What to Wear for Your Portrait

Do you ever wonder why fashion photographers get paid so much? Here’s why: It requires considerable skill to get the subjects, clothing and backgrounds matched just right.

And guess what. These same elements determine the outcome of your photo session. As the expert behind the camera I want exceptional images you will enjoy looking at in future. But it won’t happen if you don’t do your part.

Help us—you and me—get it right by rethinking your outfit.

Why is Clothing Important?

You’ll be capturing a moment in time. Are you sure what you show the world aligns with the purpose of the photoshoot? Often we don’t realize how powerful clothing can be:

  • Professional portraits: A woman not wearing sleeves is perceived as less professional than someone who covers her arms at least down to the elbow.
  • Family portraits: When you view your photographs in future you want to notice the smiles, not clashing colors.
  • Relationship portraits: Pick clothing that makes you feel comfortable so nothing detracts attention from the loving looks you want to show.

Do you see how clothing determines the outcome? So let’s get it right.

When you’re the client that mind the tips, you’ll be the client that smiles when you get the final results.

Tips on What to Wear

Type of Clothing

It’s a cliché because it’s true: Be yourself.

What looks great on a model may not suit you. So pick your outfit according to your personal style. As mentioned above, displaying comfort is essential and you won’t feel at ease in clothing you wouldn’t usually pick for yourself.

Your type of clothing will also showcase something of your personality and this is great to bring that X-factor to the image.

Style of Clothing

Have you ever viewed clothing as a way of communicating? Wearing professional clothing for a headshot confirms you’re serious about your profession.

But style also relates to comfort. You don’t want to feel formal while you’re snapping pictures with your kids.

Lastly—for group sessions—make sure everyone wears the same style. You don’t want someone seeming out of place.

What Color Will You Pick?

Let’s be clear: Prints and pictures are out of the question. Firstly they create technical difficulties for the photographer if he or she edits. Secondly, prints tend to draw attention away from faces.

To make sure the pictures grab attention for the right reasons, follow these guidelines:

  • Black and darker shades are slimming
  • In group sessions everyone’s clothing should be planned around a certain color palette
  • Discuss the background with the photographer, since light clothing works best when the background is light too
  • Don’t use neon hues as they never print well and they steal attention away from faces

Handy tip: A photographer is bound to take full length photographs, so co-ordinating all aspects of outfits—from shoes to hats—is essential.

Let’s Talk About Jewelry

The moment extras—décor, jewelry, or backgrounds—are too big or bold, no one will notice your face. And remember, in contrast to fashion photography, these photos are all about you and not about what you’re wearing.

So keep it simple.

A Technical Tip

Here’s what I’m looking for as a photographer: Everything around you—and what you’re wearing—should be of a darker shade than your face and skin. Viewers normally focus on the lightest part of an image. In personal portraits these areas should be faces, not clothing.

Now find clothes that help people notice you, instead of your outfits. Enjoy the shopping!

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