Outfit suggestions for your portrait photography session and the bullshit most photographers will tell you.

man in a rainbow coloured suit giving the thumbs up sign

The choice of “proper” or “appropriate” clothing for your portrait session is usually seen as a critical factor in the preparation, but I believe this can entirely depend on how you interpret ‘proper’ and ‘appropriate’. Most photographers will tell you that if the clothing is noticeable or overbearing in a portrait it will be a distraction, therefore, clothing that does not attract attention to itself is the typical recommendation or goal. I say fuck that. I want you to wear the thing that makes you feel the most fabulous, whether that’s all black, a full sequined ball gown or your birthday suit. I think it’s better to let your outfit enhance your personality in a shoot–not dull it. 

But, if you want some ideas to get you feeling your best, I got you.

Types of clothes and outfits that you can wear for a photoshoot

Light-coloured clothing can look beautifully fresh and clean. I love seeing my clients really go for this look, but some have expressed the worry about appearing larger than they are in real life. If you feel this is true for you then it’s safer to avoid wearing white as it’s reflective and picks up light from all angles. In my opinion, you can still make wearing white work for you! It all comes down to the styling. My tip is to wear something like a white or neutral-colored shirt and/or blouse paired with something to balance it out, like a dark jacket. This is a way to keep it looking fresh and flattering to any figure. One thing to bear in mind is that white is a very common look for a lot of Instagram influencers, and most photos that you’ll see of them are highly filtered and/or photoshopped. I don’t have anything against that type of photography and editing, but that’s not really my style. I do as little editing as possible and try to ensure that the photo still looks like you in post-production.

Dark clothing is usually very flattering for most people and often has a slenderising effect, so if that’s how you want to appear, then go for it. If you want to say, fuck it, then re-read light-colored clothing above or bright colors below. (Side rant: not saying that slender = better. I feel like we should start questioning why it is that we’ve been conditioned to believe this *cough cough* unrealistic modern beauty standards *cough cough* patriarchy.) Why else does dark clothing look great in photoshoots, and why do people typically recommend it, especially for portraits? It typically helps blend bodies in with the background, making your face the focal point of the photograph. This is great if that’s the look you’re after; wearing dark colors to a photoshoot works very well for headshots, particularly if you need the photos to be more traditionally professional.

Bright colours tend to attract attention away from the face and may also be reflective. However, this is not to say you shouldn’t wear them. If you have a sequined blue jacket that perfectly matches your gorgeous blue eyes, bring it on! I am a firm believer that we express ourselves through our clothes, hair and make up, so why wouldn’t you want your true personality to shine through in portraits of you–the real you? 

Something that’s worth noting is that, certain colours can, at times, affect your skin tone in the final images. If you are prone to blushing then it actually might be best to avoid wearing red, bright pink, or orange, for example. When choosing outfits, stick to one you would usually wear to feel great in, don’t go rogue for the shoot if it isn’t something you’d normally put on, as you’ll likely look back and wonder what the hell you were thinking.

Still not sure what to wear? Check out this article on colour theory, maybe it'll give you some inspo based on the meaning behind certain colours!

Patterns and Prints. Photographers will often tell you that prints and patterns, including logos, are a definite NO. There is some truth in this; I don’t love shooting stripes or polka dots for example as they cause funky distortions to the final images which are a ball ache to correct in the edits. However, patterned clothes exist and have existed for centuries and fashion photographers manage to do it, so I actually think this is just down to laziness on the photographer's part if they flat out refuse. I’m never going to tell you that I won’t shoot you in patterned clothing if that is what you genuinely love to wear, but definitely reach out to me and I’ll likely suggest we shoot a mixture of outfits just to cover all bases! When in doubt, just bring a few options and I’ll help with styling as well. 

How to accessorise and style your photoshoot

Steph wears a trench coat loosely over her shoulders in the middle of a field at sunset for an effortlessly glamorous look.

Don’t over accessorise! Overbearing or heavily noticeable accessories can be a major distraction. Many photographers will tell you that wearing simple and minimal accessories to a photoshoot will work best. I say big and bold accessories can look incredible, however, it does work best when it’s a statement piece. I’d recommend bringing a selection of accessories to a photoshoot, like jewellery, headbands, scarves, sunglasses, and/or hats, and we’ll work together to include them into your photo-ready outfits.

Glasses. Eyeglasses may or may not be worn–it’s up to you! Non-reflective lenses, of course, are a big help, but not a dealbreaker. If you’re particularly worried about the glare, it’s sometimes possible to obtain a matching set of frames without any lenses. This is particularly helpful if your lenses sometimes distort the outline of your face. If you can’t get lens-less glasses before a shoot or don’t have pair, don’t worry. We’ll figure out a way to make the angles and lighting work. 

Makeup, Hair & Nails. You hairstyles should be whatever the fuck you want it to be. Hair falling down onto the sides of the face can sometimes create distracting shadows, and you know what? Sometimes it simply looks fucking incredible. If any adjustments are needed during a shoot, I’ll help with that to get a particular shot. One good tip: long fringes/bangs that come down too low onto the face (e.g. anywhere from mid-eyelid downward) will prevent light from getting into your beautiful eyes a.k.a. the most attention-grabbing part of your face, so if you can, make sure it’s freshly trimmed ahead of time (unless you’re going for Sia vibes, in which case, rock that look).

It’s a great idea to have your makeup and hair professionally applied for your photography session if you feel like treating yourself, or you have the means to do this, but it is in no way a must. Most of the people I shoot don’t go down this route, and I think you’ll agree with me that they all look fucking incredible. I do, however, highly recommend that nails are freshly painted or natural i.e. no chipped nail polish! This is really difficult to touch up in post-production edits, plus, it just looks better when it’s all or nothing.

Necklines. The most flattering neckline for anyone is something that comes up close to the neck. A wide-open neckline tends to thicken your neck in a photograph as an optical illusion. On the other hand, a neckline that comes up to the base of the neck; either a turtleneck or a v-neck top is the most flattering. It tends to slim down the person and frames the face beautifully. But honestly, if your fave top doesn’t match this description, fuck it–we’ll use it anyway!

My top tip for choosing photoshoot outfits. Lay out all the clothing onto your bed–everything should be included…shoes, too! Then, take a careful look at the collection. If your eye goes to any one item in particular, you can be sure that the same thing will happen in a photograph. So think about whether or not that is the desired outcome, and if not, swap that item out! If you’re not sure, feel free to take a photo and send it over. I’ll be happy to chat to you about our outfit choices and what might work.

What you should know about doing a nude photoshoot

Naked as the day you were born. If you want to do a fine art nude photoshoot I’m super happy to discuss this with you when you book. We’ll go through ideas of location (in public, in your home, etc.), the types of poses we’ll work with and also how we can incorporate some beautiful fabric that fits you and your personality as a prop or background (perhaps you’re very patriotic and want to utilize a flag, or you want to wear nothing but your favorite silk scarf). I edit final images to a minimal standard, so it will be 100% you in all your beautiful glory! Please also note that whilst I’ll make you look and feel hot AF during your shoot, I don’t do glamour or graphic shots. 

The most important thing for a nude photoshoot is to make sure you feel comfortable. If you in any way start to feel uncomfortable, we’ll stop and figure out a way to make it more accommodating for you.

How to have a successful a pregnancy photoshoot

Nina looking sultry and sexy in a red silk dress, cradling her bump

In a pregnancy photoshoot, the goal is to show off that incredible baby bump so bring a shirt that can be unbuttoned or a cropped top. Please encourage your partner to come along if you wish (ideally they’ll dress in solid black or white so the focus stays primarily on you). Several poses with your hands showing will be taken, so be sure to remove any jewellery that you don’t want in the pictures.

Depending on how far along you are, we’ll try a few different types of poses. Standing with a profile view, lying on your side, or sitting with your partner are all solid choices, but we can play around with different angles and positions.

The last thing to know is...

You should, at all times, feel comfortable during your photoshoot with me. That said, I’ll never ask you to do anything that you’re uncomfortable with. We’ll discuss the details of your shoot in advance so that you can tell me any concerns you might have so we can address those. Please be upfront and honest in regard to what you would like or don’t like, and are willing to do. I promise that we will try to capture exactly the vibe you are looking for (you can even send me a mood board in advance! I actually love receiving these...)

Interested in what my previous shoots and portrait photography style looks like? Check out my portfolio here, or get in touch to book your next photoshoot with me!

Zero fucks given…how to stop caring and live your awesome life.