WHAT SHOULD YOU WEAR?
Dressing yourself in the morning is hard enough when you don’t have to stand in front of a camera and be your best self. Choosing what to wear for a photoshoot can trigger even the most confident, fashion-ey fashionista to pull their entire wardrobe out onto the floor in search of the perfect outfit.
So if your nerves start to fizz when you think about what to wear, don’t worry. This is SO normal! Before you lose sleep to late nights spent online shopping--putting articles of clothing in your cart only to take them out again--let’s talk about what works and what doesn’t.
NUMBER ONE—BE COMFY PLEASE
Number one thing I want you to remember? Being comfortable is EVERYTHING. You should look and feel like yourself, first and foremost.
It’s not uncommon for people to want to shop for new, sparkly, fabulous clothes to wear to a photoshoot. And that’s totally fine - if that’s your jam. But let’s talk about comfort a little more. Do you think you’d be more comfortable in your favorite t-shirt and jeans or a new clingy little black dress? The best route is usually to go with something that’s tried and true. Something you know moves with you and hugs you in all the right places. Don’t get me wrong - it 100% does not have to be jeans and a t-shirt. You can glam it up a bit more if that’s what you fancy. But if authenticity is what you’re after, you’re going to have to show up as yourself. And if you want to capture this time of your life in all its glory, then it’s about the feeling of being in your own skin.
MATCH YOUR OUTFIT
TO THE LOCATION & SEASON
If you’re wearing a fancy ball gown in your living room, the viewer might assume you’re going to prom. Don a little sundress number in a snowy field and the viewer might suffer from a crippling amount of pity for you. You and I will be collaborating on telling your story together, so let’s get this right.
Plan your outfits around what you know about the conditions at the location we’ll be shooting at. You’ll want to be warm enough (or cool enough!), have pain-free feet, and look relatively native to your environment. For at home sessions, slip into your comfiest comfies and rock that (pants optional). The idea is to authentically capture you wherever you are.
Think through your clothing choices logically based on location, vibe, and comfort level.
TIP: MAYBE DON’T WEAR ALL BLACK ON A STINKIN’ HOT DAY. JUST TRUST ME ON THIS ONE.
B R I N G M U L T I P L E
OUTFITS ... PRETTY PLEASE
Gather up 2 or 3 outfits that you feel amazing in and we can play around with different combinations on the day. I’m not trying to photocopy trends in all their boring hues, I’m looking for the you-est you. Bring things that help you express yourself--I want you to grace my lens with your true, full personality! Providing options helps me to make sure your threads compliment the environment—keeping the focus on you, where it should be!
I’m up for it all. If you’re in a heavy metal band and want to smash some things and scream at the sky, throw on your best concert attire and count me in. If you’re a drama kid at heart and live for the spotlight, I’ll help you turn your front porch into a stage and feed you the lines you’ve forgotten. If you’re a jeans and a t-shirt kinda person, let’s work with that. I want your shoot to be different from everyone else’s. I want it to be you.
TEXTURE & MOVEMENT
Pick fabrics that move and flow with you. Ones that add a cozy texture, or get picked up by the wind, filter the late afternoon sun, and glow in the morning light. Natural fibers like linen, cotton, or wool are amazing. Avoid stiff-seeming garments with collars as they look a bit too formal and often get tucked in weird spots and need adjusting.
COLOR SCHEMING ... WHAT IS IT?
Aim for neutrals, earthy tones, and metallic. These colors compliment the outdoor environment almost anywhere you go and look damn fine as a printed, framed photograph. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for a beige world of quiet and inoffensive colors. By neutrals, I just mean softer tones. Primary colors are incredibly striking, but can sometimes have the effect of detracting from the main subject (which is you). So for example, instead of electric blue, go for something closer to sky blue. Instead of bright orange, opt for ochre or apricot.
A rule of thumb here is to choose to either complement your natural environment or contrast it. A mustard dress in a deep green forest will look epic, whereas a bright pink, patterned dress doesn’t really fit in with your surroundings. It totally depends on what you’re looking for! For families it’s best to keep your color scheme limited to four colors. You can choose one person to wear a feature color and have everyone else’s outfits complement that.
You don’t want to create the illusion of being your partner’s siamese twin. When multiple people wear the same color, sometimes their matching outfits blend together so much that you can’t really see any of them properly. The viewer can’t tell where one person begins and another one ends. They turn into one uniform blob.
In order for the aesthetics of your photograph to really sing, you want to find complementary outfits that showcase a variety of colors, textures, accessories, patterns, and tones. Complement the other people in the photograph as well as your surroundings. The idea is to have everything look good together without everything looking the same.
BE CAREFUL WITH PATTERNS AND PRINTS
Avoid large bold patterns as they often dominate the photograph and detract attention from your beautiful face.
Usually, subtle smaller patterns work best. Flannels or a light floral print are great when they complement the location. But less is definitely more with this one, try to limit yourself to one pattern at a time. Matching patterns is a tricky task, and it’s super difficult to do well.
If you aren't quite sure what category your patterned clothes fall into, shoot me an email or send me a text and I'll be happy to weigh in!
Wearing layers is great form (and function). Not only does combining layers and textures create more visually interesting photographs, but it preps you for all sorts of weather conditions, too! Think jackets, cardigans, hats, scarves, tights, and headbands.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT LOGOS?
Much like crazy patterns, clothing with writing or logos on it tends to be a bit distracting. We’re not getting paid for Adidas’ not-so-subtle product placement. However, if the logo or phrase is tasteful (read: not tacky), in theme with the shoot, and fits your personality, I’m all for it. Here are some examples of logos that work.
MAKEUP & HAIR
DO'S (AND DON'TS)
So this is totally your call! But, if I may... I would suggest cultivating a bit of the French je ne sais quoi that balances elegance and ease so well. I want you to look like you. So do whatever you need to do to feel confident and beautiful. Hands tell such a story about who you are and where you’ve been and play a crucial role in portrait photography. Sometimes photographs magnify bright nail polish, chipped manicures, and dirty fingernails. And once you see it, you can’t un-see it--your eye just keeps on zooming in on that one bit of the photograph.
It’s really distracting. Treat yourself to a little subtle manicure or make sure your nails are neat and tidy before the shoot. As for hair ... Oh boy. I’m a sucker for the way a wild mane blows in the breeze. Up-dos are alright, and I totally get it--it’s so easy to throw your hair up! But when it comes to saving a moment and putting it in your pocket, hair down is the way to go. With your hair down, you get movement, you get interest, you get some perfect slices of imperfection in the best possible way.
Dress for the season
Dress for the location
Compliment - don’t match (unintentionally).
Wear something comfortable that you feel like yourself in.
Natural fibers and earthy colors look amazing in most settings.
Avoid large prints, logos, and patterns (unless it helps tell your story).
Throw some accessories like a hat or denim jacket into your bag.