What to Wear

August 26, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

The Look

As a photographer, my goal is to capture the essence of a person in a beautiful photo that stands the test of time. The very best results are achieved in a comfortable environment that allows the person to be themselves.  One of the most exciting and creative aspects of the process is deciding what look you want to portray; however, the infinite inspirations available can be overwhelming.  The approach below is designed to make that process a breeze. 


Color: Choose Your Palette

Pick a palette of 3-4 colors. Let this be your starting place. Think in terms of tones: blue tones, earth tones, neutrals, pastels, etc. Everyone in the family can express their own sense of style within the chosen color palette, and the whole group will coordinate beautifully.


Use the color wheel

Using the color wheel will help you decide what clothes will look good in the chosen photography location. There are many ways to use the color wheel when deciding what to wear for photos, but one way is to use complementary colors. For example, in the color wheel, yellow and purple are directly opposite from one another so are considered complementary. Using those two colors (both in the location and attire) will create beautiful results.


Choose neutral clothing

Tip from Leslie Crane: “If you have no idea what colors to wear for photos, you can’t go wrong with neutrals: cream, gray, and tan. It is pretty hard to mess that up and looks good in almost every setting, especially dried-grass fields which are readily available in the fall. The result is a beautiful monochromatic look. The soft neutrals always bring the focus back to the people in the photos. This is a timeless look and easy to pull together. Muted tones look beautiful together in a family picture and ensure the focus remains on the faces and not the clothing. 


Pick a statement piece

Choose one statement outfit with a few colors in it and use that to work off of for the rest of the family’s outfits.  Mom choosing her outfit first, then selecting for the rest of her family with complimentary styles and colors is a great strategy. We always want families to coordinate and not be matchy-matchy. 


Coordinate: Don’t Match

Gone are the days of everyone in the family wearing the same style and color.   Think about the launch of a clothing designers’ new line.  They will highlight various shapes and styles but will always have a cohesive look. 


Variety of styles 

Even though it may be tempting to pick up two versions of that amazing button-down shirt for the boys, grab one and  look for a different style and fabric in similar color tones.  When thinking about how to mix it up, think about collar/no collar, short sleeves/long sleeves, sleeves down/sleeves rolled up, jacket/no jacket, shirt tucked in/shirt not tucked in, crew-neck Tee/v-neck Tee. 


Consider textures and patterns 

When thinking about texture, choose different ones that will give photos some interest such as lace, corduroy, denim, and knits. Ensure the textures used are cohesive.  You wouldn’t want someone wearing a heavy corduroy and the person beside them in a light summer linen.   When picking patterns, look for that nice middle ground.  Very small patterns can be difficult for the camera to pick up and seem too busy.  There is actually a technical term called morie that creates a haze over extremely thin pin stripes.   The other extreme would be an overly bold and vivid pattern that takes the attention away from the subject.  A moderately sized pattern that isn’t overly bold is the goal.  You will also want to limit the number of people in that pattern.  


Mix it Up

Your photo shoot will usually last an hour or more with hundreds of photos taken.  Even with various poses and backgrounds, you can run the risk of growing tired of the same look.  Changing outfits is worth the time but you can also mix thing up without a full wardrobe change.  You’d be surprised how much an accessory can add to a photo and create variety.   



One perfectly placed accessory can make all the difference.  A cute hat or scarf can change the look in an instant.  So can the addition of a jacket or vest.  As with anything, moderation is the goal.  Too many accessories can take away from our beautiful subject, you. 


Add a pop of color

Don’t be afraid of a little color! You don’t have to go overboard, but picking up bold colors from a more subtle outfit for a pop of color can look amazing. For example, if dad is wearing a plaid shirt, draw one color from it and have one child wear a pop of that color.


Outfit change

Pulling one coordinated outfit grouping together can be hard enough and the thought of two, daunting.  However, a quick outfit change is worth the time.  It can make your one photoshoot look like two.  It also gives you the chance to change the look.  You know a soft neutral color palette will be beautiful but you might want to try out a bold fall look.  This is your chance to go for it!


Don’t forget about the shoes

If you’re not the type of family who likes being barefoot, be sure to keep your footwear in mind. Nothing will throw your look off more than a ratty old pair of shoes.



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