There are so many guides out there telling clients what they should wear for a photoshoot. The advice ranges from tips on body shape, to how to keep a portrait timeless, to what works best on location versus in a studio. But what about photographers? How do we know what to wear?
When photography is your full time job, the clothes that you wear are your uniform. As we all know, the uniform that a worker wears can change our view on them. We can put more trust in them, or see them more as an expert, depending on what they wear. This means that your wardrobe is very important, particularly when you are self-employed and depending on photography to bring in your income. On the other hand you want to be sure you are comfortable since you are on your feet and need flexibility to get those shots. Here’s some advice for any photographer who finds themselves just not knowing what to wear to that shoot.
Family Studio Session
For a studio session, you can forget about any factors to do with the weather or being able to run around. You do of course need to be able to move your arms and legs freely. This may mean that you avoid very long or wide sleeves, yet making sure that your clothing are loose enough to allow you to move. It’s appropriate to keep yourself dressed modestly yet comfortably for a family shoot. A short skirt, low cut blouse, tight and uncomfortable jeans, or tight dress may not be the best choice for photographers.
The main thing to avoid here is standing out too much or wearing something too constricting. Your wardrobe should not be a talking point of the session or prevent you from getting those all important shots. Something simple and easy works best. Try a plain shirt or a smarter t-shirt, well tailored jeans or black leggings, and a simple jumper or cardigan if it is colder.
A location shoot brings more problems along with it. Weather should now be your number one concern. Do you need a coat? Will a jumper be enough? Is it too cold for a skirt? Footwear is very important here too. You may get away with low heels in a studio session, but when on location, the ground can be soft and you may need to walk or run for longer. Be sensible as far as possible. If you are too hot or too cold, you may not be focusing on the job as much as you should be.
Layers can be a good idea, but when the day gets warmer, you may start running out of places to put them. If you are moving about a lot within your location, you will need to grab everything and move it every time. Think about the practicalities. Having an umbrella in your kit bag may also be a crucial step to protect you, your equipment, and any bags from getting drenched if the weather turns. Jeans/leggings are a good option again here because they are flexible and comfortable for walking around. You also won’t be revealing too much if you have to crouch down to get the right angle, and you’re safe from any gusts of wind.
Fashion Studio Session
If you are taking part in a fashion shoot, it can be tempting to glam up or go for your most fashionable possible outfit. But you have to remember that you are the photographer, not the client or the model. Yes, it is absolutely a good idea to show that you have some knowledge of the industry and that you are up to date with current trends. But sacrificing the ability to move properly, shoot properly, or carry out your job well is not. There is only so much that Photoshop can make up for. If you didn’t get the right shot, then you can’t solve it later.
You may want to go for smart casual in order to show that while you understand the importance of a good outfit, you also want to commit to staying businesslike. For female photographers, a well tailored and stylish white shirt is a great investment piece. Go for something a little unusual rather than just the standard white buttoned version. Cream or ivory coloring can make a big difference, as can a longer cut or a style which only has a few buttons around the neckline. Pair this with smart, sharp trousers or a below the knee A-line skirt. This will allow you to move around, crouch, and so forth without having to sacrifice your modesty or ability.
Try making a nod to current trends in your accessories if possible. Shoes, hats, and jewellery can tell the story of the current season while the rest of your wardrobe stays classic. This helps make a compromise between looking right, and working well.
Fashion Show or Event
When it comes to an event, you have two options, based largely on your ambitions. Would you like to be the photographer that manages to capture everything whilst not disturbing anything? Or would coverage of your outfit and style help you to boost traffic to your website? It’s true that the fashion crowd likes to find people who fit in. Looking stylish can help with this a lot, and you may find that you are more accepted when you dress for the occasion.
But as ever, it comes back to practicality. Getting your photograph on all the blogs may be detrimental if you have no photos of your own from the day. You need to get all of the right shots. It is up to you to decide whether it is better to look the part, be behind the scenes, or find a middle ground. Practicality is something that will force decisions on footwear, outerwear, and accessories. Yes, fringed bags may be in this season. But can you fit your camera in one? If the answer is no, then you may need to compromise on how closely you follow the trend.
Wedding and Reception
When you attend a smart event, it’s important that you don’t stick out for being too casual or too scruffy. Make sure to dress up when you are shooting a wedding, whilst still keeping practicality in mind. For example, you could choose a loose but elegant dress which allows you to move around easily, paired with flats to make walking quietly possible. You don’t want to have heels clicking across the floor when you move to take photographs during the ceremony!
You could also try going for a suit, or a simple, smart blouse with a pair of tailored pants. Remember that looking smart and neat is key. This is your clients’ special day – treat it like a big event. Don’t show up looking like you’re going off to the park or to drink with friends next. So long as you keep that in mind, you should be fine – but know that you aren’t there as a guest, so practicality always comes first.
Sports or Other Outdoor Event
Now we are back away from the fashion side of things, it becomes a lot easier to decide what to wear. In cold weather, wear a waterproof coat, hiking boots, and jeans. The coat will double as a cover for your camera if it rains. Think about fingerless gloves as well – they keep your hands warm but will still allow you to get maximum functionality out of your camera.
In warm weather, sensible clothing is necessary. A hat should be worn to protect you from sunburn or sunstroke, but make sure that the brim does not get in the way of the camera. Sunglasses may also be an option, but again, test them out beforehand. Trainers are acceptable but sturdy boots may be better for day long events or those that are spread across a larger area. Plain clothing is recommended – anything with a logo or a slogan on it may not seem professional. In most cases you may be required to wear something that sets you apart as a member of the press, so it may not matter so much what you wear. Skirts are generally not recommended for women, as they can be impractical and make the job more difficult. Particularly with sports, you may need to be able to move quickly. Not only will you be following the action, but also having to avoid it if it exceeds the limits of the pitch or track.
Other things to think about
Aside from all of the above, you’ll also want to think about color casts. If you show up to a shoot wearing bright neon green clothing, for example, it make produce a color cast bouncing off your shirt and onto your subjects. This can be fixed in Photoshop using Summerana’s color cast remover actions, but if you do not want to spend time in Photoshop fixing this, you may want to avoid wearing color cast inducing clothing.
Additionally, you will want to possibly carry a lint brush roller if you have or are around pets. You may also want to be sure your clothing is not wrinkled and unprofessional looking.
Staple Wardrobe Pieces
For these and all other types of photoshoot, there are some forms of clothing you will want in your wardrobe to grab when needed. Make sure that you have these pieces on hand and ready.
– Tailored, staple white or black shirt
– Suit with tailored pants or below the knee skirt and well fitted jacket – check that you can move your arms and that they are not too flowy
– Plain dark jeans or leggings, well fitted but not tight
– Plain t-shirt, nicely tailored and preferably dark or white
– Smart shoes that aren’t too noisy
– Hiking boots
– Waterproof coat
– Summer jacket with plenty of pockets
– Hat which will not blow off or obstruct your camera
Do you have any staple wardrobe pieces that are must haves? Scroll down to post in the comments and let us know!