What to wear for a photo shoot: the clothing Do’s and Don’ts

"A smile is the best makeup a girl could wear."

Marilyn Monroe


If you have been thinking on what to wear for a photoshoot here is some of top tips about what you should (and shouldn’t) do for the next time you’re getting your picture taken.


  1. Keep location in mind

Are you going to be indoors or outdoors? Is the area paved, muddy, rocky, or grassy? What kind of colors would look best in that setting? If you will be outside, it’s a good idea to wear clothes you would be comfortable sitting on the ground in.

Think of your surroundings when picking out colors for your outfit. If your photos are in a park, a green dress might camouflage you with the grass and trees. A complimentary color, like a red dress, would pop against the green if you want to stand out. For a more subdued look, try a cool color like a blue, to differentiate from your surroundings. If you’ll be in more of an urban setting — let’s say in front of an abandoned brick building — try bold hues to contrast with the gritty background.

If you’re going to be shooting in a wheat field, try a casual sundress or shirt and jeans. If your shoot is more formal cocktail attire might be the way to go. If you wouldn’t normally set up a picnic in a field or go trekking through a far-off neighborhood, don’t do it for your engagement photos. If the setting doesn’t feel natural to you, let your photographer know some of your favorite spots to visit, like a nearby park or the cafe where you first met.

  1. Pick complimentary colors

When you figuring out what to wear for your session don’t think so much about everyone wearing the same shirt or even the same color! Pick a few (3-4) complementary colors and carry them throughout your family’s outfits.

When you are picking your complimentary colors think in terms of like color tones. If most of your family are in dark colors, don’t stick one person in a pastel or white. Just put all of the outfits next to each other and do a couple quick glances – is there an area that your eye is immediately drawn to, if so, that may not be a good sign. You can either add other accessories to make that outfit blend in more, or change it all together. All you are looking for is good flow.

Holiday tip: If you’ve already picked out your holiday card, try planning your outfit around the colors in that design.

  1. Accessories makes session a little special

No matter the season, accessories are a great way to change up looks for different shots. Hats, jewelry, scarves, and most important shoes – all fun ways to make your session a little special, and a great opportunity to coordinate.

  1. Avoid text or logos

Text and logos immediately draw the eye in photographs. Your family portrait is supposed to be about your personalities, how you interact with each other, and of course the love between you. You definitely don’t want anything that’s not meaningful to distract from that connection.

  1. It’s all about comfort

Comfort is key. If you have to jump up and down in your jeans to get them to fit, you might want to opt for something you’ll feel more free to move in. Want to wear heels for your beach photo shoot? Swap them for flip flops, which will help you look more natural and relaxed. If a strapless dress is in your “maybe” pile, think about whether or not you’ll feel confident or will constantly be adjusting your dress. The better you feel in your clothes, the better you’ll look in front of the camera, so don’t overthink it.

Another part of being comfortable is not having to worry about dragging a purse around or constantly shifting keys and your phone out of your pockets. Leave those items behind or in your car and you’ll feel a lot less restricted without them.

If you know you’re going to be doing a lot of walking during your photo session, laying on the ground, getting wet…anything at all, you’ll want to be comfortable in what you’re wearing. If you have a pair of heels that you’re dying to wear for your photos, it might be a good idea to have a pair of flats with you just in case. And as they always say, if you’re comfortable, you’ll feel more confident and it will show in your photos. So, look nice, even dress up if you like, but don’t wear something if it makes you self-conscious or you know you’re going to have keep adjusting it during your shoot.

  1. Dress up according the weather

This may seem simple enough, but be sure to check the weather the morning of your shoot. Shorts and flip flops probably aren’t the best on a cold day, and wearing Uggs in the summer might not be the most comfortable option. If you’re fair-skinned and your engagement photos are being done in early Spring, you probably haven’t gotten a lot of sun. Bright colors can wash pale skin out, so it may be best to go with pastel or neutral tones if you’re naturally porcelain-toned.

If you’re shooting outside you don’t want to freeze if the temperatures have been dropping. Likewise, in the summer when it’s extremely hot outside, you don’t want to wear a fabric that isn’t breathable.

  1. Be yourself

My favorite photos are the ones where the couple looks and feels like themselves. Wearing an outfit you’re comfortable in will only accentuate your style and personality. Whether you want to wear jeans and a t-shirt or a matching pajama set, your happiness will show through and influence the overall mood in the photos.

That being said, a photo shoot is an opportunity to enhance your natural beauty. If you don’t normally wear makeup, cameras have a sneaky way of picking up uneven tones on our faces. A little foundation and mascara will go a long way toward making your pictures reflect how you look every day.

In conclusion, we are our own worst critics, so the first thing to keep in mind is you are amazing. When your kids looks at these images 20 years from now they aren’t going to care if you have sculpted abs or are a little soft. They will see their family together and happy – this is what matters.  However, it’s important that you feel good in what you’re wearing. If that means hiding areas that you are not so sure about, do it! If you’re uncomfortable with your arms don’t go sleeveless. Feel unsure about your midsection – layer with a cardigan or blazer and wear a scarf to draw attention up your face that is filled with joy watching your children play.

Kids clothing tips

Adult-like clothing on children can look adorable in photos. Button up shirts for boys, dresses for little girls, vests, simple jeans or linens. If you have multiple children think about what their outfits would look like together. For example: your little girl in a dark pink top, boy in a light blue & white button up, and your newborn in a white top is a good balance.

Even though most children love their friends Elmo, Dora, Batman, etc, those shirts are something to consider leaving at home. This holds true for large logos and statement clothing (tops with sayings on them). They will draw attention from the most important subject, your child!

And for babies, there’s nothing better than their birthday suit.

Accessories such as headbands, tutus, hair clips, hats, sunglasses, can be a fun addition. Even if not to use for every shot.

Should you need some inspiration try H&M for kids, Gap Kids, Janie & Jack, etc

What to avoid? 


The most pleasing photos nowadays have everyone in the same color scheme but without all the matchy-matchy goodness of the past. If you need help finding palette inspiration check out design-seeds.com  Find a photo you like and go off that palette or choose a hue you know you want to use and let them create a palette for you!

Try to avoid having just one person wear a completely different color, especially when that color is very bright or in stark contrast to the rest of the family. This draws the attention just to that person instead of unifying the group. Of course this is fine if that’s the idea you’re going for.

Wear Loose, baggy clothing

Remember, these photos will be a reminder to your loved ones what you look like when they can’t be with you! Fitted clothes look much more polished and flattering than loose clothes, which can just make you appear boxy. Check the fit of jackets, sweaters or collared shirts, and be sure that the collar won’t obscure your face when you sit down and that the shoulders won’t bunch up.

Something you’ve never worn before

We’re all about shopping, but don’t let the photo shoot be the first time you’re wearing new duds! You’ll want to feel comfortable and confident, and if you’re unsure of how that skirt will act when you’re focused on your poses, it’s best to wait until you don’t have professional photographic proof.

Avoid trends

Unless you’re going for a particular style for your shoot, it’s usually a good idea to avoid anything too on trend so that later on you aren’t looking back at your photos thinking, “why did I wear THAT?”

Avoid logos and text

Text and logos immediately draw the eye in photographs. Your family portrait is supposed to be about your personalities, how you interact with each other, and of course the love between you. You definitely don’t want anything that’s not meaningful to distract from that connection.




  • Have either a fresh coat of nail polish on your nails that coordinates with your outfit or don’t have any nail polish on at all. You don’t want chipped nail polish.
  • Wear makeup even if you don’t normally. If you don’t usually wear makeup, use a tinted moisturizer and mascara. This will help even your skin tone and make your eyes pop a little bit. If you do normally wear makeup, I suggest going to your salon and getting professional makeup and hair done. It’s so fun to pamper yourself and know you will look even more amazing! For children and dads, they get off easy!
  • Make sure hair is done. If family members need a cut, do it a week before your session. That way you have time to get used to it and working with it.
  • Bring along makeup for touch ups. Also bring your brush and hairspray just in case!


  • Wear a bright bra. Please wear a nude color bra and be sure it’s strapless if they are wearing spaghetti straps or any clothing where their bra straps can be seen.
  • Don’t show up with chipped nail polish. I know that was mentioned in the DO’s, it’s just that important!
  • Don’t wear characters on clothing. Or logos. Or anything splashed all over the clothing that detracts from your family. This means no Dora, no Nike swoosh sign across a shirt and no light up shoes. Those are best kept at home, not worn to family photos.