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  • Writer's pictureShannon Beaver

What to Wear for your Photo Session

Ahh, the age-old question: "What in the world are we going to wear for our photo session?" You might also be asking things like: "How can I make this as painless as possible?" "How can I convince my kids-slash-husband to wear nice things for about two hours without tears?"

I get it. If you're like me, you finally took the plunge and scheduled your photo session, you're feeling all accomplished and awesome . . . and then approximately ten seconds later it hits you--you have absolutely no idea how to make everyone look cohesive and stylish and yet still manage to look like, um, YOURSELVES. The pressure is on, and you've just forked over all this money on the photography session and now it feels like you're gonna have to spend a fortune and sooo much time getting you all to look nice!! AmIright??

All right, deep breaths, it's really not so bad, I promise. In fact, I recommend you start by taking a few of the tips below and actually go shopping in your own closets at home! Chances are, you can create an awesome look with many things you've already got on hand. And bonus points for closet shopping because everyone should feel pretty comfortable that way! You just need to think through the clothing selection a little and be intentional with what you pick out!

These wardrobe choices are casual, stylish, cohesive and full of their personalities!

Notice the pops of color and pattern, and awesome footwear.

So here's my number one tip: Choose a cohesive color scheme. You want to combine colors within the same color palette, with a touch of contrast. Neutrals are always your friend. If you want some color, pick just one or two contrasting colors to sprinkle throughout your wardrobes with more neutral colors like grey, navy or tan as your base. You can also do this with accessories--necklaces, suspenders, or shoes are awesome ways to bring in great color, too!

Last tip on your color choices--Keep in mind the season and location of your session. If you've got lots of green or brown at your location, steer away from those colors on your bodies, or else you'll blend into the background. If you're shooting in an urban location, consider outfits that are a bit more edgy, or bring in bolder tones to really pop against the cityscape.

This family chose a color palette that stands out from the green background--mom's shirt brings a little pattern and pop of color without veering too far from their overall look.

Let's talk patterns next. Patterns and texture in your clothes bring interest to your look! But choose wisely, and use sparingly. Choose one person or one article of clothing to be your wild card and have everyone else play off of that! Tiny, subtle patterns are usually okay to mix and match a little--think pinstripes, little polka dots, or subtle plaids.

Great example of neutral tones, and one standout pattern in the mix!

Details matter. So accessorize! Layer! Roll up your shirtsleeves, put a belt on to define your waist, tie your t-shirt so it's more flattering, bring a jean jacket or cardigan. The more thought you put in to the variety, layers, and textures of your outfits, the more put together you'll all look in your photos.

BONUS: After a few poses, layers can be removed for almost a whole new look!

Check out the details here: Mom's dress is knotted, guys have cuffed shirts and suspenders.

Dad's shirt has a small pattern, and it compliments Mom's dress so well!

Don't. forget. shoes!! Especially for your boys. I cannot tell you how many times I've put together my own family's photo outfits and realized at the last minute that my boys only own sneakers, and those dirty things are NOT going to vibe with the look I'd created! UGH. Maybe I'm the only one who forgets to think of boy shoes, but grabbing a cheap (And clean!!) pair of loafers somewhere like Payless (or heck, even Walmart!) can save the day.

Are we shooting in your home? Keep things casual to reflect the coziness of your space.

Details matter here, too! Make sure your clothing matches the feel of the rooms in your home

that we'll be using. Like here--there are no shoes in bed! Bare feet are perfect.

WHAT NOT TO WEAR: All right guys, here's a short list of wardrobe no-no's that make photographers cringe!

--Logos and cartoon shirts. These won't stand the test of time, and you want your investment in these photos to be worth it years down the road.

--Skinny-strapped tank tops on older girls & women. These show bra straps, and strapless bras aren't always the most flattering, either. If you're going sleeveless, wider straps are your best friend.

--Neon colors. Bright colors often reflect and create a color cast on your face that's NOT flattering and hard to remove, even with our mad Photoshop skills! Even a coral-colored shirt can have this effect, so just be careful what colors you put near your face.

--Dingy socks/hands/faces/nails. All of these will show up in your pictures. Bring some wipes for little ones, just in case.

Sock and shoe game on point. Also, dad's shoes are his THING, so this is a great example of making sure to include bits of personality in your choices.

SENIORS: All the things above apply, but you've got more room to play! Yes, bring something classy and a little upscale for some nice photos. But don't forget your personality when choosing outfits!. Bring your letterman jacket, your catcher's gear, basketball, musical instrument, dance shoes, favorite sweatshirt and jeans, your future college logo, etc. Love your car? Dog? Job? We can work these things in, just let us know beforehand!

Extra Tips:

Sometimes the easiest way to get started on your inspiration is to find a favorite piece of clothing you already own that tells a great color story--then start grabbing other items that compliment or contrast it well and before you know it, you're good to go!

Fresh haircuts are great, but try to schedule those at least a week ahead of time. This gives hair time to settle, and time for you to get used to styling it.

Moms, senior girls, engaged ladies--this is a GREAT time to get professional makeup done. It's not required, but it definitely helps with confidence and looking camera-ready. Similar to haircuts, you may want to have a practice round with your makeup artist before your session day.

Holy moly, that's a lot of people to coordinate. Don't overthink! There are casual outfits with jeans and shorts, and also cute dresses in the mix. Colors coordinate, but don't match.

A few bold-colored shirts help with extra interest, too!

Still struggling? If you've got a good photographer, he or she will help you figure out what will work best. Don't be afraid to give them a call or text with questions or pictures of what you're putting together. Bring a few options to your session and take the first few minutes to put together something fantastic with your photographer! You're paying them to make you look your best, and that's all part of it, if you ask me (Want to ask me, literally? Here ya go:

Happy styling, guys!!!


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