I get asked for suggestions on what to wear all the time for engagement & family sessions, so I finally decided to create a page as a reference for anyone who wants my opinion on how to dress! I must reiterate that this is based solely on MY [professional] opinion. My sessions are always about YOU and what YOU want, so if you want everyone in your family to dress in jeans and white T-shirts, you are more than willing, but if you want a recommendation by me on what I think looks best, here you are.;)
What I typically tell my clients is to coordinate together with colors & patterns. Coordinating is very different than matching. When you match, everyone wear blues, blacks, whites, etc. When you coordinate, you choose a few colors that go well together [like example below, navy, yellow & brown] and mix those up with different patterns, solids, jewelry, etc.
Like in the photos below, Jake is wearing a patterned shirt while Teran is wearing a completely different color solid top. The colors are matching in no way, but are colors that go very well together. Layers are a good way to go to be able to break up solids & patterns like Jake did with his cardigan on the photo to the left.
Ryan & Megan also coordinated perfectly with burgundy, brown & cream for their fall photo session. The couple pulled colors from the pattern on Ryan’s shirt to create an outfit for Megan. The solids coordinates perfectly, but she adds more style & interest with layering a jacket and scarf.
You do not always have to coordinate a solid with a pattern! Typically I would suggest one person’s pattern is of a smaller print and not as distracting as the bolder pattern, but Jacki & Bobby showed me how two bold, but different patterns, can create a fun & casual look.
Families can be a little more tricky because you are dressing more people, but can also be a ton of fun when kids are involved:) Take the Pohland family, for example. They all wore solid colors, while subtle pops of color & patterns. Chris & Landon both have a patterned collared shirt under their sweaters and Heather wore a bold necklace to tie it together without going overkill with the coordinating.
The Bakers also nailed coordinating outfits with reds, browns & whites, with hints of patterns in Keith’s collar, Kate’s dress and James’s hat.
That, in a nutshell, are the basics for a photo session, but for more detailed suggestions & examples in order to fit more of YOUR personal style, keep reading :)
I edit all my sessions differently. When a couple wears bold colors, I edit with more bold contrasts & vibrance. If a couple wears light, soft colors, I tend to edit with less contrast and more “airy” tones. Every couple & session is unique, so I edit accordingly.
First consider what kind of style you would like to reflect in your images. Next, think about your location. Are you going downtown where there will be a lot of walls with bold colors? Are you going to a field or outdoor space with a lot of light & earthy tones? What time of the year is it? It’s always great to reflect your location and how the scenery will look that time of year with what you’re wearing.
—BOLD & BRIGHT
Dressing in bright colors is a great way to make the image more vibrant and alive, regardless of your background/location. Wearing black is okay but can sometimes be a harsh color against some backgrounds. It also is difficult to make out the detail in black or dark navy outfits when the image is in black & white and can appear dramatically dark against the rest of the image.
Here are some great examples of dressing boldly.
Garrett wore the brightly patterned outfit and to coordinate, Amanda wore a solid, but she threw on a pop of color with her necklace to top it all off.
They changed into an outfit where Garrett again had a nice pattern on his sleeves, and Amanda pulled a color from there for her dress. Amanda was able to have her jean jacket for some and remove it for others.
Lauren & Chris actually had a 4th of July themed shoot, but I think this red, white & blue would work regardless! The colors really make them stand out from their surroundings.
You don’t have to all match or necessarily even coordinate to work with bold colors. The Baker family kids wore all different colors on the white snowy background, and it could not have looked cuter!
—SOFT & AIRY
Don’t want to be that vibrant & colorful in your photos? Dress in neutrals! If you’re worried that look will be boring, put on a yellow shoe, coral necklace, red lipstick, or something to spice your look up.
I love when the sunlight is perfect at that golden hour and the couple is wearing light colors. It can create an ethereal setting that just cannot be matched when the couple is in dark colors. With the cream dress & camo military uniform, Maura & Tyler worked perfectly with their setting.
Matt & Val choose more earthy tones to complement their location. Val still wore a big pattern & bright necklace in order to pop, but their casual colors & outfits created a soft vibe.
When that sun is shining perfectly, I LOVE when people dress in neutrals like Hope & Alex so there is little contrast and light, soft vibes.
Casual or dressy? This is a common question. What represents you as a couple or family best? If both do in different settings, wear some of each! For a 2-hour session, I would recommend bringing 2-3 outfits for more variety.
Here’s a great example of a couple who switched their style up in three different outfits.
#1- Button-up, lace dress & a red heel for a pop of color.
#2- Sundress & sandals for Caitlyn & a V-neck & jeans for Jeff
#3- Casual jeans for both, patterned V-neck for Jeff & Caitlyn brings in another smaller pattern with her scarf
Whew! That was probably too much information and a bit too overwhelming, ha. Hopefully the visuals gave you some ideas of what will work the best for YOU. Now you know how you can affect your shoot with what you wear!