Dress Code for Photographers and Writers

Photographer at Work. Pano. B&W rendering. ©Alina Oswald.

Dress Code for Freelance Writers and Photographers

Years ago I used to walk in the Halloween Parade in New York City. I wouldn’t dress up for Halloween. Instead, I’d walk with a friend who always knows how to dress to impress. While he’d put on self-made black-leather wings and leather pants, I’d go as his photographer.

Now that I went down that memory lane, the question is:

Is there a specific dress code for freelance writers and/or photographers when they’re out, working on an assignment?

Hanging Suits. Getting Ready – Wedding Photography by Alina Oswald.

We usually associate a profession with a certain dress code or vice versa. For example, medical doctors usually wear white coats, and so on.

It’s common for photographers to wear black, especially when covering weddings or other events. But what about writers?

Years ago, when I started writing, freelance writing was often described, and advertised to newcomers as writing in your pj’s from the comfort of your home, with no particular nine-to-five schedule. The reality is slightly different. Writing, working from home in general, has a schedule, mostly driven by deadlines. Writers can write in their pajamas but I think that that’s more the exception to the rule.

Also, oftentimes writers do have to go out to cover a story, especially when writing for magazines and/or newspapers. So, what do writers wear while on assignment? Definitely not their pajamas.

As writers and/or photographers we are telling stories (that need telling), usually while trying not to become the story, ourselves. So, when covering an in-person interview or attending an event that we then need to report on, the general idea is to dress appropriately for the assignment, without attracting unwanted attention to ourselves.

Different assignments call for different dress codes. For example, the dress code for covering a wedding or an artsy event is usually different than the dress code for going on location to cover a story about an animal shelter or a street festival. Since oftentimes, as freelancers, we end up doing the writing and the photography, it’s usually a good idea to wear black or darker colors.

In Hawaii, at the Allerton Garden. Posing with the Jurassic Park tree.

My two cents: dress appropriately for the particular assignment you have to cover as a writer and/or photographer; also, wear clothes that look good and make you look like a pro, but clothes that are also comfortable and, especially for women, shoes that are made for walking, sometimes running, and mostly standing.

So, let’s look at a few examples from personal experience:

As I mentioned above, photographers usually wear black clothes in order not to stand out, and also not to reflect unwanted light on their subjects.

When I started photographing weddings, I realized that I needed to buy appropriate clothes for the job. I chose black pants that allow me to move easily and work while standing, running, or on my knees. I also chose several black tops that look decent but are also comfortable to wear. Instead of opting for short sleeves, I went with long very thin (veil) sleeves, as well as solid black sleeves.

To get a better idea, here is a bts group picture, after photographing the wedding of two wonderful friends. Instead of throwing the bouquet, they picked me up, together with the best men and other friends, for a shot with the photographer.

Bts wedding photography.
No bouquet? No problem. Throw the photographer! Bts image of grooms, best men, and friends holding the wedding photographer.

Other assignments call for other dress codes. For example, for photographing, say, the red mud or lava flow in Hawaii, invest in some appropriate gear, in particular hiking boots. Also, choose comfortable pants with lots of pockets, and vests with pockets. Dress in layers, maybe not necessarily in black; protect yourself and your gear against the elements.

When photographing from the top of Haleakala National Park, in Maui, dressing in layers came in handy. We began our trip late in the afternoon, hoping to see the sunset from above the clouds and to capture the Brockengespenst, also known as the Ghost of Brocken or Brocken Spectre. (I actually did!).

Problem is that, at 10,000 feet above sea level, once the sun goes down, it gets really, really, really cold. I needed not only a jacket but also gloves, in particular, if I wanted to keep my hands and fingers from freezing and use them to take pictures.

I usually wear wristbands, especially when having to hold the camera for long periods of time. Make sure that the wristband colors match your clothes. For example, do wear rainbow wristbands when photographing the NYC Pride. Do not wear red wristbands and black slacks when photographing a wedding.

Visiting the Big Island of Hawaii.
Visiting the Big Island of Hawaii.

When covering severe or bad weather, you can use a rain cover or rain sleeve for your camera and lens. I bought mine from B&H, several years ago. Also, when going out to photograph in a blizzard, check out gloves made for photographers. Again, I got my photography gloves from B&H. The ones I have are for men, I believe, but women can get a smaller size. I like mine very much and they do come in handy.

Protect yourself and your gear (but mostly yourself) at all times. Remember, safety always comes first! You can always replace the gear.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Alina Oswald


    1. Thanks Christina for your note! Appreciate it. And, yes, the dress code is not really considered important until it is. Until you actually have to get out of the house and cover a story. I’m glad you liked it 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.