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  • Writer's pictureRachel

The Big Question: What to Wear to Your Session

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

What to wear, what to wear... To match or not to match? That is the question. ;)

Have you ever looked through your Pinterest board of picture sessions and seen so many different coordinating families and couples in their photo shoots? It can get SUPER overwhelming to look at those pictures while figuring out what you are supposed to do! Some of the questions you might have that I am here to answer are:

Should we coordinate?

How many outfits do I need?

What colors work best?

Dress up, but how much?

What kind of accents and accessories should be included?

I am here to simplify it for you, don't worry.

Quick Tips for Any Session Type

My first tip, and maybe the tip I have the most opinions about, is YES, match the other people in your pictures! Matching helps with the flow of the eye across the photo. If there are irregular patterns or colors, the eye gets stuck on those elements of the photo instead of focusing on the whole picture.

My second tip that can be applied to any session is to go with the classics: no crazy patterns but maybe some plaid or stripes, a balance of neutral colors and bold colors, etc. Your outfits can help with the timelessness of your photos as they hang on your walls. Make sure your colors complement your skin tone! It is fun to wear popping colors, but balance them with some basics, like white, grey, black, or blue. Here is a post I wrote all about how to choose what colors to wear and how to add bold colors into your wardrobe!

Be aware of your location. Don't wear browns when taking pictures in the desert or you, the main focus of the picture, will get drowned out! Ask your photographer about color recommendations if you are unsure. Be careful of your shoes as well. You don't want to be caught wearing heels and have to walk a quarter of a mile to get to your photo spot! Bring a backup pair of shoes if you are set on the pair for your outfit.

Accents can do wonders! Let's say you are taking a big family photo at a reunion. If you have decided that blue and grey are your colors, add a splash of red in there; give some babies headbands or bows; add a plaid red and blue shirt in a couple places, etc. This little bit of variety can do amazing things for the final product!

Now, let's go into more detail.

How Formal is too Formal?

The formality of your clothing depends on the session type and how many people are involved. For example, it is much easier to be formal and coordinate with fewer people than say an extended family at a reunion.

For large family pictures, I recommend going simple with the instructions for what to wear. Try and choose colors or clothing items that are already a part of a person's closet, such as jeans without holes or khaki pants. From there, recommend collared shirts or nice t-shirts for the boys and men and blouses for the women.

It is easier to coordinate if you give a broader range of colors to wear. I have a Pinterest Board dedicated to color schemes (mostly for interior design, but why not use them for this too?). You can access the board here. When giving instructions about the colors, perhaps say that various shades of the colors are acceptable. The more options available, the less stressed individuals and families are! You will all be much happier with the final result.

For immediate family pictures, it is easier to dress up because there are less people. Some families find it fun to buy specific outfits for their family photo shoot whereas other families opt to find clothes they already own. Either way is perfectly acceptable! I suggest wearing comfortable clothes whenever possible to help with the overall emotions on the day of, but it depends on the style of photo that you are going for. I still recommend finding different colors to combine or add as accents.

For couples or engagements, we can go a step further and have a change of clothes if desired. Some engagement photo shoots have the couple in a casual outfit, perhaps jeans and a blouse or button down, while the second change of clothes is more formal, with the couple in a suit and dress. There are many resources on the internet or on Pinterest with matching styles for men and women and I have found these very useful. I have included some examples below. The change of clothes adds some fun variety to the pictures!

For senior pictures and other individual portrait sessions, clothing depends on the purpose of the photos. It can be a fun time to buy a cute new dress or shirt or some new accessories to really change up your pictures. Many senior photo sessions include the option for a change of clothes. Talk to your photographer about this option.

I will have a post in the future with some outfit ideas from my favorite clothing shops, so keep your eye out! If you haven't subscribed, you can do so here to be informed when the blog post is published.


Accessories are the best! They are a good way to get that little splash of color and variety into your pictures. Add suspenders and/or bow ties for the boys and men! Hair bows and jewelry for the girls! Cute hats for anyone who has one! You get the idea.

Those are my tips! If you have any comments or additions, feel free to contact me or sign up to comment on the post.

If you haven't subscribed, I invite you to do so! I have some fun posts coming up as well as some sales and giveaways you won't want to miss!


family photos, engagement photos, senior pictures, outfits for family pictures, what to wear to a photo session, stress free photo sessions

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