Prepping your Outfits for Photo Sessions

models featured: thiefves, poisonne, purrblind
based on tutorials from: Lutavia Cosplay, used with permission

Photography is always a collaboration between two artists and as your photographer, I want to help you put your best foot, cosplay, outfit, and self forward. A few months earlier, I saw a Twitter thread by an acquaintance of mine with some great tips on how to elevate store bought cosplays. It's packed full of great ideas and helpful care instructions for your most treasured costumes, but also made me think that those efforts did not have to stop at cosplay. Most of these tips can be applied to any kind of fashion shoots and even lifestyle or portrait sessions.

1. Steam your garments

This is the easiest, and most effective way to get your outfit ready for photos. Steaming your garments is a simple, quick way to remove wrinkles and fold lines from anything you might be wearing during your session. It's convenient because not only is it portable, you don't have to break out the ironing board every time you want to get ready for a session. I use this Conair portable steamer from Walmart, but anything will really do. If you've ever ordered clothing or cosplays online, you're probably familiar with how they're packaged; shrink wrapped and folded into a tiny plastic bag. Obviously, this leaves some unsightly wrinkles and fold lines in your garments. Those fold lines and wrinkles can often make or break a photo.

Garment steaming - eliminates wrinkles in outfits

This garment is shrink-wrapped so tightly, we'd be able to see all the fold creases on it if it were to be photographed as is!

The outfit in this photo is elaborate, and clearly not typical clothing that can be ironed traditonally. A steamer helped remove unwanted wrinkles, especially in the long cape. (Model: @thiefves via instagram)

2. Steam your wigs, too! (And keep them organized)!

If you're cosplaying, or modeling for something that requires a wig, you can also steam wigs, especially those bought at a lower price point. Give your wig some general love with this Fresh Out of the Bag Wig Guide from Arda Wigs. Wigs are packed similar to garments, especially when they're ordered online, and will always require a bit of fixing when they come out of the bag. If you're like me and have lots of wigs around and simply cannot display them all, remove them from their original packaging and place them in a large ziploc bag, then use a permanent marker to label it.

Wigs are a great way to change your hair without the commitment.

Wigs are a great way to change your hair without the commitment. (Model:

Label your wigs to keep them organized

This is a wig for She-Ra the Princess of Power. I knoew this, because I labelled it!


Oftentimes, clothes or costumes will ship with loose buttons. Don't panic! You can sew it back easily with a needle and thread, no machine required. There are plenty of great video tutorials from Youtube, to TikTok. I particularly like this video on the right, as it shows how to sew multiple different types of buttons to fabric with examples that are large enough to see.

If you're not "sew" handy with a needle and thread, E6000 Fabrifuse is the way to go. Michael's will usually stock this, for my fellow Canadian crafters.

4. Elevate your accessories

The easiest way to spruce up a store bought cosplay or outfit, especially if you're buying from overseas is to 1. tailor it to fit your body and 2. elevate some of the accessories. For example, this premade Zelda costume comes with bracers, a belt, and a necklace, however these items are made from flimsy fabric and therefore don't fit as jewelry should, and also definitely don't shine like gold. The good news is, if you're not a crafter, the Dangerous Ladies offer incredible castings of Zelda's accessories along with props and pieces for a wide selection of popular characters. They even make custom pieces.

legend of zelda from miccostumes
zelda accessories from Dangerous Ladies

5. Protect what's important

Perhaps I've saved the most important tip for last -- protect and care for your clothes and accessories. Follow washing and storage instructions on garment tags, and buy a garment bag to keep your most treasured pieces in, most dollar stores carry them! A little care goes a long way, and really shows in photos.

You might now be asking "what's next?" Well, now that you know how to present your best self to your session, the next best thing is to pick the best location. Check out my location guide for inspiration, or check out some of the accessories I have for loan in my client closet.

If you're finished prepping for your session and are ready to book, contact me!

Princess Zelda Portrait Cosplay

Thanks for Reading!

Thanks for Reading!