Maximizing Your Photography Trips Through Appropriate Clothing Choices

Capturing the beauty of the natural world through photography is an art form that requires a keen eye, technical skills, and creative vision. However, one often underestimated aspect that can significantly impact the outcome of a landscape photography trip is the choice of clothing.

Whether you're a seasoned professional or an enthusiastic amateur, the right clothing can make all the difference not only in your comfort but also in the quality of your photographs. In this article, we delve into the importance of selecting the appropriate attire to get the most out of your outdoor photography adventure.

Comfort Enables Creativity

Comfort is the foundation upon which successful outdoor photography is built. When you're at ease in your clothing, you're better able to focus on your surroundings, composition, and the shot you want to capture. Ill-fitting, uncomfortable clothing can distract you from your creative process and limit your ability to connect with your environment. If you’re not comfortable, it can cut your time short and also distract you from your task at hand.

For instance, wearing appropriate footwear such as hiking boots or sturdy sneakers provides the comfort and support necessary to cross uneven terrain and explore diverse landscapes with confidence. You wouldn’t go for a hike in slippers, would you? But I bet you’ve seen instances of people hiking in “fashionable” shoes and wondered what the...?

Similarly, choosing moisture-wicking and breathable fabrics helps regulate body temperature and prevents discomfort from sweat and moisture buildup, particularly during long shoots. This can become a game changer when you stop, as that moisture won’t cling to your body and effectively act as a fridge around you.

Additionally, there’s a reason for the right clothing for each type of sport: football players wear not only team kits but also essential kits to allow them to perform at their best! Usain Bolt wouldn’t rock up to the start line wearing ice hockey gear, nor would Tiger Woods tee off in puffy winter jackets.

Changing Conditions

Outdoor photography often exposes us to rapidly changing weather conditions. The ability to adapt to these fluctuations is crucial for capturing unique and diverse shots. Wearing layers is an effective strategy to combat unpredictable weather. Begin with a moisture-wicking base layer to manage sweat, as mentioned above, followed by insulating layers like fleece or down for warmth, and finally, a waterproof and windproof outer layer to shield against rain and harsh winds. Seasoned photographers may already know this, as will hikers, but it’s as important today as it was way back when, so ensure you don’t have to learn the hard way like many others have.

Furthermore, accessories like hats, gloves, and scarves not only protect from the elements but also offer additional opportunities for creativity, as you may have to wait for long periods for the right light or moment, so it’s better to have them than be beaten back by the elements! On the subject of gloves, look to get waterproof gloves and even photography-dedicated gloves with either detachable index finger and thumbs or touchscreen friendly; it will mean you can operate your camera settings without having to remove your glove each time.

Blending in With the Environment

For wildlife and nature photography, being inconspicuous is often key to capturing authentic, unposed moments. Animals are more likely to behave naturally if they don't perceive you as a threat. This is where clothing choice comes into play. Opting for earth-toned and neutral colors helps you blend seamlessly into the environment. Earthy greens, browns, and grays mimic the hues of nature and reduce the chances of startling wildlife. You will see many wildlife photographers dressed more like combat soldiers when it comes to bagging that banger shot, dressed head to toe in camo gear so they have the best chance of blending in.

Avoid wearing bright colors or bold patterns, as they can disrupt the harmony of your surroundings and draw attention to yourself, potentially altering the behavior of the subjects you're trying to capture.

I have seen on many occasions people wearing high-vis jackets and walking right across a field when trying to photograph our Native Red Deer here in Ireland, and not only are they ruining it for themselves, but they are also ruining it for others who have been sat or hidden patiently for hours for the right moment! Don’t be that person, please.

In certain parts of the world, it is customary to wear bright orange during hunting season to ensure other hunters see you and don’t confuse you with their prey.

It is also worth considering the environmental impact clothing can have, so choose brands that support recycling where possible.

Safety First

While aesthetics and comfort are important, safety should always be a priority during outdoor photography expeditions. Depending on the location and terrain, appropriate clothing can mean the difference between a safe adventure and a risky endeavor.

When venturing into remote areas or rugged landscapes, consider wearing clothing that offers protection against sun exposure, insects, thorny plants, and rough terrain. Long-sleeved shirts, pants, and wide-brimmed hats shield your skin from the sun's harmful rays, while lightweight, breathable fabrics prevent overheating. If you are going to be found, for example, then bright colors will help rescuers spot you should you need help!

I would also highly recommend wearing boots with exceptional grip, as just like it’s important to have steady feet for your tripod, it’s more important for your own feet to stay firm and planted!

A tip that comes from military personnel is always mind your feet; if they get wet, then that’s where trouble can start, so having waterproofing is vital but also pack a spare pair of socks in your bag, just in case you need them!

Carrying Essential Gear

The right clothing not only enhances your photography experience but can also help you comfortably carry essential gear. Many outdoor photographers require a variety of equipment, from cameras and lenses to tripods and accessories. Having the right clothing with ample pockets, loops, and straps allows you to distribute the weight of your gear effectively and have everything you need readily accessible.

Photography-specific vests, jackets, and pants often come with specialized pockets for lenses, memory cards, and other small items. The same is true with hiking clothing, so ensure you have ample pockets at your disposal. This convenience eliminates the need for carrying a separate camera bag and ensures that you're always prepared to capture those fleeting moments. A top tip is to also create your workflow when it comes to pockets! Have a cleaning cloth in the same pocket so you’re not searching for it each time! Have a battery in another dedicated pocket so when needed, it’s simple to swap out. It also helps when packing up as a quick check of these pockets ensures you’ve left nothing behind.

Maintaining Focus and Concentration

The discomfort caused by inappropriate clothing can lead to fatigue and a decreased ability to focus on the task at hand. Extended periods of discomfort can result in physical strain and mental exhaustion, which can impact the quality of your work. When your clothing allows you to move freely and comfortably, you can stay engaged and alert, ready to seize the perfect shot. If you’ve ever been caught out in a rain shower while wearing denim jeans, you will know just how hard it is to move wearing them; they might as well be a pair of leather pants from that infamous episode of "Friends" when it’s time to take them off too!

Preserving Gear in Challenging Environments

Outdoor photography often involves exposure to rugged and potentially damaging environments. Dust, sand, moisture, and other elements can wreak havoc on your equipment if not properly protected. Choosing clothing that provides coverage and shields your gear from these elements is essential for the longevity of your equipment.

Invest in clothing with secure closures and adjustable features to prevent particles from entering pockets or crevices. It also stops items from falling out and being lost.

Additionally, consider packing microfiber cloths or lens cleaning kits to maintain the integrity of your camera equipment throughout your journey, and keep them in dedicated pockets for quick deployment.

Reflecting Your Identity

While functionality is paramount, your clothing also reflects your identity as a photographer. Opting for attire that aligns with your style can enhance your confidence and help you establish a rapport with your subjects. This is especially relevant in portrait photography where your interaction with people can impact the overall mood of the shot. People not only look at the camera a photographer is shooting with, but they also look at how they look. I don’t recall seeing any professional photographer or potentially non-professional photographer turn up at a shoot wearing running Lycra or even cycling clothing! Dress for the occasion as it can show your personality and style and set a certain tone!

Personally, I wear bright colored jackets when it comes to my shoots, the reasons for this are it helps me stand out should I get into any difficulty, it’s easy for my friends to spot when we are on a shoot together, it helps my YouTube videos have more punch as such, and it also works well if I want to take a power pose shot of me in the landscape to add scale.

With that being said, I also have camo gear for my wildlife shoots as I certainly don’t want to be “that guy” who ruins it for others and, of course, myself!


Outdoor photography, where it’s not only natural landscapes but also wildlife and unpredictable conditions, the significance of appropriate clothing cannot be overstated.

From ensuring comfort and safety to enhancing creativity and technical prowess, the right attire becomes a critical tool in any photographer's kit. As I mentioned above, you wouldn’t see top-level athletes go into battle wearing jeans and a T-shirt, and the same should be for us to help us enjoy and last longer in the potentially cruel outdoors!

As you plan your next outdoor photography adventure, take the time to select clothing that aligns with the environment, the weather, and your style. Doing so gives you the best opportunities to capture the breathtaking beauty of the world around you instead of being wet, cold, or uncomfortable.

Do you have any further tips to add, have you a piece of clothing that you never leave home without, or have you any stories about how having the wrong clothing hindered your shoots?

Let’s continue the conversation in the comments below!

Darren Spoonley's picture

Darren J. Spoonley, is an Ireland-based outdoor photographer, Podcaster, Videographer & Educator with a passion for capturing the beauty of our world.

Log in or register to post comments