Running your own business is stressful. Not only do you have to act as the employee and the employer, but you have to set your own rules to come off with the right brand appearance and professionalism to suit you: and if you get these wrong, it could seriously impair your business, meaning that clients and guests could say bad things about you and earn you many fewer bookings. One of these struggles, in particular, is dressing as a female wedding photographer.
Clothes. What does one wear to a wedding? That’s a struggle in itself, even as a guest. Some of the most frequent posts I see on Facebook these days have captions such as: “Is this appropriate for a wedding, I don’t want to show up the bride or look bad.” And it’s an entirely valid fear! So dressing as the photographer, somebody who will be seen following the bride around all day, is not an easy feat – and I will admit I’ve struggled with it over the years, and I’m sure many of you have too.
When you search google for terms such as “what to wear female wedding photographer” and “female photographer clothes”, the pages may as well be the dictionary for how useful they are. There’s the odd piece of mixed (but somewhat valuable) advice such as:
- Dress as a wedding guests
- Dress to impress
- Dress comfortably
- Wear a suit
- Wear all black
But there’s no real inspiration. There’s no real help to the answer that’s screaming in our mind as we panic about how we are going to present ourselves as the next wedding. What do you wear as a wedding photographer to remain comfortable, friendly, yet professional? Well, I’m hoping to shed a little bit of light. Provide you with some inspiration. Will it definitely help? I’m not sure… but I’m hoping it does something to help you calm down and stop frenziedly googling “female wedding photographer clothes”!
Now, let me start by saying I’ve tried them all. I’ve dressed beautifully, in a lovely dress or jumpsuit. I’ve worn a full formal suit. I’ve dressed in all black (which, sorry, is my go-to when I can’t find an outfit, it’s the easiest thing to do.) I’ve dressed down and comfortably. Let me tell you about the experiences.
Dressing down and comfortably:
Oh yes, in the blazing heat of late July I kept cool in plain shorts and a long, plain tee. But: I got burnt. (I mean, that’s my fault, but still, boo.) The main problem was, dressing “down” made me feel unprofessional, self conscious and generally nervous. I have anxiety and I spent half the day feeling bad about my dressing, which was distracting from the work. Not my cup of tea, I like to try and relax as much as possible, which is very hard when you’re on edge already!
Dressing in a gorgeous dress or jumpsuit:
I felt beautiful, but this made me very flustered. There are no pockets, you have to worry about how you walk and stand incase it doesn’t move easily, or blows up. There’s not room for lots of free movement, to get into odd angles – OR there is room, but it means your dress hikes up and shows off your knickers. Great for being a guest, not so great for working in my opinion. Some people may be able to work comfortably in this, but not me as a female wedding photographer who likes to be comfortable.
Dressing in a suit:
I don’t know why, but wearing a suit makes me feel clunky and masculine. It’s not my cup of tea, I felt self concious and downright miserably the whole day because of it and I won’t be doing it again. I need to focus on my work as a female wedding photographer who needs a good outfit!
Dressing all in black:
Now, this is my default that I return to if I’m flustered, can’t find my outfit or am running late. It’s simple and easy and I always feel comfortable, which means I can focus on my work. I blend in with the other suppliers and don’t take much attention away from the bride. All in all, I usually feel good. BUT: I do feel that black makes me look unnaproachable. I think that it’s quite a hard, negative colour that gives off a bit of a bad vibe. I am particularly pale myself, and that contrasts harshly, making the black of my clothes look even darker. It is a comfortable combination, but I do worry that it means people don’t approach me for photos, and are put off of talking to me and being friendly.
What should I wear?
My take, what I think it the best to wear to weddings:
My favourite wedding wear is:
Black leggings or stretchy/comfortable pants
- that allow for lots of movement, crouching, running around, getting into odd positions and make me feel comfortable and not awkward. (Black is also a slimming colour on the behind and legs! Always wear high waisted to nip in that waist, which makes you comfy and confident – and also means that when you bend over, you’ll never get that “Builders bum” problem!) I find boohoo leggings very comfortable.
Ankle boots with a small heel.
- They give that small amount of confidence, (lift that butt a little, girl! Stride and slay!) but are practical. They’re flexible, they stop my feet getting wet or muddy when trecking through mud and puddles. But they also look good, and therefore I feel good! And when you feel good, you’re confident and you work better. Pick a colour that goes with your outfit, I usually just wear tan or black but you could match your top or jacket. (Though if you’re hiking somewhere far off the track, abandon that all together and get yourself a good pair of hiking boots. You can also wear these to the weddings, but I find they get a little too hot, but they’re completely practical.)
A plain, simple coloured top or tunic with some detail.
- I like to choose a colour that seems “approachable” and not so harsh like black. So my favourite colours to wear are: White, Dusky Pink, Olive Green. I choose these because they suit my personality, my skin tone and colouring and my hair. Different colours might work better for you, depending on your skin tone and hair and generally which colours you like! (Olive green and dusky pink are my favourite colours, so I feel nice wearing them.) I try and choose tops with long sleeves (that’s a confidence thing, I don’t like my arms), a soft material that you feel great wearing and some slight detail, so they don’t feel too “comfortable and plain” and look a little more fancy, suiting the wedding. Lace overlay details are my favourite. I often feel most comfortable wearing a strappy camisole underneath these tops (usually white) just incase they fly up when I’m running and rolling around!
Jacket: a light, but professional, jacket is preferable.
- I have an olive green summer overcoat, a thick black and white winter coat and a leather jacket. But you could wear whatever you feel most comfortable in. As long as the rest of you is presentable, you could theoretically wear a hoody or comfortable jumper with your logo on (or plain) for anything you do outdoors.
Jewellery for the female wedding photographer:
- I try not to wear anything that makes noise (distracting from the wedding) or that will get in the way. So, no chunky necklaces, no jingling bangles. I have facial piercings and several ear piercings, I just keep my plain studs in my lip and eyebrow and hoops in my ears and have always felt great and never had a complaint. Rings are a possibility depending on how well you work with your fingers, they might get in the way or annoy you when shooting, so think about that before wearing them. Bracelets: I think keeping them simple, nothing too big or distracting is best. Thin chains and charms, nothing that jangles. And necklaces the same, thin chains and charms and nothing that makes noise. You don’t want to be in the quiet church, running around making a jangling noise like a cat with a bell! We want to feel like a professional female wedding photographer… not a kitty!
Lastly: my camera.
- I’ve tried a variety of different straps. Hip belts feel awkward on me and make me feel like they are squeezing all my fat upwards. No thank you! Shoulder straps feel like they are going to fall off. Straps that go round your neck bounce awkwardly around. I even tried one of the amazon harnesses that fastens around your chest for two cameras hanging by your hips: that was awful. It kept riding up my boobs uncomfortably and never sat right, that was definitely designed for men! So I invested in a leather camera harness that goes around my arms and crosses over my back, with cameras hanging by my hips. It’s stylish and it feels very comfortably and easy to have two cameras on hand. I recommend it to anyone. Holdfast ones are great, but you can also get custom ones for about £80 on etsy – I used SixMagpiesLeather.
Now, I’ve talked about what I think is best and worst, so let’s talk about ideas! You might prefer something that I hate – but everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and everyone is different!
I don’t know about you, but I have become a big user of pinterest this year, since thousands more users are joining it and people are beginning to find their photographers, ideas and more through it. I think it’s invaluable for photographers to be prominent on all social media platforms! So, I’ve decided to create a pinterest board of ideas to help provide inspiration for photographers. I will mainly stick to things that I think would be best to wear: matching my comfort and style, but I will share some other examples to provide inspiration for those of you that are dressier!
Here’s the direct link to my pinterest board for you, which is organised and I will update: