Clothing selection can have an enormous effect on how well your portraits come out. What looks good in person often looks bad in a photograph. While your clothing should support the portrait, it should not be the main focus. It should not detract from the purpose of the portrait, the focus should be on you.

Stay Simple

Prints, plaids, and stripes look good on the beach or on Sunday morning. But they often photograph poorly and can be distracting.

How Formal?

When planning your clothing pay special attention to when and where your portrait session will be taking place. The clothing should match the location. Black tie is rarely appropriate for the beach, whereas shorts and a t-shirt seldom work for indoor formal portraits.


If your shot involves a group of people, the clothing should be similar. While certain contrasting colors can work in a group portrait, contrasting patterns does not.

It is best to try and stay within two or three colors for the group. Different shades of the same color do work however. For example, if the dad is wearing a dark blue shirt, the son is wearing blue jeans, and the mother is wearing a light blue skirt this is all a single color choice.

Also popular is having all of your children dress in the same clothing. While this does lend itself to a family image, most children will protest. If you do decide that you want pictures with everyone dressed the same, please also consider bringing a change of clothes so that each can be photographed in a style of clothing they selected.

Long or Short Sleeve, Shorts, Skirts or Pants

Generally long sleeves and pants or skirts are more flattering. Short sleeve shirts work with some people, but sleeveless shirts rarely work for anyone. Pants and skirts lay better photographically than shorts. Often shorts will bunch during posing.


Knits are preferred as they tend not to wrinkle. Try also to avoid material that is shiny and reflects light.