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.
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 slenderise the subject.
Bright colours 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 kaki trousers. These colours work great in nature for example, if you have a sunset photography session booked in.
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.
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.
Long sleeved clothing is a MUST! For casual portraits it is equally important to wear long trousers 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 accessorise! Overbearing or heavily noticeable accessories can be a major distraction. Simple and minimal works best.
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.
Hair styles should be SIMPLE and MUST be off the face. Hair falling down onto the sides of the face create distracting shadows. Bangs that come down too low onto the face will keep light from getting into the subject’s eyes – the very most important part of the face. It is always a great idea to have your make up and hair professionally applied for your photography session. It will make a huge difference in how you look and feel.
The most flattering neckline for anyone is something that comes up close to the neck. A wide-open neckline tends to thicken the neck in a photograph. On the other hand, a neckline that comes up to the base of the neck – a turtleneck or a v-neck top is the most flattering. It tends to slim down the person and frames the face beautifully.
Keep your clothing simple and coordinating. It must be carefully selected to blend the bodies together. Avoid loud or busy patterns and large logos. Solid colors are best. First, decide whether the basic tone of the clothing will be warm-toned (browns, etc.) or cool-toned (blues/grays/blacks, etc.) Then, make sure to follow all of the above instructions. Keeping a group in similar colours focuses the attention of the portrait to the faces and individuals that make up the portrait. Dissimilar colours in groups tend to be more distracting. White tops with khakis or jeans can look very nice and casual, but if anyone in your family is super pale, white can make pale skin look paler. Jeans are the timeless choice and they’re great for fun, casual pictures because they are flattering and don’t show wrinkles. Lighter shirts on top give the pictures a more casual and bright look. Pastels are also usually appealing because they enhance natural skin tones. Black or other dark shirts on top give the portraits a more serious and thoughtful feel (not to mention that black is slimming). Everyone should have colour-coordinated outfits (Not a uniform necessarily, but there should be a theme). For the children, choose outfits that fit well without a lot of “growing room”. Jeans / khaki’s and white or black tops are always very nice for a family portrait.
Solid colors work best. Bright and fun and funky bring out a whimsical side while Khaki’s, blue jeans, and white shirts are for more serious captures. A pretty dress is always beautiful for little girls. Don’t forget hats, sunglasses, boots, blankets, jackets, etc. can be great to show personality and bring out their silly side.
Teens have their OWN sense of style – I love to let them express it however they wish.
Final thoughts. Your portraits are meant to be enjoyed for generations to come. Fad-type clothing should be avoided, unless you are planning to have new portraits made annually. You will feel very rewarded when you view your photographs. All of your efforts will be worthwhile.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me before your portrait session. See you at your shoot!