What Should I Wear for my Photo Session?

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What Should I Wear for my Photo Session?

The endless search for the right look…

‘What should I wear for my photo session’ or ‘what’s the best outfit for a photo session?’ Can I wear a vintage dresses? How about something contemporary or romantic?

We all ask the same questions and this post is not about right or wrong, but rather it’s more of a starting point on how to bring the best outfit for you and your family when being photographed.  No one should dictate what others should wear and by no means I want to be one of those people. My goal is to help you bring out what you already have and together we can balance color, style and personality that will show through your final images.

So, let’s find out together!

What’s your personal style?

I know this is not an easy question but you know more about yourself than you think. Take a look at your wardrobe and try to think of what types of clothes you wear the most. Can you tell? That’s who you are – even if you don’t have all the money in the world to buy all the clothes you like, the truth is, even if you could buy all Champs Élysées, one never falls off very far from their personal taste. It’s just there. Money just refines it and gives a person more access to things.

You do not need to go out to buy new things for your session. Take a serious look at what you like in your wardrobe and then you may want to go shopping for something else. We always have lots of interesting pieces. Be honest and pick your absolute favorite pieces and start coordinating everything else around them.

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What are the colors you enjoy the most on yourself? Most of the time we do not pay attention to this detail, but colors tell a lot about a person and it can also bring the best and the not so best out of anyone.

To coordinate colors is an art and that’s probably on of the most difficult subjects when studying fashion design! We used to make endless exercises on colors and study all the psychological impact that colors have on a person’s mind. For instance, the color purple is not found in abundance in nature.

In the old days, the color purple was a privilege of the royalty because only the nobles had an army of people available to extract those colors from nature to dye their garments with. The color purple has been associated with royalty, power and wealth for centuries. In fact, Queen Elizabeth I forbad anyone except close members of the royal family to wear it. Purple’s elite status stems from the rarity and cost of the dye originally used to produce it.

Sorry for the long explanation here but that’s how intricate colors can be!

Daria Ratliff Senior Photographer Katy TX Houston Studio, Carla Sganderlla, studio houston, West Houston Photographer in Katy Texas; Daria Ratliff Photography, Senior portrait Photographer in Katy Houston TX

Carla Sganderlla Senior Portrait Photography in Houston, Texas.

But don’t fret! Let’s think of your surroundings first! When photographing in the country or in an area with lots of greens, I would say avoid-green-as-much-as-you-can. You can bring lots of warm colors when surrounded by green.

It works  wonders with reds, pinks, yellows, even with  pale colors. The cold colors such as blues and violets are beautiful too and they can complement the warm colors or make the look vice-versa too.

Here are some colors that work well together (purple, lime green, denim) or maybe (pink, gray, yellow). Oh, and Cyan, orange, off whites and yellows. But wait until we talk about our next subject…

The location of your photos

This is very very important to think! If you and your photographer decided that the session will take place by a windmill field during the sunset hour, how about thinking windmill-sunset-hour-for-your-session? Think that the golden hour will bring a lot of warmth to your images along with a ‘country’ feeling, so plan accordingly.

The same rule goes to urban places where a more modern look might work better.

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For some West Houston and Katy, Tx, locations, read this article here.

Don’t match: Coordinate!

Start with a basic color palette or a certain style and go from there. Matching can often look boring and uninteresting. It’s a comfort zone to go with something matching, and don’t get me wrong, kids can match in a beautiful and fun way, but the entire family might look tiring after a while.

CAUTION- What I often see on family portraits is that dads look too buttoned up during their sessions. RELAX! Dads can be fun and colorful too! Those shirts tucked into khakis/belts are great for monday morning meetings but let’s give dads a break here! If you’re starting form scratch with a limited budget, go to Old Navy, as they normally have outfits for the entire family that coordinates really well.

If you do decide to dress everyone in the SAME color, please choose different garments and patterns.  I find the look of a family all dressed in white, black, or blue button-down shirts to be a bit boring.  I also always prefer cream, charcoal, or gray to white or black.  It’s just less severe.

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Sarah Venancio Photo Session in Katy, Texas – Kids look amazing with stripes!


There are an enormous variety out there but here’s where you can get very very creative just be cautious to not overdo it.

Hats, scarves, bow ties, flowers, blankets, umbrella… the list is much greater then this but you get the picture.

An accessory is supposed to complement your look, to give a sense of “finish touch’ – Unless you have a neutral outfit and you want to really get lots of focus on a beautiful scarf or a stunning hat.

A word about watches and brands

We all, no exception here, love a certain type of brand or would love to show how magnificent out timepiece is!

That’s fine but the photo session is about you.

Brands are created to draw attention and appeal to our senses so when wearing something recognizable as a famous brand, think that It can be distracting and normally the eye of the viewer inevitably goes onto the graphic and then you.

Shoes and… no shoes!

A pair of shoes, in its core, can be the most important accessory you can pick for your session. They become a big statement if you really aim for it and I’m all for great shoes, specially for women and children. Boots are a must and particularly kids look beyond adorable when wearing rainy boots.

For women, think about the enormous style and interest you can bring into your images when wearing a bright, fun color pair of shoes! The choices are overwhelming so be creative and give yourself permission to be creative.

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But… also there is another option: no shoes!

Barefooted is undoubtedly a smart choice if you’re looking into something more organic and natural. The only thing I have to say is that if you’re not a person who doesn’t go very often barefooted maybe your feet will not be a very good sport.

Again, you want to be comfortable and in total control of what you like and what it will work for you.

Don’t lose site of yourself!

I know, I know, this is so hard to think after reading all of the previous tips but this is by far the most important thing to consider when hiring a photographer to register your moments. Don’t fall into going too far off from who you are. Plan everything in a accordance with your personal style and what you really enjoy wearing. Kids in particular really want to be comfortable to run, so don’t lock their spirit with clothes that can be itchy or limit their movements.

so, what should I wear for my photo session? Always ask yourself!

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Normally before a session most photographers will have in mind something interesting to bring into the scene.

The trunk of my car is a photographer’s haven most of the time and I try to vary as much as I can because I know how important props are when photographing people.

It works wonders with kids but I also always ask the parents to bring their favorite toy along, especially if the toy is a dear friend of the little one, so it’s always a good memory to register.

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The timeless look

One last thing to consider is a look that is timeless. By timeless we know that it should be something that no matter how many years pass by, when you get that outfit  again in the future, you’ll feel like it’s still updated and precious. Fashion has always its way of coming and going and we all adapt into new trends and looks but a timeless piece follows a simple, rigid body structure. In other words, think about a pair of jeans. It can be flare, boot cut, low or high waist but the simple cut pair of jeans that will always remain is the one that sits on your waist and it goes down following the length of you legs. That’s a classic piece and it’s always there for you.

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Lisa Ratliff by Daria Ratliff . West Houston Photographer in Katy, Texas.

I hope this article will guide you and I also hope that your main focus is get everything thought out ahead of time so at the time of your session, you and your family are confident and comfortable! I put together two boards on Pinterest that I particularly like when searching for ideas for your wardrobe. One is the Outdoor Family Portrait Ideas and the second is the Fashion board that is for women in particular.

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