How to Dress as a Wedding Photographer

No matter where you live in the US, if you Google “wedding photographer,” your search engine will generate a list of at least ten professional party photographers in the vicinity. In addition to those listings, another dozen or so sponsored links attract clicks with discounts, free albums, and other deals.

So if you’re running a photography business, you can bet your clients expect you to show up on time and dress professionally. While different types of weddings will have different dress codes–for instance, you probably don’t have to wear a suit to a beach wedding–there is one crucial rule to keep in mind when dressing for the job: Don’t stand out.

"Female wedding photographer on Morro Strand State Beach, Morro Bay, CA" captured by Mike Baird (Click image to see more from Baird)

“Female wedding photographer on Morro Strand State Beach, Morro Bay, CA” captured by Mike Baird

How do wedding photographers dress? Here are some general rules for how to dress at any type of wedding, regardless of location or religious affiliation:

  • Look sharp. Iron everything. You won’t be in any of the photos, but guests will notice the shabby guy or gal running around with the photography equipment.
  • Wear sensible shoes. You will be lugging around heavy equipment and may be climbing ladders and chairs. A small heel is OK for a female photographer, but sneakers, sandals, and flip-flops are a huge no-no. (Unless, of course, you’re snapping shots on the sand.)
  • Don’t dress in street wear. Ever. Don’t wear baseball caps, saggy jeans, or t-shirts (especially those with inappropriate sayings or images). For a very informal wedding, say, a courthouse nuptial and backyard party, you can probably get away with black slacks, shoes and black tee.
Don't dress in street wear like this photographer. — "Wedding Photographer" captured by "omefrans" (flickr account name). Click image to see more from   omefrans.

Don’t dress in street wear like this photographer. — “Wedding Photographer” captured by “omefrans” (flickr profile name)

Most wedding photographers can gauge appropriate attire during their interview with the bride and groom, during which it will be revealed if the reception is going to be religious, black tie, informal or have a theme. Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when asking yourself, how to dress:

  • Religious and cultural weddings: For certain types of religious weddings, men and women have very strict clothing requirements. For a conservative Jewish or Muslim wedding, females may be required to wear a dress or even a head covering.
  • Formal weddings: Fitting in is your best bet. That goes for staff as well. Showing up in a shabby, off-the-rack suit will make you stand out among the sea of tuxedos and gowns. At the same time, lay low on the jewelry. For men this shouldn’t be an issue. But female photographers should resist wearing their best sparkling jewels.
  • Informal affairs: It’s impossible to predict how guests to these affairs will show up. While some backyard parties are elegant events with tents, fountains, and carved-ice sculptures, others are BBQ shindigs with guests sporting their favorite sports jerseys. Often, male and female photographers can get away with the all-black get up: black jeans or slacks, tee or button-up, and black shoes or tennis shoes. If you’re sure the informal party has no dress code policy, khaki pants with a white tee or button up is perfectly acceptable attire. For professional purposes, you should still avoid dressing down in shorts, a t-shirt, a baseball cap, etc., regardless of how the guests are dressed. Every affair is an opportunity to hand out business cards.
"Wedding Photographer" captured by K. Praslowicz (Click image to see more from Praslowicz)

“Wedding Photographer” captured by K. Praslowicz

Since it’s impossible to predict what kind of expectations your bride and groom will have for the wedding staff, asking your clients how they expect you to dress is the best approach. And don’t hesitate to remove your tie or stash less formal wear in your car if you show up in a nice suit and find that you’re sticking out like a sore thumb.

About the Author:
This article was written and posted by Ross Taylor on behalf of e&b photography from Oakland, California. They always dress right for the occasion when performing their services, whether they’re in the capacity as a wedding photographer or at a corporate event.

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5 Comments

  1. joe says:

    i haven’t finished reading above but i was 2nd video cam at a wedding when i saw the photographer and her assistant, both wearing black t-shirts w/ the photog’s company’s name on the back. it wasn’t something subtle either. the text was large, loud and obnoxious! but hey, at least the t-shirt was black.

  2. Mike Penney says:

    Black T shirts make you look like a roady at a rock concert… That ain’t the way to look IMO.

    In Seattle if you don;t say something to the “average” wedding photographer these days you might get a person in a Jack in the Box uniform to shoot your wedding since more than half of these “so called” photographers are really flipping buns …. to save enough for the one big camera (usually a rebel) that will make all their photos award winners.

    Stay home! Let someone who knows what the hell they are doing create wedding photos. If you haven;t worked as an assistant and put in some time working with people how could you possibly do the job?

  3. Rick Phillips says:

    Really: black t-shirt and tennis shoes? Either one is out of place at ANY wedding where the bride and groom are over 16 years old! If it’s okay to dress casual, then you may wear nice slacks, a long sleeved shirt, and hard-soled shoes (this applies to both sexes). Anything else is disrespectful of the bridal party and disgraces professional photographers. This article needs to be pulled – soonest!

  4. Barry page says:

    This is a real eye opener for those photographers who are not up to the mark in their dressing sense and looks a bit shabby while doing photography.
    A poorly dresses wedding photographer can not leave a positive impact on the guests in party.
    Classification given in the post is really coll and useful for those people who are not sure what to wear in which place.

  5. I disagree, tennis shoes are fine, as long as they are a solid non-attention grabbing color. I wear black pants, a nice polo/dress shirt(depending on the venue etc), and black tennis shoes. I am on my feet for up to 12 hours depending on the wedding, and I am going to wear something that I can stand in for that long.

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