Here's the break down:
When choosing an outfit, I want my clients to feel comfortable and feel themselves, but there are some tricks for the photo shoot to look its best and for the client to feel their best about the outcome of the product. Locations and outfits go hand in hand for me because they play a huge role in how I shoot, edit, and ultimately how the entire images’ mood and focus is perceived by the viewer. When I’m choosing outfits, I am wanting them to compliment not only the client, but also the location’s tones, colors, shapes and textures. Ultimately, I want you guys to look like yourselves. I don’t want you to feel like if you don’t follow these guidelines that your photos are going to suck. The most important thing to me is that you guys feel and look like yourselves, how you normally dress, so you can be as comfortable as possible! A lot of people try to go shopping for new clothes for the shoot beforehand, but I actually recommend not going that route. Bring stuff you normally wear, stuff that’s already in your closet that you love and feel your best. An old band t shirt and ripped jeans? Perfect. A lot of my clients will go shopping for “nicer” looking clothes which is totally fine, but sometimes they regret not just wearing what they feel like themselves in. Plus, guys are usually not all that stoked about putting on a collared ironed button up with dress shoes if they’re used to wearing flannels every day. Pinky promise that they’ll be way more happy to be at the shoot if you don’t force an outfit he thinks is stupid.
I always suggest my clients to bring options so that they don’t show up to a shoot with just one outfit, because what happens if the outfit isn’t that great? Then you’re stuck with it and can’t do anything about it. Typically, I tell my clients to bring around 5 shirts each and 3 pairs of pants/bottoms, so we can mix and match them to look best with each location and the light we have.
Sometimes it’s tempting for you to want to wear things that may look really cool or pretty in photos, but maybe aren’t always the most comfortable or realistic option depending on the circumstances. If you’re not comfortable in your clothes, you’re going to look pretty uncomfortable in all of the photos. I want you to not only represent of who you are, but that you need to make sure you’ll be super comfortable in! If it’s snowing outside, don’t wear heels and a skirt. If you’re shooting on a sandy beach, it will probably look funny if you aren’t barefoot.
Anything that can show movement or catch wind is a YES in my books. I love incorporating movement into my photos in any way that I can since it adds energy to images just like her dress caught the wind. Be sure to iron your clothes so big huge wrinkles aren’t distracting from your faces! The stiffer the material, the less you’ll be able to move, meaning you’ll probably be a lot less comfortable! If it’s going to be cold, opt for warmer materials that hold in heat like flannel or wool. If it’s going to be hot, opt for cooler materials that can breathe so you don’t have sweat. Yuck.
I typically recommend sticking with neutral and earthy tones. Neutrals doesn’t mean just grays or browns. There are neutrals for every single color! Instead of green, go for a soft forest green. Instead of red, go with a deep maroon. Instead of yellow, go for a mustard yellow and so on. Stay away from bright, florescent distracting colors. The only specific colors I recommend staying away from are pinks, bright oranges, and reds unless you have dark or olive toned skin which might be an exception with the lighting conditions. A lot of the time it will result in people looking really pink and weird in photos. My tip is to stay away from those colors but if you really want to wear something that are those colors just check with me first! As far as choosing colors, I base them on location, I’ll usually try to color match the tones and colors of outfits with elements in the environment if possible to help you blend in, helping your faces (aka where a large portion of emotion comes from) stand out more. If the location is really simple as far as colors and tones go, I’ll choose something that stands out a little more to add interest to the images and pull the viewer into the subjects, like choosing outfits that add contrast to the image (usually black or darker tones).
If you bring pattern options, I typically only like having one piece of what your wearing to have a loud pattern just because if you have too many going on the image can be too busy and distracting from your faces. This example of pattern is perfect for the location and it is complimented by his outfit choice. Combining patterns can be tricky, so just make sure that the patterns in the clothing aren’t fighting with the patterns in the location. If the patterns in either the location or the clothing are soft and subtle, I don’t find it an issue to combine them. But if both locations have loud patterns I will opt for a simpler outfit with little to no pattern.
Big chunky patterns are a no no. Unless we’re shooting fashion, I recommend you stay away from big patterns since they can be super distracting especially from your faces. I love patterns, but typically only shoot them if they’re subtle and not distracting from your heads! Flannels are always a yes for me since my style is really earthy and I’m also obsessed with flannels, they’re never really distracting to me either. I just make sure the color of the flannel is neutral!
shapes and textures
These play a huge role in how I shoot with framing, posing, and of course outfit choices. I typically tend to lean more towards simplicity rather than lots of clutter and noise in images (which there’s nothing wrong with, it’s just an artistic choice!). If there’s lots of texture and shapes in the location and you choose a stand out outfit, you might get lost in all the detail. If there’s minimal texture and shapes and you choose a super simple outfit it may not draw the viewer in as much as it could. So, if there are lots of different shapes and textures in a location (like the first photo by the brooklyn bridge), I’ll opt for a simpler outfit to help the client stand out more. If the location has minimal texture or really big shapes to frame you within, I’ll go with an outfit that stands out more like these women did in this example. Other times, you can combine simple with simple and loud textures with loud locations. Like colors, you can use complimentary textures and shapes through tools like patterns, materials, accessories, etc.
complimentary vs matching
Complimentary is good. Matching is bad. When people match, they tend to blend together too much, ending up looking like a big blob in photos like this one. Complimentary means the variety of colors, textures, accessories, patterns, and tones all sing together while there is still separation from each of the subjects and the background.
Logos can be done well and so so wrong, it honestly just depends on each shirt. I typically encourage you to bring a variety of shirts so that in case the shirts you bring with graphics on it won’t look great in photos or be too loud, then I can just keep them in the other options!
I always encourage accessories! I love when clients bring hats, sunglasses, scarves, jewelry, etc because it adds more interest to the outfits rather than being too plain. The only accessory I don’t encourage is watches typically, since when couples hold each other’s faces it’s a big circle that is super distracting. If you really want to wear one, keep in mind you might have to take it on and off or may have to shoot the opposite side.
Props. I know what you’re thinking. The awful chalkboard photo or the oversized letter from a craft store representing your last name to hold. Yikes. But, props aren’t always a bad thing! I encourage you to be creative and I can help you if you’re lost. Some cool props like motorcycles, your cat or dog (*pup steals the show, fine with it*), blankets, your truck, some pizza and beer, a campfire, flowers/bouquet, or a picnic are some of my favorites.
All of the above applies but for in home’s, but I say the more skin showing, the better! That doesn’t mean you need to be naked, I’m just saying the photos will look more cozy and intimate than if you had a bunch of layers on. Let’s be real, most of us walk around without pants on at home anyways. I’d recommend having different options of tank tops, shorts, an oversized sweater and jeans to mix it up. Or if you want to wear your sweater and undies and have your babe be shirtless, heck yeah to that!
hair and makeup
A lot of people ask if it’s necessary to get your hair and makeup done by a pro. My answer will always be, whatever makes you feel best. The most important thing is that you feel confident, and if that’s getting all dolled up, do it! If not, don’t! Also, if you’re super pale like me, I recommend a VERY natural spray tan if you’re planning on getting one. For a self tanner, I recommend you go to Ulta and ask a representative for the best for your skin tone.