Kitchener Waterloo Wedding and Family Photographer » Stephanie Canada Photography

…Dress for my Session?

An iPhone snap of what my family wore for their last photo session (summertime). Most of these clothes were things we already had – only Kid #2 got a new outfit.


Dressing for your photo session is simple…


Ok, I lied.


It’s probably one of THE most stressful things clients worry about before their session – what do we WEAR?!?  I’ve always said to my clients that they should aim to be a “Dressed Up Version of Yourself”.  What does that mean, exactly?  Well, to show you that I’m not afraid of embarrassing myself, I put myself in front of the camera HERE to demonstrate step-by-step how to do that.

But what if you need a little more help?

Well, here’s a few extra pointers to get you on your way…

  1. Dress for the weather
    If your session is in November, and it’s -2*C, and especially if you have kids, please invest in some nice warmer wear (or coats, for a polished look).  From experience, if kids are cold?  You can forget about natural nice fun smiles and expressions, and welcome in whiny, tantrum-throwing kids… Or is this just true of my own?  Not only that, but your outfits then match your surroundings which leads to a pleasing, well rounded portrait.
  2. Coordinate without matching completely
    I’ve heard it said before that your clothes (as a family) should look like you’ve just continuously dressed one person…  And I happen to think that that’s sound advice.  Try to select only a few colours to work from, and refrain from choosing clashing patterns (polka dots + stripes, for example) or colours (red + green).  The key here is simpler is better.  Try to work from one base colour (i.e. cream or beige), and then throw in an accent colour.So let’s boil it down… What does it mean?  Well, let’s walk through a basic fall family setup.  Start with picking something beige for each person, it doesn’t have to be the same.  If it’s too much beige for your taste, pick another basic colour that tends to go well with beige (i.e. brown) and use that as the base colour on some people.  Now throw some people in jeans, and others in a beige or brown skirt (so you’re not all the same).  So what do we have now?  A whole bunch of half dressed people.  Yikes.  Ok, so let’s add in a fun accent colour – let’s say red.  One person could be wearing jeans with a beige sweater with a red scarf.  Someone else could be wearing a brown skirt with red top and white tights.  Someone else could be wearing jeans with a cream or brown dress shirt…  Are you

    visualizing it yet?  As you plan this out, remember to take your time.  If you need help, there’s a handy reference list at the bottom to get you started.

  3. Infuse your family’s personality
    Ok, so let’s say you’ve never dressed up a day in your life, and my above scenario makes you want to gag.  It’s important that by the time you’ve been all dressed for your session, that you still look like YOU.  If you’re not the dressed-up layered-with-an-accent-colour kinda person, that is OK.  What do you like to do as a family?  What elements of hobbies can you incorporate subtly into your photographs?Big hockey fans?  Wear jerseys and have your session at an ice rink.
    Spend all your time at the gym?  Incorporate workout wear into your attire.
    Enjoy a night of jazz?  Dress like you’re going to attend the Jazz festival…  You get the idea!The more you incorporate your personal style into your clothing choices, the more they will reflect the true YOU in your photos.  You want to feel comfortable with whatever you’ve chosen, because after all these portraits will be on the wall for years to come!  Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and come up with some new ideas and be creative.
  4. Try (emphasis on TRY) not to stress!
    Ok, so you’re all dressed and ready to leave and your 3 year old walks down the stairs in a tiara (hey, it’s happened).  What do you do?
    a)  Freak out
    b)  Cry in a corner
    c)  Secretly plan to steal the tiara when she isn’t looking
    d)  Be flexible and go with the flow.The correct answer is… d)  Be flexible and go with the flow.  I know it seems hard, but kids are going to be kids, and they’re going to throw curveballs at your best plans no matter how careful you are.  Should your daughter decide to wear a tiara, instead of causing WWIII by forcing her to remove it, let it stay.  A skilled photographer can work with stubborn (but cute!) 3 year olds to find a compromise to get a few shots WITH but also WITHOUT that tiara.
  5. Handy resources to help you on your journey
    Still need a little extra help?  No worries!  Here’s a few ways to get more help on the big clothing debate:

    • Pinterest:  If you don’t have an account, get one – you can search for clothing inspiration and get LOTS of visual ideas at your fingertips.  You can follow my boards at if you want to see some of the things I have pinned already.
    •  I’ve recommended this website in the past as a good website to see some different clothing options for the whole family.
    • Catalogues or Magazines:  It’s no secret that there are designers putting together every outfit you see advertised.  Use this to get ideas for co-ordinating colours or patterns, and to get a feel for what kind of look you are going for.
    • Have you checked out my blog post of shame yet?  This is where I put myself in FRONT of the camera lens and show you step-by-step how I would dress for a session.
    • ME.  Give me a call, send me an email, invite me to go shopping (a shopping trip without kids?  Yes please!).  If you’re not sure, I can help get you on the right path by putting different outfits together right in front of you.