What to Wear to Your Engagement, Family, or Maternity Session

For the longest time I've shied away from advising my clients on what to wear. I always want my subjects to feel comfortable during their shoot and that will mean a lot of different things to different people. I've had people rock jeans, no makeup, and rain jackets and look totally glowing, and I've had people in formal wear feel completely comfortable and at ease in front of the camera. So yes, it's hard for me to tell you what to wear, but I've put together a few key pointers because while connection and moments are the most important to beautiful photos, great clothes do help ;)

1- Movement. Long maxi dresses and skirts are a lot of fun to photograph because of how they move and blow in the wind. As your photographer, my mind is whirling (in a good way) thinking of how I can use that extra fabric to create motion in your images. I love seeing movement when you walk, are picked up, or simply standing still in a bit of wind.

 This beautiful flowing skirt created interesting movement at Meg's family photo session in Malibu, CA.

This beautiful flowing skirt created interesting movement at Meg's family photo session in Malibu, CA.

2- Color. Either go totally neutral or totally bold. I pretty much either want to see very neutral neutrals (ivory, whites, greys, tans) or bold, bright, fun color. What colors to avoid? I am not a huge fan of black unless it's a man in an awesome suit or tux :) I promise that I can slim you in any color, so don't use that as your excuse to wear black!

 This blue dress made a great statement at Anna and Luca's engagement session at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco!

This blue dress made a great statement at Anna and Luca's engagement session at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco!

 These soft greys were wonderful neutrals for this family session!

These soft greys were wonderful neutrals for this family session!

3- Pattern. I used to be in the mindset that pattern was bad, but that's not the case at all. Thoughtful, fun patterns can photograph beautifully as long as they don't clash with another person in your photos. Ladies, I especially love large floral patterns! Gentlemen, a great checkered pattern is always in style. However, let's try to stay away from plaid unless it really suits our location (forest, mountains, winter, etc).

 Most people are afraid to go this bold with pattern and color, but Stephan and Adriano rocked their patterns at their urban Los Angeles engagement session.

Most people are afraid to go this bold with pattern and color, but Stephan and Adriano rocked their patterns at their urban Los Angeles engagement session.

4- Shoes. Ladies, unless we are in a flat urban location do not wear heels. I rely a lot on movement and motion so I will likely having you do poses that involve walking. If you are worried about tripping in heels we may not be able to get the great connection that I want from those poses. I personally love nice, flat sandals. Feet are rarely even noticed in photos so don't stress about shoes too much. Men, just make sure that your shoes are clean. Even sneakers are fine with me as long as they aren't too worn out and suit the rest of your outfit/style.

 Kristy and her husband both wore flat, comfortable sandals to their session in San Francisco. Sandals worked well for the ocean/beachy vibe.

Kristy and her husband both wore flat, comfortable sandals to their session in San Francisco. Sandals worked well for the ocean/beachy vibe.

5- Comfort. Women, I want you to do the following before you arrive at your session. Sit down in various positions. Are you comfortable? Raise your arms above your head. Still comfortable? No tummy showing? Unless of course that's what you're going for ;) Dance. Still comfortable? Good! If you can't do any of these things without feeling uncomfortable find something else to wear. I can't tell you how many times I've had clients show up in pretty outfits only to discover that when they raised their arms their dress exposed their booties or that they could not sit down.

 For their family session on the beach in San Francisco, Alison and her family were all very comfortable which allowed them to hold and play with their boys without fear of a wardrobe malfunction.

For their family session on the beach in San Francisco, Alison and her family were all very comfortable which allowed them to hold and play with their boys without fear of a wardrobe malfunction.

6- Accessories. I love fun accessories such as hats, necklaces, bracelets, or scarves. We may not use them the whole session but it's a nice option to have in your bag. Don't confuse the word "accessory" with "prop" - props are not my jam! I want the focus of your session to be on people, not things.

 Chloe didn't wear this hat for her entire maternity session but it was a great statement piece for certain photos.

Chloe didn't wear this hat for her entire maternity session but it was a great statement piece for certain photos.

If you're looking for some inspiration, I have created a small Pinterest board of outfits and pieces that I love! I'm continually adding to it, so make sure to follow me to see more.

https://www.pinterest.com/brethurston/session-wardrobe-inspiration/