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What to Wear to a Photo Shoot + What To Wear Worksheet

Isn’t is absolutely fabulous when you get to a photo shoot and your clients are dressed so perfectly it looks like they just walked out of a magazine?  You get this immediate sensation of, “I’ve made it!”  In other words, you have someone in front of your camera—someone confident, well-dressed, and they actually want to be there.  What could go wrong?!  With all of these things going for you, half of the battle is already won!

But wait a minute, you said someone confident and well-dressed who wants to be there.  How do you get this from the very start?  Normally people (especially men) arrive to the photo shoot nervous or tense.  How do you get your client to forget about their insecurities, focus on something positive, and feel like a million bucks before the session?

Educate Your Clients

In reality, photography doesn’t stop at knowing the settings of your camera forwards and backwards.  In order to be a good photographer, we have to be a little bit of everything.  We have to know how to plan, be engineers, designers, fashionistas, counselors, psychologists, and even comedians.  This is all for one sole purpose: to capture excellent images that dazzle viewers and steal the hearts of your clients.

Many times we’re lucky and our clients know exactly what they want.  However, on other occasions, our clients have no idea what they want their pictures to reflect and therefore they don’t know what to wear or where they want to take the photos.  Our job as photographers doesn’t start behind the camera.  Our job begins much earlier, pay attention because this is where you come in.

The moment your clients book with you, start to plan the technique to make them feel comfortable before and during the session.  Find out all of their names (if it’s a family, memorize the names and ages of everyone BEFORE the photo shoot) and while always maintaining professionalism, learn a little about each of your clients before meeting them in person. Next, ask them what they have in mind for their photos; portraits, fashion, lifestyle, or storytelling, etc.  (I’m not going to talk about weddings because that’s a totally different world.) After determining what your clients want to portray, ask them what style they wish their images to reflect; country, urban/city, studio, etc.

If they don’t have a response, help them by asking them leading questions that will indicate what they want.  For example, ask them what kinds of things they like to do, what their favorite sports are, if they have any hobbies, what they do for a living, etc. Their responses will help you discover their style and what would work best with their personalities so you can help give them suggestions for their photos.

Once you know what style they’re looking for, you can choose a location and then begin to choose the wardrobes. This includes clothing, shoes, accessories, makeup, hair, etc. (Keep a list of contact information of make up artists and hair stylists that you can send your client to if they ask for this)

Send a "What to Wear" Guide

To make your job and their lives easier, send them a list of “What to Wear and What NOT to Wear.” Include a “Shopping Guide.” Once you send the list, wait a few days and then ask them how the search for the perfect outfit is going. Offer your help and time.


Personal Assistance and Suggestions

I personally give my clients my cell phone number and email so they can feel free to send texts or emails of photos with possible outfits.  I then give them suggestions about what would look best on camera and what clothing would best flatter their figures.  

If the electronic help isn’t enough, time permitting, I offer to go to my clients homes and take a look in their closets to help them choose. If you’re a senior portrait photographer and you have clothing, makeup, and hair options in your studio—or if they’re a wedding photographer where you don’t have to worry about anything else but pictures—or if you’re a newborn photographer and you have all of the props like blankets and throws for babies, you don’t have to worry. However, if you’re an “on location” family photographer like me, all of these tips will help you.

Along with your “Welcome Letter”, (which you should be sending your clients) send them the downloadable “What to Wear and What NOT to Wear” and “Shopping Guide” lists courtesy of Blahblah Bebe Photography and Pretty Presets for Lightroom.  Also, don’t forget to include the makeup artist and hairstylist info.

“What is the point of all of this work?” you ask.  “Could this be an exaggeration?”  Based on my experience, I have learned that once the client chooses their clothing and location, half of the stress that comes with a photoshoot disappears! Now, is you believe that this is too much work, you need one of two things: a couple of assistants who help you with all of the work, or you should book less clientele.  

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is that you dedicate the right amount of time to your clients.  When you charge the same amount to each client, you should also give 100% to each and every client.  Each one deserves the same quality of attention.

Are you still unsure and think it’s too much work?  CHARGE FOR IT!  Value your time and your talent.

Now, to conclude, I’ll ask again, isn’t it spectacular when your clients arrive to a photo shoot looking fabulous and confident of themselves?  Of course it is! My next question for you is: how should YOU dress for the photo session?  WHAT? What am I referring to?  Why should I be worried about this? Each profession requires a certain etiquette.  

From a mailman delivering letters; to a waiter in an upscale restaurant; to an executive at a large company; or a medical professional in a hospital, everyone should look their best as representatives of their profession. We photographers should not be the exception!  Unless you’re going to take photos of a newborn in a studio, yoga pants should not be okay. The ideal would be for you as a photographer to look spectacular as well! (and again, if you’re a wedding photographer, this should absolutely not be an issue for you!

How would you like a not so “put-together” photographer shooting your own wedding?  

Take the tips from the “What to Wear and What NOT to Wear” and “Shopping Guide” and use them for yourself.  We should lead by example. Everything starts at the eyes. In our profession everything is presentation.  Keep that in mind!  

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About the Artist:  Hi, I'm Lily Miller, owner of Blablah Bebe Photography.  I am a music lover , a huge fan of bright colors and I am a sucker for anything that takes me back to my origins. I have an amazing husband and 4 kids who I love with all my heart.  More than anything else, they're my inspiration, not just in photography, but in life in general. Right now,  photography is not a full time job because my first priority is my family.  However, I do use a big chunk of my week carefully planning different photo shoots. I'm 100% an all natural light photographer and I believe in using cute props. We recently moved from 29 Palms, California and now live in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  
"Everybody is beautiful in their own way and I feel grateful to be able to use a lens to capture my beautiful surroundings and save them on paper."

Visit Lily at her WEBSITE |  FACEBOOK

Lily and her family all dressed up for family pictures.

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