ultimately reflect their brand (yes, photographers have a brand). Leave behind your small stripes, high contrast patterns, and safety orange hoodie.  These types of patterns can create a dizzying and unflattering pattern in photos.

The final piece of clothing faux pas for you is clothing that is simply too casual. I’m not saying you should show up in your best tuxedo and evening gown, although there certainly shoots where that is appropriate. But if you’re paying for professional photos you may as well dress up at least a little bit as opposed to what you might wear while you marathon Netflix in your bedroom. Specifically, stay away from tank tops with bra straps showing, white tees with subtle pit stains, strapless tops, sweatpants, hats, and jerseys. Sure, there are exceptions to every rule. But unless you’ve specifially discussed/planned otherwise, you can rule these types of clothing out. And definitely don’t wear all matching white tee shirts with jeans. Not only does it border on too casual, but it’s just downright unoriginal and overplayed at this point.

What to wear to a photoshoot

So you can’t wear your favorite sports shirt, your go-to political sweatshirt, or your most comfortable pair of sweatpants. What does that leave to wear? Fortunately, you have a lot of options!

What you wear will depend on the time of year, the setting, the occasion, and ultimately your unique personality. It’s always a safe bet to be in touch with your photographer about your photo shoot outfits, but if no direction is specifically given, here are some general ideas about what to wear to a photoshoot:Keep jewelry simple, or skip it altogether.

  • Stick to solid, muted colors–earthy tones, muted gem tones, monochrome, beige, and taupe.
  • Low contrast outfits (if your shirt is pure white, go for lighter color bottom pieces.)
  • Flatter your figure–don’t wear clothes that are entirely too tight or loose, or clothes that accentuate your insecurities. (It is not the photographer’s responsibility or desire to give you a new silhouette in photoshop for all of your photos.) Wear something you feel beautiful in.
  • Wear quarter-sleeves if weather permits.
  • Dress in long skirts, pants, or dresses. (Skirts and dresses will look best at or below the knee)
  • Wear your hair how you like it, but typically stay away from ponytails.
  • Coordinate your clothing–in group photos, try to keep everyone on the same page and color palette of 2-4 colors. For example, have everyone wear grey tops, beige bottoms, and brown shoes. Better yet, mix it up within the same palette so you look like you go together. Did you have custom shirts made for your family photos? Perfect!

    What to wear to a photoshoot by Colorado Portrait Photographer Carrie Anne White, based out of Fort Collins and Loveland
    Still wondering what to wear to a photoshoot? This family ordered coordinating tee shirts for their photos!


At this point you should have some idea of what to wear to a photoshoot, but you may still be wondering what my reasoning is for all of these pieces of advice. All of these suggestions are given for the same reason: to draw attention to your faces and not your clothing. The best clothing choices are the ones that don’t draw attention before your face. These aren’t guidelines to make your life harder or micromanage how you choose to appear. However, they are safe bets if you want your portraits to represent you or your family across time. Trust me, your portraits will be beautiful even if your clothes bore you.

Keep on the lookout for more photography tips from the blog page!

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