The selection of proper clothing for your portrait is a critical factor in the preparation for a successful portrait. If the clothing is noticeable or overbearing in a portrait, it could easily become a distraction. Clothing that does not attract attention to itself is the ultimate goal. It could be the difference between a very successful portrait and just another picture. You may be asked to change your clothing selection before I take your portraits if you do not follow these basic guidelines.
Dark clothing tends to slenderize. Darker clothing helps to blend the bodies with the background, so that the faces are the most important part of the photograph. Dark colors definitely tend to slenderize the subject.
Tone down bright colors. Bright colors attract attention away from the face and may be reflective. Avoid wearing red, bright pink, bright green etc. When choosing lighter colors, stick to pastels, but avoid pink tones. Pale yellow and pale blue work well, especially with jeans or khaki pants. These colors work great in nature for example, if you have a sunset photography session booked in.
Light clothing can look beautifully fresh. If you are worried about not appearing slender then it is safer to avoid white. White can look beautifully simple and fresh. White shirts and/or blouses under a dark jacket are perfect.
Prints and patterns are a definite NO. This includes logos. Avoid prints of any kind and patterns. No matter how small the print or the pattern, it will become a distraction. In the case of digital portraits, in particular, small patterns in clothing (even a small herring-bone or checkered pattern) can cause terrible distortions to appear in the portrait that are not originally there.
Avoid short sleeve clothing and short pants. Long sleeved clothing is a MUST! For casual portraits it is equally important to wear long pants instead of shorts. When arms and legs are exposed to the camera there will be more flesh in the photograph in those areas than on the face, itself. This is a major distraction.
Don’t over accessories! Overbearing or heavily noticeable accessories can be a major distraction. Simple and minimal works best.
Glasses. Eye glasses may or may not be worn. Non-reflective lenses, of course, are a big help. Better yet, sometimes it’s possible to obtain a matching set of frames without any lenses. This is particularly helpful, if your lenses sometimes distort the outline of your face.
Tip. Lay out all the clothing onto a bed. Shoes, socks, stockings – everything should be included…shoes, too! Then, take a careful look at the collection. If your eye goes to any one item in particular, you can be certain that the same thing will happen in a photograph. That item should be changed. Clothing should not be too tight or too loose.
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