Struggling with what to wear for your senior portrait session? I’m here to help! Take a few minutes to look through this handy guide, and then get ready to look fabulous in front of the camera!
Rule #1 (and really, it’s the only rule): Whatever you decide to wear, be sure it is COMFORTABLE! There’s nothing worse than trying to smile and focus on your pictures when your shirt has a scratchy tag, or your shoes are a half size too small. Try everything on well before the day of your session to be sure it all fits and is comfortable.
“Variety's the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour.” (William Cowper, The Task). Follow Mr. Cowper’s sage advice and bring a variety of clothing to your portrait session. There is no limit to the number of outfit changes you can have during our time together (though keep in mind that more time spent changing clothes means less time in front of the camera, so don’t go too crazy). Bring some casual outfits, some dressy stuff, and maybe let Mom pick out something as well, just to keep her happy. Guys, please consider bringing a suit! Yes, I know you just want to wear jeans and t-shirts, but I have never photographed a guy in a suit who did not look completely fabulous.
Now let’s talk colors and patterns and what looks good to the camera:
Bring clothing in a variety of colors. Blue may be your favorite color (mine too!) but try to incorporate other colors into your session wardrobe as well.
In general, avoid all-white shirts or dresses. Solid white clothing photographed out in the summer sun is just a LOT of white. You don’t have to avoid white completely, however. White pieces with a nice pattern on them will break up the brightness.
Traditionally, clothing with patterns was considered a no-no for portraits. Nonsense! Florals and other patterns look lovely in pictures! But here’s something to keep in mind when choosing patterned items – really large patterns tend to look even larger in photos and can sometimes become the focal point of the image. We want to keep the focus on you, not your clothes! So smaller patterns are best.
Solids (except white, mentioned above) work really well in photos. They don’t distract from your face and are great for black and white photos.
Other clothing considerations:
Avoid clothes that wrinkle easily. Yes, you can iron them before you leave the house, but by the time they travel to your session they may get wrinkly again.
Trendy vs classic. This is always a tough one. Classic styles are classic for a reason. They look good and are timeless. Trends come and go, and sometimes we hop on the style bandwagon and then ten years later we’re like, “What was I thinking??” Keep this in mind when selecting items for your session wardrobe. Yes, you want to commemorate the You of right now in these pictures, but you also want to look back at them when you’re older and not cringe at what you’re wearing.
Avoid shirts with words or large graphics. Again, we’re aiming for timeless looks.
Only wear it if you love it. If you hate the outfit, it will definitely show on your face in the pictures.
Shoes: I’ll be doing some full-length shots so be sure you have clean ones to go with each outfit.
Don’t forget the accessories! Hats, scarves, necklaces, earrings – wear them to enhance the overall look of your outfit, but don’t let them overpower it.
Do you have a band or sports uniform that you’d like to incorporate into your session? How about a varsity letter jacket or class ring? Maybe even your homecoming, prom, or ball dress? Bring them along and we’ll get some shots with them!
Need some wardrobe inspiration? Pinterest is a gold mine of senior portrait ideas!
When in doubt, feel free to text me pictures of some of the outfits that you are considering, and I will be happy to help you decide!
Hair: If you’re planning to get a haircut or try a new style prior to your session, be sure to do it at least a couple of weeks beforehand. Also, avoid trying anything drastically new right before your session.
Makeup: Don’t deviate too much from how you would normally wear it. Maybe add just a touch more to the eyes so that they are well-defined in your pictures. Be sure all makeup is well-blended, especially onto your neck. Avoid glitter makeup.
Nails: Be sure they are neatly trimmed with a fresh coat of polish if desired. This is a great excuse to get a manicure! Also consider a pedicure if you’ll be wearing sandals or open-toed shoes.
Tan lines: We all love to get that nice summer tan at the beach, but tan lines are notoriously hard to fix when editing photos. If you can, avoid getting too much sun in the weeks prior to your session, or plan your session wardrobe to conceal the tan lines.
Shaving: Guys, be sure to get a nice close shave before your session. If you normally have facial hair, be sure it is neatly trimmed for your pictures.
Glasses: Reflections in eyeglasses are difficult to work with. If you ask your optometrist, sometimes it is possible to borrow frames with no lenses in them, and some will even be willing to remove the lenses from your own frames for the day. But if those aren’t options for you don’t worry. We’ll use some posing tricks to keep the glare off those glasses if necessary.
Props: OK, they aren’t clothing, but they are a type of accessory! I love incorporating props into senior sessions. They show what your passions are and what makes you YOU. Here’s just a small list of props to consider bringing for your session:
Sports items: soccer balls, footballs, basketballs, baseballs, gloves, tennis rackets, lacrosse sticks, hockey and field hockey sticks, bowling balls, swim goggles, skates, skateboards. You can also consider bringing a ribbon or trophy that’s important to you.