Dressing for the Occasion; My Style Advice for Photography Sessions


This post is all about choosing your outfits for photo sessions. I’ve made poor outfit mistakes in the past and so this is my way of ensuring clients don’t make the same mistakes, are educated and can make the right choices.

This year, I’ve been making a big effort to touch base with clients about clothing. I even tell them they can text me photos of what they’re thinking of wearing. I also have a Pinterest inspo board to peruse (click here!) AND I’ve even created custom boards for specific clients who are really stuck.

I also provide business and store suggestions of where clients can purchase outfits. All of this is in a session prep guide that I send out to my families. I even have my own Client-Only Access Facebook Group where I share insider info (sounds soooo cool doesn’t it?) A recent post of mine included a bunch of screenshots of cute children’s outfit ideas from Zara. You can join it by clicking here.

This post itself is another way for me to know that I’ve crossed my t’s and dotted my i’s.

The biggest suggestion I will start with is for MOM to select her outfit first. She should spend the most time on this. We often don’t do this. BUT DO IT! PLEASE!

So Moms, give yourself plenty of time, I’m talking a month in advance, to select an outfit.

I highly suggest long dresses (if you’re choosing a dress) because you won’t have to worry about a peep show if you bend down and pick up your child. I also suggest one that is somewhat loose fitting so there’s room for movement.

Try on your outfit several times before the shoot. If you’re not loving the way it hugs your hips switch it up. We should all love our unique bodies, but the truth is sometimes it’s hard to get past certain insecurities. I’m trying my best, but it’s a work in progress. With that said, please choose something that you feel amazing in. You deserve it.

Once you’re happy (high five!) then use your outfit to base the rest of your family’s around.

This is exactly what I did when we recently had our own family photos done. I bought a dress from a popular Duncan clothing store called Archer + Arrow and it was beige with a floral print. Perfect. That meant I could pair the kids and my hubby’s outfits around that. I picked their shirt colours based on similar tones that worked together.

As I said, comfort is key. Quite often during family sessions kids can be quite active and silly. I know from experience my kids were jumping all over me during our recent shoot. If I had been wearing something too tight, I would have been hating life. I love capturing authentic moments and that just might be what they are, you having an impromptu race down the beach with your son, for example. So make sure that’s something you can do.

Sidenote: always pack extra clothing for kids, even just for the ride home. It’s a great idea to have a back up photo outfit for the kids as well, your second choice outfit, the one that didn’t make the cut but is still cute.

I had a mom pull up to her motherhood session last year and have to change her baby girl’s cute romper as she had had a blow out on the way there (poop everywhere). This mom was prepared though and had an equally cute outfit ready to change her into.

Sometimes kids will get their parents dirty as well, say when dad picks up his son and his shoes were wet and those shoes get his shirt wet… oops. So it wouldn’t be the worst idea even if mom and dad packed extra clothes, depending on the location of the shoot. Have you booked a full two-hour beach session? Extra clothes are a must!

Footwear can be tough. I always say consider your location. And don’t spend too much time dwelling on shoes… honestly my kids kicked off their shoes during our family shoot and I just love bare feet photos. But before shoes can be kicked off, make sure those shoes are somewhat matching your outfits and again comfortable.

Dads, if you’re OK taking off the ball cap please do. It can often cast shadows on your face. However, I understand it’s sometimes part of your look and or you’re not comfortable without it. But for sure ditch the sunglasses and leave the phone in the car (don’t put phones in your jeans pocket). Moms, don’t make your partner wear something they’re not comfortable wearing. They need to be OK with it and not feeling embarrassed because you made them wear a salmon coloured polo shirt and their typical attire is a well-worn Standfield. How about a compromise? A pair of khaki shorts and a solid grey t-shirt, that’s totally cool.

My husband is pretty red-neck so I keep that in mind when I’m picking his outfits for shoots. For one of our beach shoots, he wore a light blue Westcoasttee’s shirt with a salmon graphic and a list of all bodies of water on Vancouver Island on it. PS: I’ve included Westcoasttee’s in my style guide suggestion list.

Speaking of solid colours… I often recommend them. One person can wear a pattern, but the rest of the crew should be in solid colours that flow with that pattern.

Crazy bright colours and funky patterns don’t photograph well. There’s a reason why my Pinterest board mostly includes pastels. I find it tricky in post-processing when someone has worn a bright coloured shirt. Part of the reason for that is when I edit, I like working with bold colours with the surroundings (lush green trees, blue water, pretty pink flowers) however, if someone is wearing a bright red shirt, it’s going to look quite bold in the final product and typically will reflect that colour on their skin tone.

Jewelry, pretty toe nail polish and lovely curls can be a nice touch too. Please treat yourself! Put the effort in and you won’t be disappointed.