Professional/comfortable clothing for both male and female photographers
A photographer has to worry about a number things and when I say a number things it does not always have to be related with his/her shooting gear. As a matter of fact what a photographer wears is just as important as what he uses to make his images.
Why you need to wear professional / comfortable clothes at a wedding
Professional and comfortable clothing is essential for a photographer. There are a number of reasons for that. Of course you have to look good when making images in public (except may be when you are shooting wildlife, when even a camouflage is wearable and acceptable and no one will mind you for that) because you carry your brand image wherever you go. By all means don’t wear something unkempt.
The second and most important reason is that you are expected to dress for the occasion. Dressing for the occasion is important in some situations because no matter what you shouldn’t be the one to stick out like a sore thumb in a medley of people. You wouldn’t want to arrive at a formal wedding wearing a pair of worn-out jeans and sneakers. You would definitely turn a lot of heads and for all the wrong reasons.
If you are unsure, the best thing you can do is ask your client(s) whether the event is formal or casual. Not all weddings are formal. Like in Indian weddings you as the photographer may not be expected to wear a sherwani complete with a turban. You could very well wear a jacket and a pair of jeans and shoot the entire wedding without anyone taking any offence.
The third important reason, and this one’s all about comfort, is that you will be shooting for the best part of the day wearing what you picked for the day. Picking the black backless dress for the evening just because you wanted to blend in with the rest of the invitees could easily backfire. Such a dress would severely restrict your movements. Your photo options will be limited too. Low cut dresses, deep V-necks and basically anything shorter than knee length are absolute no-no.
The color of the dress that you wear is very important too. Black is a traditional color on a wedding day. The groom wears a black suit and so does the groomsmen. However, in some cultures black is literally the harbinger of bad luck, even death. Think white would be a more universal choice? Think again. White is worn in some cultures as the sign of loss of a dear one and is the choice of dress for mourning. Thus, wearing white to a wedding is a taboo in some cultures too. Again, when you are unsure, the best way to go would be to ask the clients, especially if it is a multi-cultural event or a cross-cultural wedding, if it’s ok to wear certain colors. Having said all that, black is a favorite of mine because it always tends to draw less attention and allows me to blend in.
Other events like birthdays, baby portraits, etc.
I am not going to restrict myself to wedding photography only as there is a whole wide world outside just wedding photography tread by photographers. Let’s say you are simply shooting baby portraits. What should you be wearing? Now, coming from a sales background my first recommendation would be to wear something that borders on casual but has a bit of professionalism in it too. If you are a guy one way to go would be to wear a pair of comfortable cotton trousers, formal shoes and t-shirt, preferably one with your business brand name stitched on. Wonderful way to market your brand name. Having said that if you are a girl avoid the stilettos and opt for flats. Apart from that, again, wear something that allows you to exploit every photographic opportunity and has less chances of embarrassment.
At the end of the day your dress should say a lot about you as well as your brand image. You are free to carry your personal style as long as it does not offend any social customs / practices. Dressing good is important but going overboard with it is not. Your first identification is that you are the photographer and that you are serious about your work.
Especially if it’s in summer you need caps / hats / proper clothes preferably cotton in pastel shades and of course sunblock as a protection. Personally I prefer caps to hats as I can simply wear it backwards when looking through the viewfinder and prevent it from becoming an interference. I never shoot with my shades on though I carry them to wear in between when I am not shooting. One more tip: always carry an anti-perspiration roll-on or deo to help prevent those smelly underarms.
If the weather is slightly cooler I prefer a photographer’s sleeveless jacket, the type that has probably half a dozen pockets. It is extremely useful for carrying small items such as filters, filter adapters, filter holders, a spare battery, a lens pen, some IDs etc.