Do’s & Dont’s

** Please note that that I am offering my “what to wear” guides for photographers to use on their own websites, blogs, and social media without having to give credit back to me.  However, the text in this post/article CANNOT be copied for your use without my permission OR a link back to me and my website/blog.   Thank you for respecting my words**


    • Coordinate outfits
    Now this doesn’t mean everyone has to 100% match with khaki pants or jeans and a white shirt!  You want to complement each other’s outfits by choosing colors that work well together.  I find that if everyone is wearing the same clothing, people will all tend to blend in together and there won’t be too much pop and life to the images.  Coordinate VS. Matching…. let’s not get cheesy!
    • Use colors & patterns
    Colors are everywhere around us and bring things to life… why not bring your images to life as well!  Again, be sure the colors you use coordinate with each other and you don’t just end up looking like one big rainbow family! When picking patterns, choose smaller ones that won’t distract attention away from the main subject/s. Use patterns sparingly…. if one person is wearing a print, try to avoid putting someone else in a competing pattern.  When thinking about texture, choose different ones that will give photos some interest such as lace, corduroy, denim, etc.  Avoid large logo’s, emblems and graphics like “GAP” and “Old Navy” because again, these will typically distract attention away from the subject.  We want your faces and emotion to show, not promote the clothing company you purchased from!
    • Be timeless
    For some fashionista’s, this may be a difficult concept, however you are going to want these images to stand the test of time.   Pick outfits that aren’t t considered too trendy, but will be able to be enjoyed and displayed for many years to come.  One example of something that is timeless is jeans… classic look and style yet you can still incorporate your own flair into the outfit with your tops and accessories.  Still be YOU, never forget that!
    • Let your personalities SHINE
    Perhaps the most important “rule” in my book.  The purpose of these photos is to hopefully capture each individual as they truly are, to capture the family, the relationships, and people in the photos just as THEY are.  Forcing children to wear outfits that are uncomfortable and unfamiliar to them may cause some anxiety and stress to them which in turn will inhibit really capturing their personalities during the session.  Same goes for adults.  Wear clothing that YOU feel good in and the pictures will emanate those feelings.  If your child wears a pair of rain boots everywhere he goes, it makes the most sense to have him wear them for pictures as well.  Remember, you want to capture everyone as they are NOW.  Capture these moments as they are!
    • Dress for the season & location
    Obviously you want your images to make sense.  One typically wouldn’t be wearing jeans, boots, and a jacket to the beach in the Summer so why would you for pictures?  Dress the part and be aware of your location.  For example, if you are shooting at the beach, ladies wear a pretty dress and sandals, put dad in a short sleeve shirt and shorts OR pants (which you can also roll up), put your little girl in a sweet Spring or Summer dress, etc.  You will want to make sure that everyone is on the same page and coordinates in both colors AND styles.
    • Layering
    One of my favorite “tips” for clothing choices!  In the Summer months, this may be more difficult to pull off but during all of the other seasons, definitely layer your outfits.  Not only will it provide more visual interest in each photo but it will also allow a lot more variety in your shots and poses.  Have a ton of images of yourself in just your dress or cute top and jeans?  Throw on a little  sweater or jacket and a hat and you have entirely different look.
    • Personalize It
    These are YOUR images and of course you want them to speak volumes about you and your family.  Discuss things your family enjoys doing together and bring “props” and accessories that will help compliment who you are.  If your family enjoys playing music together, bring your instruments to your session.  If your family enjoys boating, suggest doing your session on a boat or at the very least near the water.  Bring along items that will represent who each individual is AND who your family is collectively.
    • Remember where you came from
    Typically, not something everyone will keep in mind before their session.  However, I always encourage clients to think about their home, their decor,colors, and style of their homes.  Chances are, at some point after your session, you will be ordering prints or digital files.  Why not keep your your decor in mind and ensure that it all blends into your home.  This will ensure that any large portraits will coordinate beautifully.
    • Plan ahead
    Make sure you have given yourself enough time to think about all of the details of your session.  Plan ahead so that #1 you can truly think about your photos and everything you want out of the session, #2 you aren’t rushing and stressing out right before your session, and #3 if you have decided to go for a new look for your session or someone gets a bad haircut, you still have time to fix things if you need to.
    • Keep make up natural, but still have some on
    You will want to avoid using very heavy makeup, but a bit of color on your lips, eyes, and cheeks will help bring you to life in photos.  Be sure to bring some lip gloss with you as well.
    • Outfit changes
    If time allows it, bring another set of outfits.  Again, you will get a lot more variety in your shots so why not capitalize on the opportunity and get the most bang for your buck!
    • Ladies & their shoes

    Im all for a sassy pair of shoes, however they may make for a very long and painful session.  If you plan on wearing heels, be sure to bring a pair of flats or flip flops that can help you get from point A to point B without any pain.  You can just swap them out as you need to.

    If I were building outfits for my family this is how I would do it:

    1. Keeping your location and season in mind, start with one person.  Don’t try and think of everyone at the same time.  I find that mom or a little girl makes the most sense since they would typically be the ones wearing a print.  So mom will be wearing a floral print dress (small pretty pattern that is).
    2. Now move on to the next person.  You will be pulling colors from mom’s dress so begin to think about who in the family would look good in what colors.  Dad doesn’t look so good in XYZ since it tends to drown out the tone in his skin.  Let’s pick ABC for him instead.  And so on.
    3. Then start to come up with ideas to personalize the session.  A little boy may have a security blanket or teddy bear he never parts with…. be sure to bring that with you.  The little girl may like crafting so have her make a cute matching headband or clip for her hair.  Mom loves tulips… on your way to the session pick some up.  Make thoughtful choices and be sure to discuss the ideas with your photographer!  Believe me, most are full of ideas however, it’s always nice when the family helps and truly ensures a “custom” session.

[...] Custom Photography Why Custom Photography Newborn Work Session Info Maternity What to Wear The Basics August 2011- Guides September 2011-Guides Design Portfolio Blog Designs Business Sets Logo [...]

[...] OMG! We have our family portrait session next week and I have no clue what to put on everyone? Should I just stick with white shirts and khakis like we did last year and the year before?? NOOOOOOO!! Please! While it is a lovely classic look I usually suggest my clients go for some color for their portrait session! We photographers get this question from our clients all the time and it is a great question!What do you wear for your portraits? I have given many suggestions and have a page on my blog with a few tips but I have a great article written by a photographer/designer in California whose work I admire. [...]

Susan - August 25, 2011 - 10:38 pm

[...] for a photo session!  This will disappear at the end of this weekend, but can permanently be found HERE!  Again, please respect my copyright and do NOT use this text without my permission OR a link back [...]

What to Wear | Elizabeth Ordonez Photography - November 28, 2011 - 9:35 pm

[...] What to Wear Written on November 29, 2011 by Editor in Blog A lot of clients ask me for advice on what to wear for their family sessions.  I always suggest coordinating (but not matching) in comfy, casual outfits.  I think jeans and sweaters are great, and I love bright colors!  Here are two examples of great family looks from Corina Nielsen’s blog. [...]

Monica Reid - December 11, 2011 - 1:05 pm

Happily linked back to you! Thanks for sharing you wrote what I couldn’t put in words that I wanted to say or was thinking ;)
You wrote it perfectly, thanks again!

[...] Advice on what to wear on your photo shoot has changed over the years. No longer are white shirts and jeans on everyone the trend. Below is a comprehensive “what to wear guide” by photographer/designer Corinna Nielsen. [...]

[...] you Corina for sharing your what to wear guides This entry was posted in Uncategorized   |    Bookmark the permalink. [...]

Danielle - February 25, 2012 - 7:54 pm

I just stumbled onto your site via pinterest. Whoa. Jackpot. Thank you so much for sharing the jpegs for these what to wear posts. You are awesome!

[...] Corina Nielson is one of my favourite what to wear ladies!! She has FANTASTIC advice!!  This page is a list of “do’s & don’ts” to help you plan your outfits!! But if you [...]

Melissa - May 11, 2012 - 12:08 pm

I would love to be permitted to use your what to wear tips on my site if you have no objection? Thank you for posting this!

Read it. Loved it. | - May 16, 2012 - 2:07 pm

[...] 1. A great list of dos and dont’s for what to wear to a photo shoot here. [...]

Brittany - July 10, 2012 - 10:40 pm

May I use your what to wear for my website? Please and thank you so much!!


Ashley Anger - July 30, 2012 - 10:01 am

I would love permission to use some of this on my website if you do not mind. As a new photographer, this was by far the best article I have read regarding what to wear! So helpful, and I’d love to be able to help others. =)

Thank you!

Shauna - August 6, 2012 - 10:53 am

I would love to use this on my website, but only with your permission of course. Would you mind??

Jennifer - August 9, 2012 - 9:12 am

Hi I am in the process of creating my website and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE all of your advice and ideas. I would love permission to use these clothing tips/words on my website :) with your permissions of course. Thanks so much for all you do to help us all out!

Megan - August 11, 2012 - 3:28 pm

I love this information! It is so helpful! Would love to use this on my blog/website! With of course your permission! WOuld that be ok?

Andrea - August 27, 2012 - 6:51 am

I love these tips. Can I use them in my website ?

Thank You very much !!

Kate - September 18, 2012 - 11:16 am

How would I get permission to use this on my site. I am offering mini sessions with a local charity and this would be great information to offer to my clients.

brandi - September 18, 2012 - 4:22 pm

you said it perfectly! Thanks. I would love to use this as well.

[...] The most asked question I receive from clients is “What should we wear?” So I have wanted to share on my blog advice on what to wear to your session. What to wear to a session and the styles of photography are different than when I was growing up. At Kate Giovinco Photography we want you to have the best experience when it comes to preserving your families memories. We want to help you from the time you call in to schedule a session until the print is hung on your wall. We offer a pre-consultation to discuss details of your session along with a complementary clothing consultation. The clothing consultation is where we come to your home and help you select the perfect outfits from clothes you already own so they reflect you. We personalize your shoot to fit your specific family and complete the experience with an in person ordering session where we sit down and decide on the art you want to display for years to come.  So below is a comprehensive “what to wear guide” by photographer/designer Corinna Nielsen. [...]

Kate - September 19, 2012 - 8:07 am

Thank you. I linked to your site.

jennifer - September 21, 2012 - 12:32 pm

i would love to use these tips on my site….i have been struggling with how to word this page. I will even add a link to your website to thank you for your tips if you don’t mind. thanks

[...] An even better guide on what to Wear (courtesy of Corina Nielsen Photography {she’s pretty amazing, and a huge inspiration to me}) – this is a printable that you can find at this link: [...]

[...] Anyways, I follow another photographers blog and love her do’s and dont’s for what to wear!  Check it out… [...]

[...] are my six guidelines. It seems a lot but this is a much better list and more detail. Happy Photos! Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the [...]

Amor - December 28, 2012 - 8:41 pm

Hello Corina, I used your writings above to my website:

Thank you so much!

Pla - January 22, 2013 - 2:37 pm

Your guide is brilliant. Can I have your permission to use on my website.
Thank you so much !

Larry - January 31, 2013 - 1:13 pm


I would really appreciate incorporating some of your guidelines on my site, they are very well done! Your permission would be appreciated.


Helen Sprague - April 2, 2013 - 1:22 pm

We are in the process of developing a site and ran across yours. We would really like to incorporating your guidelines on Melissa’s site, they are very well done and speaks to what she needs on her site! Your permission would be GREATLY appreciated. FYI: Would we provide a link back to your site as well as acknowledge you as the Author of this information.

Wedding Photographer Sydney - April 26, 2013 - 8:17 pm

Great tips. I personally liked the tip about colour co-ordinating (the best we can) and to have time-less clothing.

[...] So you have booked your session, but not sure what to wear? Here are some great tips from Corina Nielsen of Corina Nielsen Photography. [...]

Angela - August 12, 2013 - 6:28 pm

I love this! I have shared many ideas with my clients as well. It always helps! Angela Butler – Clarksville, TN -Newborn Photographer

Alicia Krantz Photography, Houston TX - September 16, 2013 - 6:15 pm

Love the guide! I couldn’t have put it all together and said it better myself! Shared it on my website and was more than happy to give you credit. Thank you for your fantabulous words! :)

LU - October 18, 2013 - 10:15 pm

Hello. I noticed your blog title, “” does not really reflect the content of your website. When creating your site title, do you believe it’s most beneficial to write it for Search engine optimisation or for your audience? This is one thing I’ve been battling with simply because I want good search rankings but at the same time I want the best quality for my site visitors.

Noell Soriano - October 19, 2013 - 7:34 am

I would love to be able to use this on my site. Can I please have permission? Please advise how you would like me to credit this back to you :) Thanks!

Becky Bryant - October 29, 2013 - 2:30 pm

Would LOVE to use this what to wear on my website. It is so complete. THANKS

Holiday Mini Session Guide | the Nerdy Artist - November 7, 2013 - 10:07 pm

[...] some inspiration for clothing? Check out  Corina Neilson’s “What to Wear” Guide & Outfit Inspiration - these are great starting points for your holiday photo [...]

Kelly - November 12, 2013 - 9:20 am

We’re taking our family pics soon. It’s fall & I was wondering if that royal blue & pink were to many pop of colors together. We’re also wearing jeans

Bethany - March 14, 2014 - 11:02 am

Hi Corina, I would love to use this on my site! Thank you so much for putting it together. May I have permission to use it?

Brianna - April 12, 2014 - 3:01 pm

Hi Corina! I absolutely LOVE your work as well as your what to wear guide. Would love to get your permission to post this on my site…I get the “What should we wear?” question all the time and think this is a great set of guidelines for them to follow!

Margene Griffies - May 21, 2014 - 3:46 pm

Because of-a-mundo for the short article.Owing Back again. Will study upon…

[...] This awesome list of do’s and dont’s is courtesy of [...]

Amanda - July 25, 2014 - 3:17 pm

I would love to use this for my site please

Mija - October 2, 2014 - 3:38 pm

Hi, May I copy this and post it on my photography page?

[...] Corina Neilsen is a photographer based in the USA.  She has written some great ‘what to wear’ guides and we offer some of her words of wisdom here on how to dress your whole family! [...]

Shannon - March 21, 2015 - 5:54 pm

I just read this exact same article on someone else’s website .. word for word the same as yours.. you may want to check it out.

Mary Fjellstad - May 1, 2015 - 8:28 pm

Hi Corina,
Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience. I have been taking portraits for years mostly for friends and family and my church. I have only been getting paid in the last year. I do not have a website or blog but I am wondering if I can copy it with your name at the top to use as a guideline for myself and the people that I have been photographing. I would appreciate hearing from you. I do not want to use it with out your permission.
Thank you
Mary Fjellstad

Elena - May 29, 2015 - 10:04 am

Thank you for all the information you share with us all learn new things every day.

Brandy Myrick - April 3, 2016 - 8:56 pm

Linked back to you! Thanks! This saved me a lot of time!

Brandy - April 5, 2016 - 12:56 pm

Linked back to you! Thank you so much!

Darany Vongprany - October 6, 2016 - 10:05 am

Hello Corina,

I have stumbled across your page and want to thank you for sharing this. I am wondering if I can please have your permission to share this with my clients in either a pdf form and/or website link.

Thank you in advance, and I look forward to hearing back from you!



Dominiq Selvam - November 30, 2016 - 2:38 am

Clothing should be from the same era . Especially it concerns the style of the old days of filming.

Regina Tacopino - November 30, 2016 - 8:36 am

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Abby - January 11, 2017 - 1:16 pm

I would love to have your permission to use this for my clients

secadoras de cafe - January 19, 2017 - 7:10 pm

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Ricky Ashmun - March 17, 2017 - 4:01 pm

Hi Corina, it is very difficult to try and explain to a client what to wear to a session, but you did an awesome job in this blog. I would love permission to link this page in my blog.
Thank you

Jewel Fahy - April 8, 2017 - 4:46 pm

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Cathey - August 30, 2017 - 8:29 am

Use’t fail to remember the Philadelphia 19th Century Foundation Ball Exhibition & Acceptable this weekend (Sep 15-16) at the Philadelphia Military Backyard Parade Grounds.

[...] last, I found this great advice from Corina Neilsen, an incredibly talented [...]

Biba Coupons - December 29, 2017 - 5:04 am

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Lizz - January 29, 2018 - 12:27 pm

Thanks for that great advice. Though I think that using patterns and funky colors is somewhat risky, since that can easily be too much for the photos. On the contrary, I think that many times, very simple clothing is best (like jeans and white shirt), especially for b&w portraits.

Also, I think that in the studio, bare feet are a must! Shoes are really unnecessary and make the portraits look formal or clumsy, whereas socks really ruin the whole picture. That’s why I always insist that shoes and socks are removed. I know, some people don’t like their feet, but I do insist on everyone baring their feet, as this makes for much better portraits. I don’t do close-ups of feet if people don’t want to, but I want feet to be visible to create that special impression of intimacy and being cozy.

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