What Not to Wear (to That Photo Shoot) - school
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What Not to Wear (to That Photo Shoot)

Looking to get family portraits for the holidays? Or are you a pro photographer with curious clients asking what they should wear to your shoot? Whatever you do, don’t end up on Buzzfeed because of your outfit! 


We’ve taken some of the best advice of our in-house pros to share some of their top tips about what you should (and shouldn’t) don the next time you’re getting your picture taken, and included some lovely examples from SmugMug photographers that show just how well a coordinated wardrobe can enhance your final image.

1. Matchy-matchy

Unless you’re going for a specific theme, it’s important to coordinate your outfits without your group all wearing the exact same thing. All plaid or all white can be painfully overpowering in your final image. Give the idea a more modern spin by picking two to three colors that complement each other, or wear different shades of the same color. Spice it up with a favorite accent color, like red, and have everyone wear just a small touch of that. Instant smiles!


Finally, 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.

2. Something out of place

It’s important to factor in your shoot location when planning your outfit. You’ll show up very differently when photographed against a plain neutral backdrop than when you’re taking photos in a riotously bright autumn forest! 


And let’s not forget about patterns: If you’re wearing plaid or stripes when photographed against a brick wall, you’ll see more lines than a zebra in jail! The result? No one will be able to find your face. 


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


3. 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.

4. 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. 


Reach for your favorite outfit, the one that makes you walk taller and feel like you can conquer the world!

5. Just one thing

Unless your photographer tells you otherwise, it’s wise to bring more than one outfit with you the day of the shoot. Most photographers will tell you before you book how many “looks” are included in your price, so follow their advice on what sorts of outfits and how many you’ll need. Think about the types of poses you may do, and your location – You may not want to sit on the ground in a miniskirt or walk across the park in heels. Finally, don’t forget to pack accessories like belts, shoes and hats that can turn a casual outfit into something classy.


Dry on ideas? Pinterest is a fantastic resource with ideas and storyboards showing how to group colors and pick a variety of outfits that you’ll love to show off.

In conclusion…..

Be comfortable, be confident, and use common sense! When in doubt, ask your photographer what works for them and what they’ve got planned for you. Their advice can make all the difference between an uncomfortable photo shoot and a beautiful experience with photos you'll cherish for years.


Beautiful examples from SmugMug pros:

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