picking the perfect pinafore | a photographer’s guide to dressing clients for success

picking the perfect pinafore | a photographer’s guide to dressing clients for success

What I’ve learned after more than four years in this business is that for most of my clients, the utter thought of selecting — and even worse, coordinating clothing for multiple people *insert gasp here* — is enough to break a sweat on even the calmest of people.

I got to experience this firsthand after my first child was born. When thinking about our first family photograph, the thought that found its way to my head the quickest: “O.M.G, what are we gonna wear?!” and then two years later after having my daughter; my next thought, “Oh geeze. Now there’s FOUR people to coordinate outfits for!” This stress could be enough to make me stop at two kids.

Then I realized that if I get a little nervous (aka: cold sweats) from the thought of picking outfits for my special day, then my clients must feel ten times worse as this is in no way as frequent of an experience for them as it is for me!

I have a feeling I’m not alone out there! (Wait, am I?!? Bueller? … Bueller?) Ok, going with my gut and saying that others reading this may feel the same way and could benefit from some advice, tips, and tricks to don the duds in style!

Below are the tips I keep on my information website under a “wardrobe” tab, for clients to read about after they’ve booked a session with me.

1. Call in reinforcements: the 2Ps.

Take advantage of the fact MANY people out there have already done this work FOR you! Turn to Pinterest and Polyvore! In Pinterest you can use search terms like “what to wear” or “senior photo inspiration” and come up with great ideas of what other people have put together! Polyvore allows you to “build your custom look” by using generic search terms “navy cardigan” or “orange skinny jeans” and showing you a plethora of options to pick and pin from!

2. Nix the uniforms.

I call this matchy-matchy and, and a little “2001”. Maybe style gurus will bring it back again in 2021, since fashion usually goes full-circle every 20 years. But until then, matchy-matchy is a no-no. Coordinating however, is a yes-yes! So how do you coordinate without matching? Start by choosing a color group or category. Adobe Kuler is a GREAT resource I use for working with clients to give them some color inspiration. Examples color groups would be: pastels, deep colors, primary colors, earth tones, etc.

3. Avoid loud patterns and graphics.

I’m not an anti-patternite. I just prefer clients not choose clothing that draws attention away from their face. After all, the whole reason you’re spending the money on portraits is so that your Facebook peeps can adore your pretty mug, right? I do love using patterns when they are used in the right way! A trendy chevron pattern on a headband, or a mod clover pattern on a senior girl’s skirt. A giant FUBU logo across the chest of their clothing? Thanks, but NO thanks.

4. Accessoriessss?? Yes, pleaseeee!

There’s a fine line between adding a splash of color to your outfit and drawing attention to it. For example, if a woman chooses a long, sleek, black sundress – then a wide, red belt is great. A diamond encrusted Buddha-face belt, not so much! For up-close face shots, I like funky, big earrings that add a lot of texture and really add dimension the bokeh of the photo for a tight face shot!

Hats? It’s hard to make a blanket statement about hats. I’ve never once felt like a ball cap enhanced a portrait but, then again, I’ve never done a team picture for the Yankees. I have at times thought that certain portraits’ styles were enhanced by a large-brim hat or fedora because these hats give us insight into the person and their style, rather than giving the impression the wearer simply forgot to comb their hair.

5. Dress for your body, not what the mannequin was wearing!

Be comfortable, and when I say “comfortable” I am most definitely not referring to sweat pants!  I mean don’t wear something that you will constantly be adjusting (such as a shirt that shows bra straps if not perfectly placed) or doesn’t fit well (like the pair of pants that almost fits perfectly, sans the fact they have to be adjusted after each step to avoid a wedgie). For better or worse, portrait time is the time to break out the Spanx and iron that shirt! Whatever it might be that you want to “enhance” or smooth out, definitely try to do that with your clothing and your posture. Don’t rely on Photoshop to do it for you.

6. Call Me, Maybe?!

Ok, I just really like that song and wanted to use that as a title. Feel free to call me and ask my opinion OR even better, lay your family’s outfits out on your bed and take a photo and text it to me and see what I think! I’m always willing to offer up some advice based on my experience and my knowledge of what kinds of clothing are better for certain poses!

7. Finally, some DO’s and DON’Ts

Do pick clothes that you are comfortable in.
try on ALL the clothes before coming to a photo shoot.  Nothing like finding out something doesn’t fit at the shoot.
Do remember that you want contrast.
have a bright light on when picking out clothes for the photo shoot.
worry about bringing too many clothes, as long as you bring a variety.
worry if you don’t like something, you can always go onto the next wardrobe.
Don’t forget to put a fresh coat on your nails – chips will show in the photos!
bring clothes that show stains or wrinkle easily.

About the Author:

Brittney Kluse Photography is an Eastern Washington stylized lifestyle portrait photographer specializing in photography that brings out the fresh, fun, and colorful side of life. Visit Brittney Kluse online.


  1. Emily Krbec Sep 17 2012 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    these are awesome tips!! Thanks for sharing Brittney

  2. Lacey Meyers Sep 17 2012 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    🙂 I love the way you write, Brittney! 🙂 Great tips!

  3. Brittney Kluse Sep 17 2012 at 3:36 pm - Reply

    Thanks Emily and Lacey! I hope this helps you guys!! Glad to share!!

  4. Amber Fox Sep 17 2012 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    Awesome tips! Thanks!!! You should make this into a cute pdf and sell it, so photogs can put it on their websites. 🙂

  5. Megan Iverson Sep 17 2012 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    Great Tips!!! I need all the help I can get!

  6. Ruth Stenson Sep 17 2012 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    Thank you Brittany for such a great blog…..I shared this helpful info for my clients. Well written, concise and thanks for sharing your thoughts with us:)

  7. Andrea Gagen Sep 17 2012 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    Thanks, great tips!

  8. Brittney Kluse Sep 17 2012 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    GREAT idea Amber!! I think I will do JUST THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. jennifer Sep 17 2012 at 4:34 pm - Reply

    Excellent tips, can't wait to share this with my clients! Thanks Brittney!

  10. Jodi Sep 18 2012 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    these are fantastic tips, brittney! thanks for sharing them!

  11. Martina Sep 19 2012 at 9:57 am - Reply

    Great tips, just what I was looking for, thank you!

  12. Tara Sep 20 2012 at 7:21 am - Reply

    Funny, we have a family photo shoot next week and you just reminded me to dig out the spanx! Thanks!

Leave A Comment


Follow this blog

Get a weekly email of all new posts.

Email address