What Do I Wear? | Guide to Styling Your Photo Session

Whether you're being photographed for a headshot or a family session, one question that stumps most people is: "what am I supposed to wear?" Many people have blogged about this before, but I get this question before almost every session I take. So here I am, creating a guide. Enjoy!


Two or more? Coordinate, be complimentary, but please don't match completely. This is a tough one, because so many of us have grown up seeing the studio family portraits of everybody matching. I find that if everyone is too matchy-matchy, they begin to blend together.

Subtle colors coordinate well together. And the different textures create interest.

I tend to like when people are wearing similar colors/different tones of the same-ish color or complimentary colors. Neutrals are personally my favorite considering I like to spend a lot of my time in the desert. Pops of colors can be great too! Or even patterns as long as it's not taking over and distracting from the subjects.

This is a perfect example of coordinating without being too matchy.


Scarfs, jackets, hats, vests, jewelry, headbands... the list can go on and on. These are things that can make your image feel complete. Accessories are great as long as they're not overwhelming. They are meant to accent and compliment! 

Interacting with the jacket creates movement by incorporating different poses.

Interacting with accessories is a great way of showing off details that would otherwise be over looked. They are also a great way of getting you to warm up in front of the camera. 


Layering can be great because you can easily change up your look without changing your entire wardrobe. Layers create depth and texture, which makes the photo more interesting. This is where your pop of color can come in. Scarfs, shoes, pants, whatever! Different textures like crochet, lace, ruffles create the depth add another dimension to the photo. Again this is about complementing the subject.

 The slight contrast between the blanket and rug create depth and texture.

The slight contrast between the blanket and rug create depth and texture.


Props can make a session personalized and more fun for the parties involved. It also is more fun to look at than the typical school photo. I love encouraging seniors to bring props to their sessions especially if they are into activities. I always ask what their interests are. What clubs are they in? Do they play any sports? Anything to bring that senior's personality to the image. Seniors are more likely to bring props in than families, but hey bring props. Hands are far more interesting when they are doing something.

The trumpet adds interest and tells a bit about the subject.

Dress for the scene and the season:

If it is the middle of summer (especially here in Arizona) please do not come to our session in a leather jacket and pants. Same goes for the extreme winter! Dress accordingly to the season you will be photographed in. Also keep in mind your location. If you're being photographed in an urbanscape, patterns, bring colors, and fashion foreward. If you're in nature, go with neutrals, bright pops of color, and flowy fabrics. With either, the above tips apply. 

Dressing for the season is important. As you can see, the contast between the two images are stark. The location is the same, but they are a season apart. The photo from the winter has blue hues and a layered wardrobe, while the photo from autumn is much warmer in color and clothing.


I love photographing little ones in twirly dresses and flowing capes. Anything that creates movement and flow. This goes for other sessions as well, this is just more common in kids.

The gust of wind creates some flow and movement in the dress, bringing the photo to life.


Above all, wear something your are comfortable wearing. Something you know you look good in or wear often is something you should definitely bring. Yes, I know many people go out and buy things especially for their session, but a lot of the time, they are not completely comfortable in this because well, it's new. Be comfy and you're sure to be yourself.

Comfort in the literal sense, but considering it's maternity, that's how it should be. Be comfy cozy!

Most importantly, be yourself! Don't let your clothing outshine your personality. Be personal, bring extra outfits and accessories. Even if you don't use everything you bring, it's nice to have options. Make sure you plan ahead, and don't hesitate to ask your photographer any questions you may have.

Be yourself!

XO, Shelby Bell