When I was about to have my own engagement photos taken, what to wear was easily one of the most anxiety-inducing issues. Oh, if you could have seen me the morning of our session, frantically combing the aisles of Target, absently flinging accessories into my cart and hoping for a fashion miracle. Thankfully, I had my level-headed beau with me, who gingerly plucked out some of my less impressive choices and narrowed me down to one good scarf. But hey, that scarf did the trick.
I recommend every couple and family I photograph have two outfits, because changing clothes lends variety to your photos in a way that swapping locations can’t. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, my advice is simple, and two-fold: First, think ahead. Don’t wait until the night before your session to start planning. Begin gathering inspiration from your favorite websites and magazines well before it’s time to decide. Likewise, if you’re going to shop, shop purposefully. Have some ideas in mind before you head out to the stores. That doesn’t mean you have to know exactly what you want, but it will help you keep the bigger picture in focus. Second, start with one full outfit and build from there. Using Glen and me as an example, I had one dress that I knew I wanted to wear, and Glen had one shirt that he loved. We each laid out our first choice wardrobe across our bed, and using trial and error found the other’s match. This included our accessories!
Need more guidelines? Here are my suggestions:
- BE COMFORTABLE AND BE YOURSELF! If you never wear skirts or curl your hair, don’t find yourself in a dress, coiffed up like it’s junior prom. If your fiancé has never seen suspenders in his life, don’t suddenly string him up in a pair. Don’t get me wrong — I love dresses and curls and suspenders and bow ties. But if you don’t, you’re not going to be able to relax in front of the camera. I encourage you to glam up your day-to-day with a fancy necklace or bright yellow shoes (because everybody feels special in new duds), but be realistic and stick to what screams your style. Unless, of course, your style is sweatpants. Because I really just can’t condone sweatpants. I’m sorry, but let’s be real: Your grandmother is going to see these photos. Don’t disappoint your grandmother.
- Color! Avoid solid white or solid black shirts.
- Stay away from very small patterns; they disappear on camera. But big bold prints are great!
- Try to pick out a mix of casual and dressy clothes.
- Accessorize! Seriously. Take that outfit you laid out earlier and throw in an eye-catching statement piece. Cute shoes, fun ties, hats, scarves, hair flowers, necklaces — every little addition all helps.
- STUFF! YOUR STUFF! If you play an instrument, ride an awesome bike, have a sweet puppy, own a one-of-a-kind antique chair, whatever: BRING IT! I recently shot an engagement session on the gent’s boat because he was an avid fisherman. Your photos are about you, so personalize them with things that represent your life.
- You don’t have to match exactly — in fact, I recommend you don’t. Pick a color, a favorite shirt or some other theme and build around that. Here’s one of my favorite examples:
If you’re still scratching your head, I’m always happy to give an opinion. (Believe me, I’m never short on opinions.) Please don’t hesitate to ask!