Here’s something we get asked a lot. “Should I bring a change of clothes to wear?” There’s no simple answer. It depends on you, what you want from your photos, and how you plan to use your photos. So, rather than simply telling you what I think, here are the benefits and drawbacks of each decision.

Pros:

Your look will have more variety in the resulting images

Lets say after your session, you want to put a bunch of photos on the mantle in your home, or you want a few photos on your desk at work. When you change clothes during your session, you’re making some variety for these sorts of things. Think about it, if you wear the same thing through the whole session, then put a photo over the fireplace, a photo in the hall, and two on top of the piano, it’s going to start to look almost like your home is a shrine to this one photo shoot. Clothes add variety and for friends and family who see them, they won’t immediately assume it’s all from one session.

It’ll let you show off your range of style

We all have a personal fashion spectrum, and while you might not want to include images of yourself in the sweatpants and tank top end of the spectrum, there are plenty of reasons you might want to include images from your more casual side, all the way up to your Sunday best. If you like to send newsletters, have business cards, do all kinds of social media and also like to hang some photos up at home, a change of clothes will show off more than one dimension of who you are.

It lets you let you reboot the session

There’s a flip side to this that we’ll discuss in the cons in a moment. Here’s the thing, sometimes you feel tense and it’s not getting better throughout the shoot. There’s plenty of things that could be the cause of that, but for a lot of people, it’s a sense of personal discomfort based on how they’re dressed. People often like to show off some clothes they like, but rarely wear in their day to day lives. The problem is this often means they’re not accustomed to how they feel in those clothes and it keeps them feeling tense and distracted and actively wondering how they look. A quick change of clothes, especially into something you’re more accustomed to wearing, can reboot your mental process and help you relax.

Cons:

There might not be anywhere to change comfortably

Does your car have tinted windows? No? How do you feel about public nudity? The biggest challenge with bringing a change of clothes to your session is that a lot of sessions don’t afford anywhere to change in peace. We’re talking about public places here. In most cases, the backseat of your car is the only option for privacy. In some cases, there might be a public bathroom nearby, but it’s rare.

‘Getting back in the groove’ might slow you down

I mentioned that “rebooting” the session has a flip side, well this is it. People are rarely comfortable in front of the camera right away. We regularly observe that the more relaxed and natural images with our clients come after about 15 or 20 minutes of shooting. Depending on how naturally comfortable with the camera you are, changing clothes can undo that progress and slow things down. Especially if you know the clothing you’re changing into looks good, but don’t feel it yet.

There won’t be as much variety in the backdrops

If you want to change clothes during your session, staying near a place that will be comfortable (or legal) enough to do so will be crucial. While most sessions will have you wandering with your photographer to find the best spots, a change of clothes will limit how far you can go before needing to turn back with enough time to change clothes and start shooting again. Ultimately, this is going to reduce the number of different shooting spots and take some sense of variety away from the photos.