I have NOTHING to wear...
Oh yes, you do. Let's learn how to compile outfits for your photoshoot.
Photo by Andrej Lišakov
I know the feeling. You're standing in your closet, staring at the array of garments before you, wondering which are viable options for your upcoming photoshoot. Let me be the first to say: you don't need to buy new clothes JUST for a shoot - what you have in your closet is more than suitable. Answering two key questions will set you on your way to creating picture-perfect outfit options for your next session.
Selecting Your Outfit using "What" and "Why?"
Before the closet rummaging begins, let's answer TWO key questions:
Why am I doing this shoot?
What do I expect out of the session?
Knowing the answers to these questions will prove vital in two ways:
They narrow down the options you have when choosing outfits.
If you share your answers with your photographer, you further clarify your needs. Thus, you increase your chances of receiving photos you WANT and love from your session.
I always tell my clients: "The more detail you provide about your needs, the better prepared and confident we all will be at shooting time."
Photo by Charles Deluvio
Now, what you came here for: the outfit advice. Using your two answers, we'll determine the:
and styling of your outfit.
Formality, colors, and styling - these three elements are the backbone of your outfit creation, and misalignment between elements can destroy the look. Using examples from past sessions, we will define all three elements and conclude with a tool you can use to nail your photoshoot fashion.
First and foremost, formality! This category is easiest to determine based on your "Why" response. Though if you're not too sure which way to lean, here are "formality" suggestions depending on your type of photo session:
Casual: Couple, Family
Semi-casual: Couple, Engagement, Family, Lifestyle/Branding, Proposal, Senior
Formal: Business, Commercial, Editorial, Event, Fashion, Modeling Headshots, Weddings
These are loose suggestions acting as a guide. At the end of the day, do what fits you. If your family wants to stunt on all other families at Christmas card time, dress to the nines! If you want a hybrid editorial-senior session hosted at the Biltmore, dress the part! If you need couple photos taken in onesies, make it happen!
These sessions are all about you: bringing to life your visions. It's always good to have multiple outfit options of varying formalities on hand, just in case.
Art students, you know where we're going here.
Meet the Color Wheel, a.k.a. your new friend in the fashion scene. The color wheel illustrates color combinations that work well together and will be your guide in outfit prepping. To learn or review the color combinations on the wheel, I urge you to watch this video: (you can skip to the color wheel conversation at the 4:40 timestamp)
Photo by Jannet Serhan
Okay, we've refreshed the color wheel. How do I use it when planning my outfits? Here are some tips:
New to color? Stay simple and use accessories!
If you're like me, color is pretty scarce in your closet, surrounded by the mass of jeans, tan dress slacks, and neutral tees. Though if you want to test the waters of color, neutral-color pairings are a great start. If a colored shirt with jeans is too bold, incorporate color through accessories: purses, earrings, and even nail polish are some of my favorite ways to add dimension and fun to my otherwise plain pieces.
Use your environment as a guide:
Take into consideration your environment when choosing an outfit. Do you want to blend in, stand out, or sample colors from the environment? Here are two examples of each instance:
3. Consider Emotion and Seasons
a. Color is a powerful tool to indicate emotion and season. Reference Color Hunt's palettes to determine colors associated with specific occasions and seasons.
Phew, this has been A LOT of information! We're two-thirds of the way in, having studied formality and color. Now, for the final piece that brings it all together: styling.
Styling is a very individualized portion of fashion, with many aspects to consider: body shape, clothing shape, silhouette, and proportions, to name a few.
Photos by Alexi Romano
I am no style expert, nor do I think I should be telling you how to style. Instead, I want to expose you to some images and videos. Let yourself be inspired to research and experiment on your own... or not: