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“OH, WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?” Maria Scott Photography | Tampa Bay Area Beach Photographer

“OH, WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?” …  This is probably the #1 question I get asked before a photo shoot. It can be pretty confusing and stressful trying to decide what outfits would be best for your photography session … but worry not!  This guide will help you with styling tips and tricks to select clothing options for a perfect outcome on photo day.


First and foremost, BE YOU!   Your clothing choices should allow you to be yourself and reflect your family.  🙂

KEEP THE DISPLAY IN MIND– As you plan out a photo shoot, remember to think about where and how pictures will be displayed. If you are planning on displaying photos on your living room wall, tie the colors and setup of your photos to the color scheme of the room. Photos that will go up in a child’s room should emulate the fun, playful spirit of children and capture the age of your children. Pictures that will be used for invitations, Christmas cards, or announcements, keep the smaller display size of the photo in mind. Small details may get lost in a smaller photo, so use bold accessories that will show up in a 4 x 6 photo.

COMPLEMENTING FAMILY OUTFITS– Gone are the days of 1990s family portraits where everyone in the picture would wear the same outfit. A good way to start planning a photo session is to choose a color scheme. Try to choose a palette that has a mix of neutral shades and a bright color. Another option is a color scheme with one main color and different variations of that color.  Instead of having everyone in the photo compete for center stage, you may want to choose one person to stand out from the others. They can wear one impactful piece that inspires the accessories and colors in everyone else’s outfits. Typically, it’s easier to have a woman’s or girl’s outfit be the focal point of a picture. Once you’ve chosen one person to be the focus of the photograph, use a bright color to draw viewers’ eyes in. Everyone else in the photo can have accessories that match the bright color, making the photo look unified and complete.

KEEP IT CLASSIC FOR A TIMELESS LOOK –  While your preferences may be different, many photographers and subjects alike prefer to dress in timeless and classic looks that will last through the years. Wearing clothes that are too trendy might mean thatthe photos will look outdated in a matter of months of years. If you choose clothes that have looked good for years, the photos will likely continue to look good and up-to-date for years to come.

For a classic look, choose a soft color palette with a couple of bright colors that are repeated in accessories throughout the photos. Sticking to timeless looks will let your subjects’ personalities shine through. However, if a family wishes to use trendy, modern clothing, that is their prerogative. Either way, you can make a beautiful photo!

For a different & fun look, choose a soft color palette with a couple of bright colors.  Wearing bright colors can be great!  Try bright pinks, teals, purples and all shades of blue. Try and keep all of the outfits in the same tonal range. For instance: if your kids are wearing light colors or pastels, make sure that you and your husband wear light colors as well.


Adults can be comfortable in just about anything for the length of a photo shoot. However, choosing perfect children’s clothing is of the utmost importance for a good photo shoot. Kids can be made itchy or uncomfortable by the smallest inconvenience—a tag in the back of a shirt or a fabric that rubs against the skin wrong. Choose free-flowing clothing for kids will allow them to move easier and stay comfortable throughout the photo shoot. For outdoor photos, consider bright, free-flowing clothing that will move with the child and add movement and life to a photo. A dress that twirls not only enchants a little girl, it make a photo exciting and engaging.

To ensure that the children are happy and at ease during photos, let them pick their own clothing. They’ll pick something that shows off what their preferences and interests are. If you are worried about what they’ll choose, try selecting three or four main outfits that you would be happy with your child wearing for a photo. Let them choose from the outfits you’ve selected; they’ll still feel like they got to make the decision.





  • Avoid outfits that mean that everyone is wearing the same color or pattern. This makes a photo look dull and outdated, not to mention taking away from your subjects’ unique personalities and preferences.  Choose a color palette and let everyone have their own take on it. This will create a photo that is coordinated and classy without being cheesy or overdone.
  • Don’t choose clothing that has large pictures, labels, logos, or words on it. This often looks too casual for a family photo shoot and detracts from the overall feel of a photo.  People who look at the photos will notice the logo on your child’s shirt before they notice your child’s beaming smile. Logos and graphics on clothing can work in some cases. Try to stick with more classic clothes that will show something other than what clothing brands you favor.
  • If you choose a stylish, modern look for a photo shoot, make your clothing choices wisely. Choosing something that is overly trendy and doesn’t have any classic features will make your photos look out-of-date long before they need to.
  • If photo subjects have jewelry or accessories they wear all the time, make sure that they fit in with the look of a photo before wearing them in a photo. Watches, earrings, necklaces, and other accessories may need to be removed for a photo shoot.
  • Bare feet.  If someone does not want to take their shoes off it is ok.  Have them wear sandals so they can match the beach look.
  • Photos look more natural if you let a fresh haircut grow out a week or two before taking photos.



  • Expect Wind. Keep in mind that WIND is a constant at the beach and we usually have it everyday!  Expect your top or skirt to blow and move so choose one that will flow with it!  And expect your hair to blow in your face if it’s not pulled back.


  • Hair Spray. For your hair, try and wear it up or pulled back for the shoot. This is especially important if you have shoulder length or long hair. You should use hair spray even if you don’t normally. Spray it heavily…to the point of stiff….even the men and boys.


  • No sunglasses.  Remove your sunglasses at least an hour before you arrive for the session, to allow your eyes to adjust to the brightness even for the evening sessions. You will be able to open your eyes more easily without squinting. It will also ease those red marks they can leave on your nose! Do not arrive wearing them as you will squint more.


  • Limit Lotion. Apply lotion early so that it is absorbed into skin, as the sand will stick to moist legs.


  • No Bling. **Avoid anything with glitter or sparkle. crystals, sequins and even sparkly jewelry will distract.  The sun and water reflections catch these sparkles leaving unwanted stars on your face and clothes.


  • Smile & Relax. Most important, remember to relax, smile and HAVE FUN!  Your family is going to have a great time and you will leave with vacation memories that will be cherished for a lifetime.


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