If you’ve booked a photography session and now you’re wondering what to wear, this post summarizes everything I tell my clients and will give you some helpful tips. Clothing makes a huge difference in how your photos turn out and it’s also one of the easiest things to control. I put together this list of dos and don’ts for you to reference to help ensure that you love how your pictures turn out. If you follow this guide it will help you find something that is not only flattering for you but will also photograph really well and help ensure that you love your photos forever. 

san francisco family photographer

Dress Up Not Down

Maybe in your real life you don’t walk barefoot at the beach or through a field wearing a beautiful flowing dress but that’s okay. My goal is to capture the best of you on the best medium (film) and for us to create art together. These images will hang on your wall, go into your albums and be shared with friends and family. I want you to look and feel your best so that you love your images and are excited to share them. Because of that, I recommend a dress for women, and long and flowing is universally flattering. This is also a great opportunity for your husband and/or kids to get dressed up – here are some of my favorite examples of couples who went all out:

Don’t Match Your Clothing too Much

There is nothing cheesier than a whole group showing up in the same shirt or same color. Please please don’t do this. I know it’s easier especially if you have a few kids but it is not a good choice for pictures. You can stay within the same color family but that’s as close as you should get. It’s much more visually interesting to have variety. Here are a few examples of outfits that go well together but aren’t fully matching:

When in Doubt Wear White 

I don’t think you can over do white. It’s universally flattering, it helps reflect light to your face and brighten up images and it’s so simple that it won’t take away or distract from the images and connection. If you don’t feel like you’re great at choosing clothes then just keep it simple and go with white.

Keep Patterns Simple 

Checkerboard patterns or loud colors will distract from the images and the emotion you want to capture and convey. If you want to wear a pattern or stripe just make sure the colors are calm or muted and the pattern isn’t screaming for attention. Remember the quote – “simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication.” Accessories and jewelry fall into this as well, less is more. Here are some clothes with patterns and you can see that since the colors and patterns are simple, they photograph really well:

Pay Attention to Fabrics

Pay attention to the fabric that you choose to wear, high quality materials will always photograph better than cheap ones. I know there are so many amazing options for affordable clothes nowadays but if you’re able to purchase from an ethical company that uses natural fabrics it is a wonderful option. Regardless of what you choose, mixing different textures is great for pictures, you can choose silk, linen, cotton or knits and layer and/or mix between family members. Mixing keeps you from matching too much and keeps things visually interesting.

Keep Colors Light and Muted

Studying color theory in college was one of my favorite things. Playing around with and figuring out which colors look good together has always been fascinating to me and it’s amazing how much the color palette can affect the outcome of your images. Through the hundreds of shoots I’ve done, I’ve noticed that a calm and light color palette always photographs well and clients are usually happiest with their photos when that’s what they choose. It pairs really well with my photography style which people often describe as soft and romantic.

And Finally, Get Your Hair and Makeup Done

Makeup photographs duller in photos than it looks in real life so going to a professional ensures that you will feel confident and will love how you look in the photos. You don’t need to go overboard but a professional will be able to highlight your best features. If you prefer to do your own makeup, just make sure to go a little bolder than you do in your everyday life. Also, make sure your nails are clean and if you want to get them painted, keep it to a light neutral.

More Examples of What to Wear to Your Photography Session

I hope these tips have been helpful, if you have any other questions about what to wear or not to wear, feel free to comment below or send me an email. If you want to see some more images from any of these sessions, here is a link to this families beautiful spring session, a motherhood session with simple patterns, and a great example of how well white photographs. If you want some examples of where to shop for your session, I love Zara, Doen, Jamie Kay and Nothing Fits But. If you’re a client of mine then, I can also send links to outfits that I think will work well for you. Your photography session is the time to show up in your best and I’m here to help make that easy for you.


I love all the suggestions you gave. You are absolutely right when in doubt wear white. I do that a lot.

katrina m kroeplin

These are great tips. I love having my picture taken by a pro, it’s so much fun.

Thank you for these tips. I admit that it can be quite challenging to pick clothes for a photo shoot.

Couldn’t agree more to wear white when in doubt! Thanks for the tips and ideas.


Great ideas on how to dress for pictures. Love it, thanks for sharing!

I love your dress up tips! I agree! We should always be photo ready for all those priceless moments! Love the photos!

Daniel Sierra

I wish I had such beautiful photos as yours. I am definitely following your advice for my next family photoshoot

simple Patterns – yes! Anything too loud really does not look good on pictures. I love natural soft colors, like most of the ones that you have shown for pictures, but the red dress was also very pretty blessings!

Those are some great tips to keep in mind and Definitely learned a lot. It’s been a while since we had a proper photography session and would love to schedule one soon.

Elizabeth O

It makes sense to choose white if you’re not sure about what color to wear. It always photographs so well!

Yes! It’s easy and looks great on everyone.

What beautiful photos. I have always wanted to have that kind of memories. You are doing an amasing job.

Glad that someone said it! Am not a big fan of matchy matchy clothing in photoshoots too. these are great suggestions — we’ve always worn bright and happy colors in our shoots, but i’ll take your comment to go muted instead 🙂

They were very useful tips even more because they come from those who know this world well and know how to get the maximum yield!

Dris W

wow these r stunning!! thanks for sharing these tips, definitely going to use them for the next photshoot

Gervin Khan

it is such a wonderful article with so detailed information about what and why. I’ve learned a lot, and give a positive thought on the importance of what we wear on the camerea.

These are really good tips! I like that you suggested simple prints and white colored clothes. It is easier to choose a better background if your clothes colors are not too “Loud.”

Totally! It’s best to pick a beautiful background and wear something simple so you aren’t competing visually with it.

These are great tips. I like the wear white one — it does photography well for almost everyone, doesn’t it?

Absolutely! It’s a classic look.

LOVE the tips here! It’s so hard to know what to wear to a family photo shoot.

I think this is going to help so many people have much better family shoots. These commemorate moments in time that last a lifetime. It should be beautiful!

I absolutely adore these tips! I never realized how often my family and I get too “matchy matchy” when we do family photos.

Thank you, I’m glad they helped!

Kevin Brotac

I did not know how important clothing is for family photoshoots I am definitely paying more attention to what we wear for our next family photoshoot

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