Siblings wearing matching red accessories for a fall photo session.

Deciding what to wear for a photo session can be just as daunting as finding the right photographer. These are photos you will hang in your house and cherish for years. And understandably, dressing for a photo session can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Read this article, it will give you tips on making the best wardrobe choices for family, children, or single portrait sessions.

Clothes Make the Photograph

What you are wearing during a photo session is just as important as other factors like posing, location, and lighting. A great outfit can emphasize a great photo. The primary reasons you should give attention to your clothing during a photo session are:


  To make sure you and your friends are the main subject, not your clothing.

 To complement the elements of contrast and style with your clothes and accessories.

 To be yourself and let your personality shine through.

You can achieve the perfect look by first conferring with your photographer. They can provide background and lighting options that will guide your best choices. Additionally, it’s always useful to bring a change of clothes (or two!) and a selection of accessories in case weather or other factors interfere with your first choice.

How Should You Dress for a Photo Session?

There are some tried and true rules of thumb when choosing your clothes and accessories when dressing for a photo shoot:

  • Solid colored clothes are always a safe bet! However, accessorizing with bolder colors and patterns can add some fun and flair.
  • Select 1 to 3 colors for a group portrait, with colors that complement each other. For instance, colors that are commentary like teals and oranges, or colors that are analogous like greens with blues. Varying hues also work well like reds and pink separated by white or black.  Another tool at your disposal is matching patterns and materials as well.
  • Dress for the pose – take into account who will be kneeling or sitting and avoid uncomfortable or short clothing.
  • It can also be fun to choose a theme for your outfits for a photo shoot. This can be cute for children or families, Pinterest and other sources on the internet can be a great resource for ideas.
  • Go for dark footwear or socks; unless it is a barefoot photo session.
  • If you are planning a haircut, try to include a day between the cut and shoot so you can practice styling your new ‘do.

How to Coordinate a Group Photo Style

The secret to putting a harmonizing look and getting your group to balance each other lies in how you present the vision. If you explain the process of contrast, style, and complement, you can help them visualize the aspirations you have, as opposed to dictating their personal look or style.

I strongly feel that photography is bi-directional; it’s part artistic and part psychology. What I mean by this is as it pertains to family and portrait sessions, is that the quality of the portrait relies just as much on the subjects as it does the photographer. Not everyone is comfortable being photographed professionally, so helping your group or child be more open and relaxed can start before the session is even scheduled. You can help by choosing clothes and colors that complement everyone, but also make them feel great and secure, and making the entire process as entertaining and fun as possible. Allow their input while sticking to the overall style of the shoot.

How-to-Coordinate-Group-Photo-Style  Select understated tones, preferably ones that are a little subdued – so that you emphasize yourself as the subject of the portrait, not the clothing, and you rhyme with the rest of the group. Explain that bright colors such as yellows, oranges, and reds, project the light outwards and make one appear bigger, and bold accessories will not overwhelm the focus.

 Select 1 to 3 colors for a group portrait – Colors that pair well together will complement each other and the wearers. The less variation, the better the pairing.

 Go for dark footwear or socks; unless it is a barefoot photo session on the beach – White or light footwear and socks can become a focal point in a photo

 Styling your hair to complement your outfit– Hair styling can be a very elegant thing, and it should always complement your attire.

 If you are planning a haircut, include a day in between – Haircuts sometimes need the time to allow even growth, and you’ll want to try styling it on your own.

 These helpful tips not only ensure a great portrait, but they also create a fun and comfortable experience for everyone.

Please note, most of the tips I have shared in this article are about styling your photo session. You will also want to consider location, backdrop and more!

Dressing for a Photo Session – Putting It All Together

The key takeaway here is understanding how color and contrast work to create a beautiful portrait. If you understand how your clothing and accessory choices can complement a landscape, background color or lighting, you can end up with a library of wonderful photos. If you’re planning a group photo session, the perfect color and style balance will result in a timeless and lovely photo.  If you liked Dressing for a Photo Session, sign up for the Samantha McAllister Photography Newsletter to get great content like this straight to your inbox!


Interested in a booking Sam for a photo session?  View her session pricing and information here: Samantha McAllister Photography – Sessions

Dressing for a Photo Session
Article Name
Dressing for a Photo Session
Deciding what to wear for a photo session can be just as daunting as finding the right photographer. This article, will give you tips on making the best wardrobe choices for family, children, or single portrait sessions.