What do I wear for photos?

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"Aminah help! What do I wear for photos?"

This is the number one question I get asked before a shoot. I've answered it many times and have even gone to a client's house pre-shoot to help pick out clothing. 

Here is my best answer to this burning question. After 10 years of shooting professionally, you could say this is my professional opinion.

There are only a few rules you should follow. 

First for family photos...

Do not wear loud patterns and overly bright colours.
The bigger and bolder the pattern, the more distracting it is for the human eye. The human eye gravitates to bright colours and repetition. This means the bigger and brighter the pattern, the more your clothing will distract from you as the subject. The clothes will wear you rather than you wear the clothes. Keep things simple.

Avoid wearing clothing with graphics, logos and sports teams.
Much like bold patterns, large graphics and logos also distract your eyes away from important things like faces. Plus, logos tend to date images. Keeping things simple will result in more timeless images.

If you guys are diehard fans and have to have that family photo with everyone in matching jerseys, bring them with you and throw them on at the end of the shoot. 

You don't have to coordinate so your entire family is wearing the same outfit.
You do not have to make everyone wear the same top and bottoms. (eg. everyone in black t-shirts and khakis. Ew!) There is such a thing as too simple. It starts to feel like a uniform and lacks individuality. The same can be said for wearing the same colour head to toe.

Instead, you could coordinate a couple of colours as highlights or accents on each person. Find some colour combinations that compliment each other. Get thee to the Pinterest! Just remember subtly is key.

 This family chose white as their main colour for their summer shoot. Lawrd! It was hot that day! You'll notice they paired all white with cream and beige and jeans. They looked so good!

This family chose white as their main colour for their summer shoot. Lawrd! It was hot that day! You'll notice they paired all white with cream and beige and jeans. They looked so good!

And now for headshots...

For corporate shoots, ladies avoid sleeveless tops and dresses.
Bare skin distracts from your face. If you forgot you were having a shoot that day, just throw a blazer over top of your outfit. (I keep a blazer in my closet at work just in case. I think maybe we should all do this.)

Avoid blending into the background.
Keep in mind what background colour you chose for your shoot and choose your shirt appropriately. Avoid plain white shirts if we're shooting on a white backdrop. (This is where the blazer comes in handy.) 

Funny story: One time we were doing some green screen work and an executive happened to be wearing a shirt that was a similar green colour to the backdrop. She was basically a floating head in the photos. We had a good laugh but she had to change mid-shoot.

Don't forget your shoes and socks.
It's easy to get caught up in tops and sweaters and then forget about the socks and shoes you are wearing for your shoot. Sometimes for corporate photos, I'm asked to shoot your full body. 

Sometimes this is where you can actually break a couple of the rules I stated above. Fun coloured socks paired with a standard-issue business suit can be a way of showing your personality while still being professional. 

Ladies, if you show up to our shoot with a pair of Poppy Barley shoes, we might just become best friends!

Don't forget!
Nametags, if they are standard issue but take off swipe cards and devices out of pockets pre-shoot.
Glasses, if you normally wear them.

...

Some other tips...
If you're the type to want to organize everything--like me--you could lay your outfits out together on the floor the night before. Take a step back and see if everything feels right. Sometimes you just need to see it all together before you get dressed.

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Bring a spare outfit with you just in case because... kids! They always spit up or spill. I swear to God! My son ended up with blueberry stains on his white shirt, and we hadn't even had blueberries that day. How? Why? How? 

Bringing a second or third outfit will also give you variety in your images. (This also works for headshots. Just bring a few tops.)

Whatever you do, don't force it.
If your daughter refuses to wear the pink tulle skirt today, that's fine. If your son decided he wants to wear his sister's sunglasses because he always does that, just let him.

In the end, the photographs we are creating are a representation of who you are.

Sure, you're paying money, and you want to look good, but the smiles will be 100 per cent genuine if everyone is happy. And, with a little effort, I can crop out the Spider-Man crocs your toddler decided he needed to wear for the photo shoot. 
 

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