What to Wear

A question I am often asked is what to wear to your engagement or family photography session. So I thought I would put together a few pointers and ideas to help you when deciding on what to where to your photo session. I hope this small guide helps anyone wondering about the topic.


-    Coordinate Outfits- When I say “coordinate outfits” please don’t think I mean everyone should be in jeans and white shirts or something. (Actually don’t do that!!) What I mean is that your outfits should complement each other’s clothing and the setting. This can be done by choosing outfits that work well together when keeping in mind the setting. I guess what I’m talking about is “Coordinating vs: Matching”, what I mentioned earlier is matching, and what we want to do is coordinate. One of the best ways to do this is by picking someone who is going to be the center of the shoot. Typically it’s the bride to be, or mom, but not always. The reason I like to start with them is because if anyone is wearing a pattern or strong color it’s typically the bride to be or mom.


-    Colors and Patterns- Be sure to use colors that coordinate with each other and the environment your session is at. When picking patterns keep in mind that small and tight patterns such as pinstripe or other tight print can trick the camera censor and get a little funky. However, clothing with small print design is just fine. Large logo clothing should also be avoided, such as “Gap” or “Old Navy” ect… the purpose of your session is to show off who you are and not sell product so keep that in mind when you are selecting clothing. One thing to think about when designing outfits is trying to be timeless. Meaning try not to be too trendy and remember that you will want to be viewing the images we will be creating in the years to come, I also keep this in mind when photographing your session. By all means dress the way you dress but don’t go overboard with any stylistic choices. The important thing is to remember to be you.


-    Let your personality show, keeping the previous point in mind,. If you try to create an outfit or incorporate props that don’t fit you as an individual or couple it will show in the photos. Wear clothing you feel good in and the photos will help bring it out. Also if you have an accessory that you wear every day (such as glasses, I’ve had clients NOT bring their glasses that they wear daily and regret the decision after the session) or a watch, bring it! Those are some of the things that make you who you are.


-    Dress for the location and occasion! I like my couples and families to be a little more formal than what they normally have on but with that being said keep in mind the location and who you are and where we are shooting, if we are shooting on a trail head in Red Lodge, something a little sportier may be more appropriate than a formal outfit. Always make sure everyone is on the same page and dressing appropriately.


-    Layering is a good idea, not only does it let you quickly let you adjust to the changing weather conditions in Montana but it also allows for several looks without taking time for outfits changes. (I always allow wardrobe changes, but understand that it does cut into shooting time.)


-    Be sure to plan ahead and give yourself time to think about what your will be wearing and give attention to any details you would like to incorporate into your photos session.

One Last tip for engagement sessions or family shoots:

       One suggestion I like to give to my couples who will be having an engagement photography session (or family shoot) is to play dress up and help each other pick out outfits. If the person you are significant other thinks you look good in a particular getup, chances are that you do! They may even have a few favorite outfits that you ware on a regular basis in mind so be sure to ask them. Take some time with each other to talk about what you like to see the outer person in and work out an outfit or two that would be appropriate together.

A guide for building outfits for a family shoot or engagement session:

       Keep the location and season in mind. Start with one person such as the bride to be or mom. They may sometimes tend to dress with more patterns, and their outfits may be a building block for anyone else in the photos.
       After that move onto the next person, the groom to be, dad or a child, use colors from the previous person’s outfits to coordinate and select an outfit that matches the previous outfit and location.

       Keeping all this in mind, the next thing to think about is props, or any accessories that may personalize the shoot. Be sure to make thoughtful choices and don’t be afraid to discuss any questions you have with me.

Zak Jokela is a wedding photographer and photojournalist currently located in Billings, Montana, who frequently serves the Red Lodge, Bozeman, & Big Sky areas in Montana, Cody, Wyoming, and Watford City, North Dakota, he is also happy to travel elsewhere nationally or abroad. Fill out a contact form for more information regarding booking.