What Should I Wear To My Photo Session?

I get asked this here and there, but before I go on with this blog post, I want to tell you right now, to stop stressing about outfit choices! Outfits are NOT as important as you'd think for photos and when it comes down to it, just wear what makes you happy and let everyone feel comfortable!

If you still want ideas from someone who's seen certain things work over and over, check out the tips and tricks I have below and remember that they're only tips!


The main question is always, "what colors should we wear?". For starters, a lot of clients like when everyone's clothing colors are not the same as each other, but they flow or coordinate together - the match without matching outfits! I think this works well, too and is easier than buying matching outfits for the whole family! But, again, I just want everyone to wear what makes them comfortable!

what to wear to a photo session? Holly Butler Photography

Another idea is to have one person's piece of clothing, or accessory tie everyone else's clothing together.

what to wear to a photo session? Holly Butler Photography

For your family session: I heard someone say this off the wall idea that stuck with me: consider the colors in your home and wear colors that would go with your decor when the images are printed and on the wall!

For a head shot session: Think about the colors of your brand. You might not want to clash with the colors on your website, logo, or your business cards.

what to wear to a photo session? Holly Butler Photography

Tip: Keep in mind that wearing super bright colors/fluorescents, tend to cast a color glow on faces and necks. Those colors could also make you really stand out, amongst your family and some people don't like to be the center of attention. lol.

Flattering clothing tips:

Tip: Color blocking! This is what I seem to gravitate to myself for a slimming trick, so I preach it. I feel like it makes me appear taller, too. Here's what I've seen work and what I've personally done myself: If you wear a shirt, or dress underneath a fitted jacket, or sweater, the jacket or sweater will block part of the shirt/dress underneath and it magically creates longer lines and a slimming effect. The color of the top layer should be a contrast to your other clothing though! For instance, dark clothing under a light colored jacket, or vice versa. Again, doing this simple trick will create a long, slim line down the center of your body and it works extremely well, if that's what you're trying to do!

Tip: If you're trying to appear smaller in your photos, try not to add bulk with baggy clothes and try to avoid buldge from clothes that are too tight. Everyone's clothes should fit well. Not too small, but not too big either. If clothing is too big, the bulk could even make the tiniest person appear larger in their photos. If clothing is way too small, buldges may be created, which could also make the tiniest person look larger in their photos. I personally like to wear leggings, with a baggy t-shirt most of the time (okay, just about every day lol)... I'm good with the way it looks on me in the mirror, BUT it doesn't always translate well in photos! If that's what you want to wear, maybe because you want to wear leggings, or jeggings to avoid buldge, you could use a jacket, or sweater, like described above if you'd like. You would be using the color blocking trick AND you would be bringing the loose clothing closer to your body, which creates a more flattering shape.

Tip: If you're wearing a fitted jacket that you want to leave unbuttoned, but it pulls open with every move you make (or it's windy like in my photo below), tie both sides together with a string! It will bring the jacket closer to your body, creating flattering lines. A string is something I can easily Photoshop out and it really helped me with color blocking/creating flattering lines in the image below.

what to wear to a photo session? Holly Butler Photography

Tip: Try a belt, over a loose fitting dress, to flatter your waist, or cinch the inside of a loose shirt at the small or your back, with a hair band.

Tip: For an extremely baggy shirt, if you use a coin inside the bunched up material before adding a hair band for cinching, the cinch will stay put... In the iPhone shot below, the photo on the left side is the outside of the cinched shirt and the photo on the right is the inside, where you can see I used a penny, secured with a hair band. You don't have to use a coin, but it will make the cinch stay! I've walked around with a very wrinkly back one day because my hair band came off of my bunch of fabric and I didn't know it came off! Ever since then, I use a coin. :)

what to wear to a photo session? Holly Butler Photography


Patterns are good, but too many people wearing different patters *might* be over doing it. Again, use your own judgement, as these tips are only tips!

Tip: Maybe 1 person in a 5 person group could wear a bold pattern, 1 person could have a simple/muted pattern, like a plaid, then the rest of the group could wear a mix of solids, for instance. If everyone wears a bold pattern, it could look too busy, but again, if that's what you're going for, go for it!

Tip: If you're wanting to use patterns, but you're uncomfortable with the bottom half of your body, wear solid bottoms, paired with a patterned shirt. If you're uncomfortable with the top half of your body, wear a solid top, with patterned leggings, or a solid jacket, over a patterened dress. You could also wear a thin, fitted, solid color jacket over a loose, patterned shirt, to break up the pattern and again, you'd be creating a flattering color block.

what to wear to a photo session? Holly Butler Photography


Make sure the kids are comfortable, so they're happy and smiling! Same goes for the husbands lol! Actually, I want everyone to be comfortable. If your jeans are too tight, you're not going to be comfortable and you probably won't look comfortable in your photos. If your kids are wearing clothes that aren't warm enough, too small, too big, or something they're not used to, they could cry during the whole session. -I've done this with my kid with socks and boots before and she cried the entire family session we had done! I still have her crying picture on the wall because that was the reality of those moments. :)

Tips: If it's hot outside, roll up your jacket sleeves, trade in those long sleeves for short sleeves and trade the jeans for shorts and sun dresses. If it's going to be cold outside, make sure everyone has on layers to keep them warm... hats can work too and you could accessorize with cute, fitted jackets, scarves, coats, or vests.

what to wear to a photo session? Holly Butler Photography
what to wear to a photo session? Holly Butler Photography


If you scheduled a beach session, or a lifestyle baby session in your home, those are the best times to go barefoot! But, when you're going to wear shoes, try to wear shoes that go with the rest of your attire... Don't just throw on any old shoes, then wish later that each image was cropped at everyone's ankles (speaking from a past experience!).

•Make sure your children's shoes, or socks don't hurt their feet. I really want the kiddos to be comfortable, so they'll be smiling and laughing!

what to wear to a photo session? Holly Butler Photography

Accessorize and "go that extra mile":

Don't be afraid of accessories! Bring a scarf and Santa hat to your Christmas card session! Wear the bright jewelry, or wear the belt that will flatter your waist. Wear the pretty lipstick in the bottom of your makeup bag and straighten, or curl your hair, even though you usually wear it in a messy bun. Sneak the bow onto your daughter's head, unless it makes her cry, of course! And, have the boys throw in a little hair gel too if you'd like! If your goal is for everyone to look their best, everyone can look their best, all while looking like themselves! Just remember the part about looking like yourselves!

what to wear to a photo session? Holly Butler Photography

Thanks for being here!