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What To Wear To A Photoshoot

This is probably the most asked question I’ve received becoming a photographer:


“What should I wear?”


When I first started taking portraits this past spring while I was living in Spain, fellow English teachers who signed up for photoshoots would ask me, “What should I wear?” and “What colors look best?” At that point, I had absolutely no idea! I had just started Shea McGrath Photography and I had no idea which colors or patterns looked best. I remember whenever it was picture day in grade school, they told us we could NEVER wear white. This must have been a pretty generic “rule” because people still ask me if white is okay to wear! (The answer is yes, by the way. :)) But when choosing your outfits for a photoshoot, here are a few things to keep in mind:


1. Consider the location. The backdrop will play a part in helping you decide what to wear. If you’re taking pictures downtown or in an urban setting, bright and vibrant colors look best. If you’re thinking more of a natural, rustic backdrop, then those softer, pastel colors are the way to go!


2. Coordinate colors. I’m not a fan of “matchy-matchy” outfits. But my style of photography isn’t as posed and formal as others. Remember the days when everyone in your family would wear matching shirts and jeans? Instead of having everyone match, coordinate the colors! An example of this would be to have the guy’s tie and the girl’s dress match. Different shades of the same color look great, too! (For example, a light lavender and a dark purple.)


3. Stick to solids. Solids tend to look better than busy patterns. Sometimes the patterns are so busy that the eye goes straight to that piece of clothing rather than the couple’s emotion in the photo. If you’re that type of person that just really loves patterns, try to stick to a simple pattern versus a busy pattern. (See below for an example of a simple, light pattern on Anna’s skirt.)


4. Layers. Layers always look great in photos! Camis, sweaters, scarves, jewelry for girls. Collared shirts, jackets, and ties for the guys. 😉


What NOT to wear:

– Matching shirts

– Super short dresses or skirts (makes it hard for posing!)

– Logos/writing on clothing


Here are some great examples of past photoshoots I’ve done wear the clients did a fantastic job with outfits and colors!


Robbie & Dani – beautiful solid fall colors….

Wedding Photographer Shea McGrath Des Moines D and R 2


The Van Zee Family – A family of 6 that did a GREAT job finding colors for everyone without being too “matchy”!



Anna’s Senior session – soft, light colors, with a light pattern on her skirt…

Anna Senior Portrait 9


Megan & Michael – Solid, natural colors, that go beautifully with the backdrop of the trees. And a nice small pattern on Megan’s scarf….

Megan and Michael Engagement Photographer Des Moines 2


If you have any questions regarding what to wear to a photoshoot, don’t be afraid to ask your photographer for ideas!




This post was written by Shea McGrath, Des Moines Wedding Photographer, owner of Shea McGrath Photography. West Des Moines, Iowa.

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