Say Goodbye to Khaki: Clothing Ideas for Women (Nature) Photographers


A few fun facts for our Light Stalking female members. 30% of Light Stalking's readers are women and we are very, very active across our site, including the forums. We represent all the typical age groups with a lot of activity coming from the 25-34 and over 55 age groups. We spend money on photography equipment, gear, travel and clothing and have a lot of fun along the way.

Crazy Photographer
Photo by Dmitry Terekhov

When I did a search on famous photographers, an article from Digital Camera World surfaced. While all of the photographers earned their rightful spot, women, interestingly, represented 6 out of the 55 highlighted. Holding the #3 spot was Eve Arnold and the #2 spot was Diane Arbus.

Today, we appreciate all of the photography pioneers before us that introduced concepts, techniques and pure inspiration that motivated us to pick up our cameras. With today's social media, we also have the tremendous opportunity to see with a few keystrokes the wonderful works of many past and present photographers of all genres and experience levels.

As a photographer whose passion is nature, I am out in the field every chance I get. At photography hot spots, I don't see as many women as men, but I do see women. And yes, they have big lenses, tripods, monopods and all of the normal gear one would expect for a nature photographer.

The photographers.
Photo by Richard Taylor

And while nature photographers are not out there to make a fashion statement with our clothing and gear, we don't have to settle for khaki, light khaki and dark khaki with a few black accessories thrown in. Nature is about mother nature's color and creativity, I don't think she expects those capturing that beauty to blend in with the dirt. I'm aware that some folks wear clothes to blend in as to not scare the wildlife. This is personal preference but since hummingbirds and orioles are attracted to red, a little color can't hurt.

Before I dove into photography, my lifestyle was and continues to be very active outdoors. As a result, I've found outdoor attire that works great for nature photographers.

We need durability, comfort, pockets, dirt resistant, water repellant, water resistant and a few more requirements many of you could add. With all of those requirements, what's wrong with adding color, a bit of femininity and fun to list? We can have it all….let's look at some of these outdoor active clothing retailers and some of their pieces that may work for you in the field.

Zebra "Discussion"
Photo by Anita Ritenour


Let's start with our feet. If they are cold, wet, our time in the field may be cut short. A hardy choice, Hunter Boots deliver dry feet whether in a shallow stream or at the water's edge on the beach. They are completely rubber with no seams. The flexibility to line them with a comfy fleece boot sock, a shearling insole or a plain sock gives year round versatility. They come in a rainbow of colors from the basic neutrals to the vibrant brights. Hose them down and toss them over jeans when you want to hit your local food haunt. Just remember – tuck your pants in the boot when in water, leave your pants out over the boot when in sand. Learned the hard way.

Socks – Smartwool. They are smart, they are warm, they are cool and they don't itch. A bit more pricey than regular socks but they wear like iron. If you have dogs that like to chew wool, keep them out of harms way. From running to hiking, casual wear to liners, they come in multiple thickness options and colors designed for just about anyone who's selective about what goes on their feet. They will last a long time.

Some of these can be found at local retailers. For those that like to shop online there's always Zappos.


Since we are bending, hiking and kneeling in earthy and wet conditions, running pants can handle wear and tear, they wick moisture well and are comfortable. Brooks' Thermal Pant provides a work-horse black bottom that's warm on chilly days and not bulky.

Athleta while known for their yoga and workout attire, is a current go to for cold and cool weather bottoms. For street photography, light hiking and general travel, their Boyfriend Bettona's fabric is soft, not frumpy, with a fit that is flattering for all body types (their are multiple Bettona styles, the Boyfriend is suggested). With pockets on the legs and drawstrings at the ankles, they can work with flip flops, flats and boots. The only thing that keeps me from recommending them for all-purpose hiking in the woods photography is that the fabric is not water-anything and stickers and burrs get caught in the fabric. Multiple color choices ladies in addition to black and khaki.

They also have their long-standing dipper fabric. Durable, tough fabric that washes and wears comfortable, they make pants, capris and shorts using this material. My dipper pants (the regular version, not the low rise) and long shorts have been in goose poo, briny water, stickers and rough terrain and are still going strong. For very cold conditions, their Snow Trek Dipper pant is toasty warm and just as durable.

the scarlet flowers of passion seem to grow in the same meadow as the poppies of oblivion
Photo by Jenny Downing


Boden is a UK based online retailer of women's, men and children's clothing. Their Hampton's Tee, the Velvet-trimmed hoodies and the Crinkle Jersey shirt (even comes in it's own pouch) are go anywhere, comfortable tops that are not obvious selections when you think of photography clothing.


Boden's Rainy Day Mac has pockets, a hoodie and available in many colors. This diehard has withstood laying in the damp forest while photographing trillium and other wildflowers.

If black is your preference, Manfrotto has a Pro Field Jacket and a Pro Air Jack that both look quite interesting and very specific to photography.

Photo by Lisa Plymell

Other outdoor, active lifestyle jackets can be found at: Title Nine, Patagonia and The North Face. Weatherproof, waterproof, warm or lightweight, these are examples of a few retailers with broad selections in styles and colors.

We all have our favorites in all of the categories above. If you have one you feel strongly about, post it in the comments and share with our fellow nature photographers. A good find is worth sharing!

About Author

Sheen Watkins is a conservationist, wildlife photographer, instructor, author and photography writer. You can follow her photography on Facebook, Instagram and her website.

The magic of khaki must never be confused with its aesthetic. The notion that wildlife photography needs special clothing because it matters to the animals is silly. They couldn’t care less whether you’re in khaki or neon pink. The “special clothes” matter only as part of the ritual that capturing images in the wild has become. It gets us more deeply into the moment and, as such, is more important than you may think. .

Hi Kallie – thanks for commenting. You are so right…animals don’t care about our color of clothing. And your point of ‘getting in to the moment’ rituals are individual is spot on. My morning photography ritual starts with a coffee, chobani yogurt. Then it’s grabbing a favorite hoodie with pockets along with my camera day pack – the latter is my ‘get in to the moment’ gear.

Thanks for the tips! I’m always looking to be more comfortable and a little function plus fashion helps with feeling more put together, so to speak. I agree with the comment about animals mostly not caring for color, but I have found that when I’m at the farm (agricultural) taking photographs the bees go crazy when I’m in black. They mistake me for a predator. And that’s distracting. It has even happened taking downtown architectural shots at our library (which keeps bees) and my friend can attest to their love of dive-bombing me. Just thought I’d share.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *