6 Tips For How to Change Clothes During a Photo Shoot

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One of the more challenging things when working on location for your portraits is figuring out where to change your clothes. You’ve brought multiple outfits to your session, so now what? It’s a bit harrowing, especially if we’re out in the middle of the woods with no bathrooms or vehicles within a mile. On the flip side, it’s surprisingly difficult to find a restaurant, coffee shop, or store that will allow access to their bathrooms in the city without first purchasing something. So if there isn’t a dressing room handy, how can you change clothes without becoming a momentary exhibitionist?

How to Change Clothes During a Photoshoot

Change Only Your Shirt

One of the simplest ways to get variety is to wear a different shirt or top. Blue jeans are pretty standard for most outfits. By changing just your shirt or adding/removing a jacket, you can quickly and easily transition between looks. This tip is WAY more applicable in the fall, winter, or spring seasons when you’re already working with a layer or two. Changing out a sweater or jacket is simple and can provide a significant difference in outfits. For example, I can have a business-type fellow wear jeans, a button-down shirt, sports jacket, and dress shoes for one look, and then transition to jeans, a long sleeve shirt, vest, and some sneakers with relative ease. Keeping pants the same between looks is the crucial point here. Undershirts are also helpful for changing tops without feeling overly self-conscious.

Have a Car Nearby

This isn’t always possible, but sometimes the backseat of a car or the trunk of an SUV is the only privacy you’re going to find to change outfits during a photo session. It’s cramped, usually messy, and may make the car look like the Dilophosaurus scene from Jurassic Park with Nedry and the Jeep. However, you get some decent privacy and keep your clothes from touching the ground.

Changing clothes in a car is like a dilophosaurus attack
Changing clothes in a car is like a Dilophosaurus attack

Locate All The Bathrooms

If you’re shooting in the suburbs or the city (and some select parks), you may be fortunate to have a local restroom to use as a changing closet. Great in a pinch, these provide the best privacy. Unfortunately, they may not always be the cleanest. I typically recommend coffee shops because they tend to be the most sanitary and easiest to access. Some coffee shops require a purchase to use their restroom, so take it as an opportunity to enjoy a warm drink and take a breather. Short breaks are a beautiful thing in the middle of your photoshoots.

Create a Mobile Changing Closet

This one requires a couple of extra hands and occurs on shoots in remote locations. A couple of people hold up large sheets or towels and create a small room around you to change within. So long as no one is a Peeping Tom and the sheets are big enough, this is a pretty safe and comfortable way to make a change in the middle of the woods. Only downside? People’s arms are going to get real tired, real fast, and you need at least three people to pull it off  (no pun intended). If you’ve got enough spare hands available to carry it all, your photographer can use their lightstands to hold up the sheets. There are also pop-up tents you can buy that are extremely handy and portable!

Bring Hangers for your Clothes

Bathrooms aren’t always clean, so it helps to hang up your clothes. I usually bring a spare lightstand to my sessions to serve as an improvised coat rack. Now, instead of laying freshly pressed clothes on top of bags, clients can hang them on my lightstand and be perfectly water, dirt, and wrinkle-free. You can also hang your clothes off of trees, fences, railings, etc.

Make a Plan!

Once you’ve figured out the location(s) for your session, your photographer should do some research and plan your shooting locations such that you end up near a changing area/room/place without having to hike back and forth to the car. They can also prep you for what to expect and what will need to happen to make significant wardrobe changes.

Summary

There’s no perfect solution, unfortunately, but the above tips can help make changing clothes on location much more manageable. I’d also recommend having some clothespins and a lint brush handy. If you’re good with moderation, a de-wrinkle or wrinkle release spray helps too (be careful not to create wet spots).

Check out this post if you’re trying to decide whether to have your session on-location or in a studio.

Know any other tips or tricks for on-location changing? Leave a comment below or Contact Me.

Updated 08/20/20

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