What to wear for your photos. And why it doesn’t really matter. | Calgary Family Photos

Most photographers would agree that there are a few “no no’s” when it comes to what you should wear when you have your photos taken.  I tried to follow the rules…and failed miserably.

what to wear for family photos

Photo credit: Sara Haynes

This is me and my cute family, taken by the talented Sara Haynes.  Let me start by saying that this is NOT the way it was supposed to be.  I didn’t start out the day thinking, “Let’s be a perfect example of what not to wear.”  It just turned out that way.

These are my rules that I didn’t follow:

  1. When it comes to colour, use variety.  Don’t be all matchy matchy.  If everyone in the photo is wearing the same thing, or the same colour, it doesn’t provide a lot of depth and excitement. When everyone blends together it’s kind of just blah.  And if it is the same colour, and it’s not an exact colour match, it ends up being just wrong.  As you can see, I didn’t listen to my advice.  We are all wearing the same colour – purple – and different shades of it, at that.  It was probably a good thing that our daughter was getting cold cause we threw on her jacket and it broke up the monotony a bit.  But that breaks my next rule…
  2. Avoid red and overly bright colours – aka fluorescent.  I love colour.  It’s definitely a lot more exciting than just wearing white or black or grey.  But red sometimes tricks the camera and/or makes the skin look a little off, so I often tell people to avoid it, especially if it’s right next to your face.  And fluorescent?  That’s just asking for trouble.  But you almost don’t notice Leah’s fluorescent orange shoes in this shot cause you’re so distracted by her pant legs that I forgot to pull down.
  3. Wear what you are comfortable in – something that is “you.”  This is the one where I recommend that people NOT go out and buy a new outfit for their photo shoot.  You’re already investing in photos.  Who needs the extra cost?  But it’s not just that.  Honestly, often people look at their photos and realize it’s not a true reflection of themselves.  Instead they see themselves in a shirt that they ran out and bought at the last minute to look good in their photos.  If I would have followed this rule I could have saved a lot of last minute stress. (hold on for the back story)
  4. Avoid logos/cartoons on shirts.  Not only are logos and other images distracting, but they can also date the photo.  If you want timeless photos, or ones that you won’t mind hanging on your walls for years, it’s best to stick to solids or classic patterns.  But my husband really loves this cute little cartoony jacket…and there you have it.

But rules are meant to be broken, right?  And now for the back story…

I had a super cute outfit picked out for our family photos – one that made me look skinny, of course.

Being the mom – never mind a photographer – I assumed it was my decision as to what we would wear for our pictures.  That was SO not the case.

My husband came home and innocently asked, “so what do you want me to wear?”  I layed his shirt out for him.  He hated it.   So he decided to choose another shirt that didn’t go with mine.  And that was that.  I was forced to change my outfit on the fly.

And my daughter?  Well, I had gone out at the last minute and bought a cute little shirt that I hadn’t had a chance to try on her yet.  I was a little stressed that it wouldn’t fit…but that stress was replaced with horror when I realized that it was nowhere to be found.  Nowhere.

Somewhere between the mall, grabbing veggies from the market, and then picking my daughter up from grandma’s, I had lost the shirt.  To this day, I still haven’t found it.  I’m sure it will turn up in our freezer or a Tupperware container or some other random place one day.  But that’s how we “toddler moms” roll, right?

Long story short, I picked something out of her closet.  Something that she was comfortable in.  Something that wouldn’t make her cry.

And then we rushed out the door in a frenzy to meet our lovely photographer, Sara, and she captured many amazing moments, including this:

what to wear for photos Calgary family photographer

Photo credit: Sara Haynes

The moral of the story:  Do whatever you need to do.  Wear whatever you want to wear.  Really, there are no “rules.”  And there is no judgement.

At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what you wear.  It just matters that you are.  

5 years from now you probably aren’t going to look back at your photos and think “oh I wish we weren’t all wearing different shades of purple.”  Instead, you will likely be grateful for the real moments that were captured, the memories to cherish and the stories you get to tell.

So don’t stress yourself out trying to decide on what to wear cause at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter.  But maybe brush your hair.  You can’t go wrong with that.  🙂


Kate Daniel is a natural light photographer specializing in lifestyle, family and children photography in the Calgary, Alberta area.

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