What to Wear for Black and White Studio Portraits: A Complete Guide

Eric Cathell Photography

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What to Wear for Black and White Studio Portraits: A Complete Guide

Taking black and white studio portraits is a special way to document your family. It’s different than just taking your typical selfies, but it can be overwhelming if you don’t know what to wear. This guide will help you figure out everything, from choosing the right clothes to dressing your kids and pets in their best outfits. Whether you’re looking for a casual all-black look or something more formal, this guide will tell you exactly what to wear for black and white studio portraits.

Selecting Your Wardrobe for Black and White Studio Portraits

Choosing what to wear for your family’s black and white studio portraits is a completely personal decision. However, if you’re looking for something formal, these are some things to keep in mind:

  •  Jewel tones(except ruby) work best and normally photograph well.
  •  Avoid reddish hues, especially fire engine red. It simply does not translate well to black and white. Dark Burgundy or Dark maroon could be ok, but be sure to bring additional tops, just in case.
  •  If you have light-colored clothing with patterns or textures, they’ll translate well onto the film so it’s worth experimenting!

Casual All-Black Look

Delaware Pet Photography
If you’re looking for a casual all-black look, a simple long sleeve mock turtleneck t-shirt and some black jeans will do the trick. And don’t forget your favorite pair of sneakers!

Formal Black and White Studio Portrait

If you’re looking for something a little more formal than your typical black and white studio portrait, then you’ll want to wear a nice suit. This is typically the most popular option for these types of portraits when it comes to adults.

  • Men should wear dark slacks or dress pants and a white shirt with a dark tie.
  • Women should wear a dress, skirt, or pants and a top that all match in color. Put on heels or flats depending on the height of the outfit.
  • Add jewelry if you like but be sure that it matches your outfit’s color scheme.

What to Do with Your Clothes Before Your Photoshoot

To get the best possible photograph, you need to dress your family in clothes that will not be distracting or out of place when photographed. 


Next, avoid wearing clothes with tight patterns(herringbone), thin stripes, or busy prints(paisley). Remember sticking with solid colors, when choosing your wardrobe, are the easiest to work with.

While quite lovely, these types of shirts are best left for our Family Beach Sessions

What Not to Do, Things to Avoid

Example Colors for Black and White Studio Portraits

There are some things you should avoid when dressing yourself or your family for black and white studio portraits.




Don’t wear too much color: when you’re taking black and white photos, it’s best to dress in monochromatic colors. Wear dark hues like navy blue, charcoal gray, or black. Or try lighter colors like light gray or cream. These shades will look great on camera and create a clean backdrop for your photos.


Don’t wear anything that has glitter or is shiny: You want to avoid anything that might reflect light awkwardly during the shoot so put away your sequins, metallic fabrics, and any other shiny items.


Long sleeves for adults are highly recommended. Younger kids can be sleeveless or short sleeves. Frilly dresses and dress-up clothes are always welcome for toddlers.


Don’t wear anything with words on it or graphic tees. These will age and you may come to not like the photos because of them.

Other Tips and Tricks

  • Dress in layers: Dressing in layers is always a good idea, this allows you to have different looks without much effort. It’s pretty amazing how a jacket or cardigan can change the mood of your images.
  • Get creative with props: This is where things get fun! Bring in different things that represent who you are and what you love. You could bring in toys if you have kids, books if you’re an avid reader, or even your pet if they’re well behaved (and don’t shed too much).
  • Wear comfortable shoes: Choosing the perfect shoes is crucial for any outfit–especially if you’ll be walking around for a while before sitting down to take your photos. Make sure that your wedges or flats are not only comfortable but also practical. And of course, make sure that whatever shoes you choose match your outfit!