A lady choosing what to wear for a portrait photography photoshoot

As photographers, we are asked prior to a photoshoot “What shall I wear”?

So here are a few suggestions as a guidance to start with.


Let’s start with the “what not to do” stuff, because if you avoid these things, you’re already set for success. These what to wear tips apply to everyday Lifestyle photography and Personal Brand Photography, as well as the more formal arrangement of setting aside time to go somewhere with the goal of getting great photographs.

So, the big things to avoid are: text, characters, logos and strong patterns, unless of course these are specifically for your Personal Brand Photography and marketing.

Why? Well, these things will draw the viewer’s eye away from the faces in the image.

If you’re planning a family photo shoot, remember that everyone needs to be able to move, to sit down comfortably on the ground and to play. If you’re in the woods or the countryside, white jeans is never going to be a good idea – far too much potential for mud. Add a dog to the mix and you’re just asking for trouble with white jeans. Or anything white.


Wearing clothes that are too tight is not flattering as sometimes the material bunches and creases in all the wrong places. Pretend to yourself all you like that you’re a size whatever, but for a photo shoot, wear the size you actually are.


Checks and stripes are good mixed with complementary solid colours, as are delicate patterns. Notice we say delicate patterns, because you really do need to watch those patterns. They could dominate the photo.

For the same reason, avoid clothing with writing and pictures splashed across them. Unless, of course you’re intending to make a statement with the slogan.


If you want to add interest and a polished, professional look to your photographs, you need to add layers and textures. This is easily done with jackets, cardigans, hats, scarves, shirts, colourful tights and even headbands.

Various fabrics offer great opportunities to add texture. Just think of the contrast between denim, lace, thick wool knits, crushed silk and tweed. Textured fabrics can also be added in the form of accessories, such as scarves and hats, not just as clothing.


Shoes matter a lot and should complement the look. In fact, if done right they could absolutely complete the look and tie all the elements together. Your youngest’s favourite wellies that she wears all the time show her personality and if the colour matches a scarf worn by your oldest daughter, the shoes become relevant and complementary.

Photographs are about personality and history. Her wellies mark that stage in her life, so are important.

Leather is best for shoes or boots. Sandals beat flip flops any day. In fact. We should have added flip flops to the avoid list.

Wellies, ballet flats, Converse and other similarly funky shoes look great if they suit the outfits. Shoes with cool colours that tie in with the colour palette are great. While you’re at it, think about sock choice too.

Bare feet, depending on the context, look adorable – that is in a meadow, the garden, at home or at the beach versus in an urban graffitied parking lot. Okay, so that is stating the obvious we know, but we’re making a point so that you think about the details. In photography, details are everything.

Time and place, as always, is so important. Leather boots on the beach are going to look daft, but the right kind of leather boots in a forest environment look great.


A family group looks better when everyone wears colours that blend well together. The key is coordination, not matching. In other words, don’t put everyone in white shirts and jeans, unless this is the specific look you would like.

If we’re going to be shooting your family in your home or out and about in nature, you need to think about how the colours everyone is wearing will work in the environment.

For woodland and countryside shoots earthy, blues and neutral palettes work really well. Pale and neutral palettes work really well for a beach scene. When photographing at home pale and neutral palettes that complement your decor are ideal. Alternatively, if you have a monotone home, strong colours would look great.

Bearing this in mind, choose a palette that you like, then put together outfits that have elements of that palette. I advise keeping within three colors, maybe push it to four, but definitely no more.

To make things interesting, make one of the colours an accent colour, such as a splash of red, orange or yellow. This will add a lovely punch to your photos. If dad wears a shirt with a red check, mom might wear a scarf with red or a child might wear red trousers or red wellies. Maybe even the dog could get in on the act with a red bandana!

Before you get carried away, it’s really important to remember that you don’t all have to wear all the colours you’ve chosen. In fact, please don’t all wear all the colours, because then we’re going into the realm of matchy-matchy…just with more colours.



So, for formal family photographs (i.e. the ones where you’re all going to look good and well put together, as opposed to everyday life) I advise men to shave an hour or so before heading out for the great big family adventure. Unless of course dad has a beard or favours the “designer stubble” look. In which case, you’re good to go.


As for us women, well we all know it takes more work being a woman than a man. Unless you’re a makeup free woman, in which case every woman on the planet is secretly jealous of your freedom.

We’re not saying that you need the nightclub look at 10am on a Sunday morning, but an extra coat of mascara will make your lashes appear longer and fuller. Lip gloss will add a sparkle. However, avoid frosted lip colours, as they can give the illusion that you’re not wearing any lip colour.


Advice for the whole family… Hands are very important in photographs, so make sure nails are neat and tidy. You’d be amazed how often people forget this one crucial detail.

6. Posing

Get out there and have some fun!

Don’t worry about getting everyone smiling and looking at the camera, even for the more formal group family photograph. That puts pressure on everyone, especially children. Besides, contemporary portrait photography is much more natural than it used to be, so go with it. Capture the love the laughter and even the tears and tantrums. This is your family, your business, you telling your story and these are your memories. Make them count and make them last by letting us take great photographs of you.