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  • Writer's pictureEmily Irwin

5 Tips for Deciding What Outfits to Wear to Your Photo Session

Updated: Jan 14

Why what you wear to your photoshoot matters.

I've been mulling over this blog post for some time now. I see a lot of other photographers choosing an editing style and sticking to it no matter what. I see them telling their clients what kinds of things they should wear (and rightfully so) to align with their style. But that doesn't sit right with me, for, well, me.

I want my families to feel themselves and not have to break the bank getting a whole new wardrobe for their photo session. If you want to buy all new outfits and want to fit in with a certain photo style then I say GO FOR IT! I love it! But you know what I also love? For you to feel comfortable and be yourself. That makes for a better photo session in my opinion!

All that being said, if your goal is to receive let's say, a light & airy gallery of your images, then there are certain things you'll want to do in preparation for your session with me. So follow along for these tips for preparing your family's outfits!

Tip Number One - Light & Airy

Light and airy maternity photo of a mom-to-be in a peony garden

If you're a lover of the Light & Airy style (like me) you'll need to wear light neutrals and pastels. Think about it, those colors are bright, airy, and light, hence light & airy. It's so beautiful especially for those photoshoots during golden hour (remember there are 2 of those in the day, and if you have early risers we can get that super misty golden light in your photos in the morning too). The light from the sun is diffused which means there are no harsh highlights or shadows on anyone's face, and that wonderful creamy effect is achieved. Can this be done during the day also? Yep! The photo here is evidence of that! This was long after golden hour in the morning, but by using the shade of the trees we were still able to get the light and airy look. You'll also notice that this dress is white, which is one of the outfit colors for the Light & Airy style. Bonus points for long, flowy dresses, mostly just because I love it.

Tip Number Two - Earthy

Family of 4 walk towards the camera hand-in-hand at a Christmas Tree Farm during golden hour

What if you don't love the Light & Airy style like me, but want something that's more Earthy? I can do that too. Remember I'm here to create your lasting images. I much prefer to focus on my photography style, your experience, and what you get out of not only the session but everything from start to finish. So, that being said, if you want a more Earthy look to your photos, your outfits should be those muted earthy tones. Think sage or olive green, think tan and brown, think mauve and eggplant. Just because we're going with earthy tones in your outfits doesn't mean we can't have color! There's a warm, earthy rainbow just waiting out there for you to pick from! You can see in the photo I've chosen here that the colors are more warm in my edits since I am matching to the colors this beautiful family chose to wear to their session out at the tree farm.

Tip Number Three - Dark & Moody

Mother and son hold carved pumpkins in front of their bellies on a bridge to nowhere in the forest in this Sleepy Hollow-inspired photo. Both have had their heads removed through the magic of photoshop.

Sometimes you're feeling moody. Sometimes that's all you ever feel and you want that mood all up in your photos. Great! I'm here for it! Especially if it evokes some epic Sleepy Hollow vibes (see the photo of what I hope becomes a yearly tradition... I'd love to fill October with spooky Halloween photoshoots so let's get you on the books). For Dark & Moody wardrobe, pull out those dark earth tones and blacks for this editing style. There's actually quite a bit of crossover between Earthy and Dark & Moody for the vibrancy and type of colors, but for Dark & Moody it'll look great if you make sure those colors are deeper and richer. You can go with pure black if you want, for sure, but just because you have a moody soul doesn't mean you can't toss in color here and there. I love using this style for the more cinematic look too. If you want to know what I mean by that, you can check out this Instagram post I recently made.

Tip Number Four - Bright & Cheery

Extended family of 9 all look at each other while laughing in this beautiful autumn photoshoot under bright orange maple trees in the fall evening light.

Let's say you're a rainbow child, you LOVE color, and all you want is Bright & Cheery photos from your session. Again, you heard it here first folks, I. AM. HERE. FOR. IT! (That wasn't too aggressive was it?) I, too, love color. You should have seen me right out of college. I was color blocking EVERYTHING I wore and often looked like a rainbow threw up on me. So, I know how much color can be a part of someone and they want that to shine in their photos. In this gorgeous photo in the beautiful orange fall leaves, this extended family chose such wonderful colors for their photos that I just could not dampen them. Just remember, if you choose to wear bright, vibrant colors to your photo session, make sure they aren't clashing colors. When in doubt, I'm here for you as a resource once you hire me. I don't disappear from your life once you pay your session fee until your scheduled photoshoot. You can always ask questions, and I love to help guide families on what to wear!

Tip Number 5 - Warm & Glowy

Mother and toddler sit on a bench in a peony garden in the spring

In this final editing style/outfit choice tip I wanted to cover the Warm & Glowy look. For this kind of image, you will need to wear warm colors, but I would shy away from the vibrant colors seen in Bright & Cheery. These warm toned wardrobe choices should have a more muted look to them. So instead of primary yellow, think mustard yellow. Instead of cherry red, think maroon or terracotta. You can even throw in some warm blues in here! Just because the color doesn't fall on the warm half of the color wheel doesn't mean it can't have a warm version of it! If you need help figuring out what blues are warm (especially if you're a blue kind of girl like me) just send me a message, I'd be more than happy to go over what would work for your Warm & Glowy blue outfit. In fact, I think that would be so beautiful, especially with one of the great lakes as a backdrop... ahem. Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

These 5 styles are not the only options out there for photos, but those are the ones I love the most. Like I said at the start of this, most photographers like to have a cohesive look to their photos. And while I love that for them, my goal is to create the best photos for my families. I'd love to have you join my photography family and come along on this journey with me!

If you're still stumped on what to wear, you can always check out my free style guide download!

Well that's it for my tips for photo session outfits and how they can (and will) affect my editing style for your family photos. Is there a style you particularly love and are dying to try out? Let me know! If you want to book a session, I'd love to get you on the books!

If you'd like to subscribe to my newsletter to get first dibs on upcoming mini sessions, discounts, and exclusive-to-my-VIP-list offers, you can do so here!

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