What Not to Wear

© Nicole Bradshaw Photography 2015; What Not to Wear; Albuquerque Photographer, Durango Photographer, Pagosa Springs Photographer, Santa Fe Photographer, Farmington Photographer, Taos Photographer, Ruidoso Photographer, Los Lunas Photographer, New Mexico Photographer

One of the biggest questions, and worries, when you book a family photo session- or any photo session- is, "What do I wear?"  Or, some version of it, anyway. I know in my family, it's always the second question asked when we get ready to take family photos- the first being, 'When are we doing this?'

I'm here to tell you that it's actually pretty easy to figure out. You're probably thinking that I'm crazy, right? You've got four people- or more- to dress, and Susie's picky, Jane doesn't want a frilly dress, Drew has requested to wear a bow tie, and Johnny swears he's not wearing that Christmas sweater from Aunt Matilda with the dog on it. Sound familiar? Keep reading.

There's a formula you can use to figure out what everyone's gonna wear. There are three things to consider: Color, Textures and Patterns, and Size.


Color is the easiest bit. Pick two colors that 'go' together. You know the ones I mean: Red and Green, Blue and Orange, Purple and Yellow. Now pick a neutral: Black, Brown, Gray/Grey, Navy Blue (yes, it's a neutral), or if you're really brave, White. Great! Now you've got your base from which to start. 

Everyone will have one item of clothing in the neutral color- a shirt/blouse, pants, skirt, shorts, sweater/cardigan or jacket. It has to be a major piece of clothing.

Next, everyone needs to fill out their outfits with those colors you've chosen. Split the group into two smaller groups. One group will wear one color, and the other will wear the second. Now, these two groups do not have to wear the primary colors you've selected. They can all wear individual shades of those colors. For example: Susie and Jane are both wearing purple; Susie can wear dark purple, and Jane can wear lavender. They're both in the purple family, and because of this, it works.

Textures and Patterns

This is where things get a bit trickier. Textures are things that you can feel- for example a t-shirt and a knit sweater both feel very different. This also shows up in photos. Pick textures that 'go' together in the fashion world. Jeans and a flowing blouse, a flowing cotton skirt with a knit cardigan. One piece should always be structured with the other being less structured, and textures determine this.

Patterns make things even trickier. The number one rule is that only one or two people should wear patterns in photos, and the number two rule is to avoid stripes at all cost. Strips do this funny thing in photos: they either expand or compress whatever they're on. Either way, it'll make you look out of proportion. Choose patterns that are simple, and in relation to the size of the person wearing them. For example, a person of medium build can wear a medium-sized print. 


This is the easiest bit of all! Make sure your clothes all fit properly. Buy correct sizes, and have them altered if you need to. By wearing the correct size, it will make everyone look in proportion in your photos, and that's my ultimate goal: to show how beautiful you really are and how amazing your story is.

Putting it all Together

Let's put it all together: Suzie will wear a black flowing cotton skirt, with her favorite dark blue cardigan and a white blouse under it, Jane will wear her favorite white cotton capris, with a flowing sky blue blouse that has small flowers embroidered on it, Drew will wear a black dress shirt, black jeans with an orange bow tie you picked up last week, and Johnny will avoid that sweater with an orange polo shirt, and black cotton pants. And the best part: it all fits properly!