What to wear to a photo session

Photo portraits are about people, but poor clothing choices cause distractions.

Portrait photographer Jan Busby said what to wear—or not wear—depends on the setting, type of photo and the people themselves. “Decent” street clothes are fine for most purposes; dark, un-torn jeans and long-sleeve shirts work well.

“You don’t wear something you’ll be embarrassed about 10 years from now,” Busby said.

Many families Busby photographed arrived in what she she described as “clan-like” attire. “You don’t want uniforms,” she said. “Groups should look coordinated, but not cookie-cutter identical.”

“Greens, blues, and tans are best for outdoors shots,” Busby said. “Black and white clothes are the worst choice for black and white photographs. You lose too much detail. You get a good range with contrast between various shades of color.”

In addition, personal items such as jewelry or watches add important details to a photo. “Denim & diamonds are really nice. if you’re gonna wear jeans, wear diamonds. spice it up a little.”

The most common mistake for women is not covering their arms.

“Cover your arms so the focus goes to your face,” Busby said, adding that when people’s arms fall to their sides can make them look more plump than normal. “I’ve had to do some strange crops to fix that.”

But the worst mistake? “Girls who wear T-straps (spaghetti straps) and a bra. It’s so obvious that it’s horrible. But no one has ever dressed so outrageously I had to send them home.”

The bottom line is to be comfortable and not over-do what you wear.

“Dress conservatively, but not out of character,” Busby said about her general wardrobe policy. “If it’s just you, don’t buy clothes just for the photo shoot. Bring a selection of outfits and we can try them out.”