The selection of proper clothing for your portrait is a critical factor in the preparation for a successful portrait.
If the clothing is noticeable 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. We can not stress enough how important it is for you to observe the following criteria.
I get asked this question a lot and so here are some suggestions regarding clothing and what to bring to the photo shoot. First I will start with some general suggestions and then go into a little more detail specific to the type of shoot you are considering:
What to avoid
Avoid bright yellows, reds and oranges (they battle the subjects face for attention) and the camera will readily pick up the reflected light and render skin tone with a color cast.
Avoid clothing containing logos, slogans, or other distractions.
Bold stripes, large designs and polka dots stand out and tend to draw attention from the portrait's subject.
What to wear!
Solid long or short sleeves
Also consider wearing a top that has an interesting collar and/or sleeves.
A top that has interesting textures (e.g. a sweater) can also add depth and richness to an image. If you will have more than one change of clothing for your session then consider bringing a variety of necklines, textures, colors, and undergarments to achieve a wide variety of looks.
Stick to solids and subtle patterns.
Simple and elegant is the advice when selecting jewellery for a portrait. The same applies for any other accessories that you wish to have included in your portrait.
What to bring?
A comb or brush and hair-spray if you use it.
A light face powder to reduce any shine on your face that may build up during your shoot.
For gents (or women who prefer not to wear much or any makeup), bring a lip balm. Dry lips don't show well in photos and so a non-shiny, non-waxy, none colored lip balm is essential. Avoid chap sticks, as they tend to leave a white residue.
If you normally wear makeup, bring it with you but avoid high gloss lipsticks or very shiny lip gloss. Often they look too unnatural and reflect too much light in photos.
A towel to damp your face depending on humidity and South .
Pregnancy / Maternity
There are lots of clothing options for a maternity portrait each can be used with different lighting and backdrop styles:
White blouse, with cuffs with a few buttons fastened and your bump on show, this works really well with a white backdrop.
Cropped top and casual trousers/tracksuit bottoms in a dark color; this can be effective with either a white or . When using the black background moody lighting is used to add shadows and depth to your portrait.
Wearing some pretty lingerie. You can go for the bright and happy look, you looking beautiful and confident against a white background.
Nude, posed beautifully to show just what you want to show; relaxed, warm and comfortable.
Wrapped in a sheet, just below your bump. (White or black - to match the background).
Since your bump will be exposed, it is important that, for a couple of hours before the shoot, you don't wear any tightly fitting clothes across it (we don't want any marks left by waist bands etc), likewise for any other areas that are likely to be exposed.
Children, toddlers and babies
Little ones photograph best in simple clothing. White and pastels are classic choices.
Newborns and babies have gorgeous skin, and nothing shows off that natural, innocent soul like nakedness (or just a nappy). An added bonus for slightly older babies, is that eyes tend to stand out more when they are not overpowered by clothing.
A popular look for baby and children portraits is all white. This gives a clean and natural look to the images, and is a great way to create a classic portrait that captures the purity of childhood.
Don't be afraid to put your baby or child in bold colors or prints. Although not generally recommend for an adult (or newborns), vivid colors on young children will result in a playful, lively portrait, especially primary colors like red, blue, and green.
If your child wears his Superman cape everyday, maybe you should let him wear it in a few pictures.
Why not? You want pictures that capture that your little man really is, right? Besides, he may be much more willing to take other non-cape pictures afterwards. Props can be great addition, too, so consider bringing your child's favorite book, stuffed animal or toy.
Teens have their OWN sense of style – I love to let them express it however they wish!
Group Photos / Family Portraits
Coordinate outfits. Everybody in the portrait should wear items that complement each other in style and color. It is not necessary for all clothes to match, but they must make sense together. Choosing clothes with same or similar colors unifies the picture and keeps the focus on the people in the picture.
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 colors focuses the attention of the portrait to the faces and individuals that make up the portrait. Dissimilar colors 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 or panty lines. 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).
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.
Proper Necklines for a Portrait
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.
Hair Style and Makeup
Hair styles should be SIMPLE and MUST be off the face. Hair falling down onto the sides of the face (currently very much in style) 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. Eye makeup should be blended – no sharp demarcation lines between colors. AVOID WHITE above or below the eyes. It does not photograph well at all. Too much color above and below the eyes attracts attention to itself. It actually takes attention AWAY from the eyes, rather than attracting the viewer to the eyes. Foundation makeup should be blended at the jawline, so that there is no demarcation between the face and the neck.
Your portraits are meant to be enjoyed for generations to come.
You will feel very rewarded when you view your photographs. All of your efforts will be worthwhile.