10 Steps to Selecting the Clothing For Your Next Portrait Session * What To Wear Guide 2013
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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.
1- The first step is to choose a color scheme. Think about the colors of the season or the location of the photo shoot.
2-Next, choose a formal or casual style of clothing – mixing styles does not work well (i.e. dad in a suit and son in a t-shirt and jeans).
Let the location of the photo shoot help determine the style of clothing. Clothing should not be too tight or too loose.
3-Remember to avoid sharp contrasts in clothing and matchy-matchy clothing – i.e. everyone in black t shirts and khaki pants. Having
everyone in the same style black shirts and khaki pants is slightly boring and it also causes the eye to go to the bodies and not the
faces. Adding in a small amount of texture and small pattern can break up the monotony and create some interest.
4-The easiest way to start is to select a foundation piece. Choose the other outfits based off of your foundation piece. That way, the
look is coherent and looks well put together.
The Squint Trick: There’s one trick to use to make sure nothing you have selected for anyone to wear is going to overpower anyone
else is to lay it all out on the bed and then squint. You want the colors to blend and complement one another without being
overpowering. If anything sticks out while squinting you want to get rid of it – find something else.
5-Avoid overexposure of skin. Remember that the most important feature of a family photo is everyone’s lovely face! Your eye is
automatically attracted to flesh so avoid low cut clothing and sleeveless tops. 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 can be a major distraction. You want to keep people’s eyes
on the faces and off those other areas! Exposed flesh makes you look bigger so keep that in mind too! A scarf loosely tied around the
neck also helps to frame a face beautifully when a collarless blouse or sweater is worn. Neckties should definitely be toned-down in color
and with a minimum of pattern.
Large Group Tips – another consideration in clothing selection is the number of people in your photo. For a family photo of 5 or 6, you
can add in some pattern without it being too distracting. If the family photo was a large group of people – more than 8 or so, numerous
people in prints or patterns could be extremely distracting. For a larger group go with variations on a theme – everyone in the same
color scheme but just vary the shade/tone of the color and the style of the clothing. Don’t put everyone in white polo shirts and jeans –
instead have some people in white polos, white button downs, and a frilly white blouse with varying shades of denims. Even adding in a
few white bottoms in a skirt etc. with a white or blue top will create cohesiveness without distraction for a large group.
6-Don’t forget your shoes. They will show in some of the photos and you want to make sure they coordinate with your outfits. But also
remember to keep in mind your location! For most locations, a great deal of walking is involved so for your session, think of this equation:
fashion + comfort = a great session! 🙂
7-Avoid any type of writing, logo etc. on a shirt. The first thing your eyes will see is the word GAP running across little Jimmy’s chest!
8-Eyeglasses may or may not be worn. Non-reflective lenses, of course, are a big help. Sometimes it is 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.
9-Hairstyles should be SIMPLE and MUST be off the face. Hair falling down onto the sides of the face can 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 jaw line, so that there is no
demarcation between the face and the neck.
10-Finally, 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.
Your portraits will be viewed by generations to come. You will feel much rewarded when you view your photographs. All of your efforts
will be worthwhile! 🙂
*This post is a little long and has A LOT of information that can be hard to visualize. But if you sign up to receive the monthly Chase Carter Imaging newsletter in your inbox, you can have the What To Wear guide with pictures to help you plan for your next session! Use this link to sign up and it will be delivered to you right away!
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