It is the happy couple’s big day, and you are ready to document it. You’ve got your cameras, batteries, memory cards, & maybe even a little step ladder for those high-angle shots. But what are you going to wear as a wedding photographer?
You need clothes that reflect your professionalism and your photography brand. You also need to be comfortable enough to move, climb, kneel, sit, and bend. And finally, your clothing also needs to reflect the formality of the wedding. That is a lot to take into consideration.
There is a solution. The wedding photographer should wear dark or neutral-colored business formal clothing. Gentlemen should choose tailored slacks and a properly fitted button-down shirt. You can add a vest and bow tie to increase the formality and not tangle your camera gear.
Ladies should wear fitted trousers and a dressy blouse or a dress with a longer hemline and higher neckline. Remember that you will be moving, kneeling, and bending as you shoot. Wear supportive, comfortable shoes because you will be on your feet for 10+ hours. Keep reading to dig into the details.
Considerations for Choosing What to Wear as the Wedding Photographer
It is not appropriate to wear shorts, t-shirts, flip-flops, low cut tops, or very short skirts as a professional at a wedding. This kind of attire does not conjure up respect or trust for the work you are doing.
You are a professional photographer, and you are representing your personal brand. You are a walking advertisement for yourself. The impression you make on the people at the wedding, the happy couple, family, and guests, will impact your future jobs. Take the opportunity to present yourself in the best way possible.
Wear clothing that is business formal
Men should choose pants that fit well, and a button-down shirt. The formality of the wedding will dictate whether or not you need a suit jacket. Discuss this with your clients, as jackets may inhibit freedom of movement and can become entangled with camera equipment.
Ladies can choose between dresses or slacks. The color palette should remain black or neutral, and the clothing should be professional and modest. Avoid frills and ruffles that could interfere with camera straps or harnesses.
Some people advise that wedding photographers dress like a guest at the wedding. And to an extent, that is good advice. Your attire should match the level of formality of the guests at the wedding.
However, guests often wear bright colors that stand out. As a professional, you should wear something that is not distracting or eye-catching. Black, gray, or tan are good basics for outfits.
Match the Formality
For the most part, business formal attire will suit any wedding. However, you should consult with your clients. The wedding may be “black-tie” or “white-tie” formal. If this is the case, you may need to adjust your clothing to a more formal level.
By the same token, if the wedding is beachy casual, a black suit would be out of place as well (not to mention hot). Discuss the appropriate level of formality with your clients when you are discussing the contract.
When you are discussing the contract with your client, explain what you generally wear to weddings. Ask if any cultural taboos should be avoided. Certain colors may be symbolic of good or bad fortune, and you certainly do not want to misstep on this important day.
We all love pockets. If you are lucky, you can find some dresses and skirts with pockets, so you will have great places to stash extra memory cards, batteries, and tissues. If your favorite professional dress doesn’t have pockets, try topping it with a tailored blazer as long as it doesn’t become tangled in your camera straps.
When you are shopping for dressy trousers, search the men’s department if you want good pockets. Pants made for women tend to have no pockets or tiny, useless pockets. Men’s trousers may not precisely fit a female body type, but a good tailor or seamstress can adjust them for a better fit.
The fabric that you choose to wear can significantly impact your comfort and ability to move. Since you will be moving around, sitting, standing, kneeling, maybe even lying down, to get the perfect shot, your clothes need to move with you.
Try to find fabrics that have a little bit of stretch in them. Also, consider the weather and location of the wedding. If you are shooting outdoors in July, your stunning wool pants will not be a comfortable choice. And although you might be tempted to reach for linen in midsummer, it becomes creased and wrinkled quickly. Look for fabrics that are seasonally appropriate and have some stretch to them.
Always have a backup plan for your clothing. At the very least, throw a sewing kit and some safety pins into your bag. The best strategy is to have a backup outfit. You never know when a seam will rip (hopefully not the center seam on your pants), or someone will spill champagne down your shirt. A spare outfit in the car will reassure your mind that disaster can be averted.
Many photographers choose to wear black. Black is a nice neutral color that won’t clash with decorations and allows a person to blend into the background. Black is also great for photographers as it reduces the chance that they are reflected in any shiny surfaces. Light colors reflect more obviously in shiny cars or even in closeups of eyes.
If you (or the clients) prefer that you don’t wear black, gray, or tan will serve the same neutral purposes. Your job is to take photos and document the excitement, not to create it with your unique new hot pink ensemble.
However, you are representing your brand. If your logo has a pop of color, a bow tie in that color or a fashionable pair of earrings can reinforce the company brand without overselling it.
What to Wear as a Male Wedding Photographer
The men’s dress wear department has a lovely array of choices for dressy shirts. These are designed to be tucked in. To keep a good tuck, ensure that your shirt is fitted correctly and does not have excess fabric around your waist.
A properly fitted shirt is more likely to stay tucked in. You can have a tailor or seamstress alter it to remove the extra fabric and improve the fit. If you continue to struggle with it staying tucked neatly, you can opt for some shirt tucking tools.
One option is to add some rubberized tape to the inside of the side waistband of your pants. Once your shirt is tucked in neatly, the rubberized strips will hold the fabric a bit and keep it from tugging out.
If you definitely don’t want your shirt going anywhere, you can use shirt stays or shirt-tail garters for an extreme tuck. These are elastic bands similar to suspenders that attach your shirttail to your socks. They will keep your shirt tucked in, and your socks pulled up.
A comfortable yet tailored pair of trousers along with a well-fitting dress shirt are appropriate for most occasions. A properly fitting pair of trousers will give you room to move, but not be baggy around the seat, thighs, and knees.
By the same token, they should not be too tight and strain in those same areas. The inseam should not be so short as to reveal your whole ankle. The hem should just touch the foot in the front but not touch the ground in the back.
Avoid wearing loose-fitting or baggy pants as they tend to make you look rumpled. A heavier fabric tends to make pants that sit better on the body.
Thin fabrics wrinkle easily and don’t hold their form correctly. Remember to wear a nice leather belt or bracers that match your ensemble.
Your socks should match your pants. Although there are many exciting and amusing socks out there, someone else’s wedding is not the day to wear your “cows abducted by aliens” socks.
Wear comfortable and supportive shoes, but not running shoes. Those with a rubber sole are more likely to be comfortable than those with a leather sole unless they are broken in well.
Oxfords, brogues, and loafers are great options for gentlemen.
What to Wear as a Female Wedding Photographer
Skirts and dresses
If you wear a dress to photograph a wedding, you should test it out first. You will want to ensure that the dress moves with you easily while you shoot. Check that your hemline is long enough that it doesn’t ride up when you kneel or bend. If the skirt is loose or flowy, consider wearing spandex underneath in the event your skirt catches a breeze.
Check the dress’s neckline. Loose or low-cut necklines can lead to revealing moments as you shift around to get the perfect shot. Also, since you represent yourself as a professional, avoid thin straps or sleeveless tops and opt instead for at least a small sleeve.
A basic black sheath dress will serve you well. It can be worn for many levels of formality. Just dress it up with a blazer and gold jewelry. Or you can easily blend into a casual crowd with a simple necklace and flats. It’s also a great choice in a variety of colors.
When you choose a feminine blouse, keep the same neckline and sleeve considerations in mind. Many ladies blouses are designed to be worn untucked. If that is the case consider the length of the hem. Again, remember that you will be moving, bending, and stretching. You want to ensure that the top is long enough that it doesn’t ride up as you move.
When choosing a blouse, you should also consider one that is fitted and free of excess ruffles and fabric. Although these are fun and attractive, they may become entangled in your camera straps and be more trouble than they are worth.
Pants or Pantsuits
Pants are a fabulous choice for a photographer. Given the occasional acrobatics, you must perform in order to get the perfect shot, pants can give you the flexibility to move when a dress may be more restricting. Another bonus: pants have pockets! When you are shopping for pants, look for some with stretch so you can really move in them.
A pantsuit or jumper is also a great choice for photographers. You won’t have to worry about your top riding up or you’re slipping down through the day. They also come in stretchy fabrics and range from casual to extremely formal. You are bound to find one that fits the occasion.
As you well know, you are going to be on your feet all day. Choosing the best shoes will go a long way toward keeping you fresh and on your toes long into the reception. Choose shoes with rubber soles that will support your feet. Leather soles are not as flexible and often lack traction. Try out some memory foam insoles to give yourself a little added comfort on those long days.
Ballet flats, low heels, loafers, or oxfords are all excellent choices for long wedding days. Avoid high heels or sandals because they are less supportive and will add to your foot pain.
You are planning to keep the palette neutral with black, gray, or tan so that the focus stays on the wedding party. But that does not mean you have to completely forgo your own style.
Gents can dress up pants and a dress shirt, add a vest and bow tie. These accessories will be unlikely to tangle with your camera equipment, and an interesting bow tie will make a pleasant conversation starter as you transition between locations.
Dresses and blouses may call for necklaces and earrings. Keep them classy but subtle. Shorter necklaces will be easier to manage so that they don’t tangle in your camera straps.
- What should I budget for my wedding photographer?
- What gear does a wedding photographer need?
- What skills do you need to be a wedding photographer?
- What are the most comfortable flats?
Reminders for Wedding Photographers
You need to be able to move all day long. Choose clothes that are professional and neutral but that can move with you. Be sure to match the level of formality of the wedding. Ask the clients if you are unsure. Choose your shoes carefully. Flat shoes with rubber soles and supportive insoles will get you through a long day of shooting.