Skip to main content

What to Wear and What Not to Wear in Your Portraits

For years I've been meaning to create some sort of material that can explain to my clients what they should consider when planning their attire for their portrait session.  I always very strongly encourage my clients to follow my recommendations regarding clothing however my advice is often disregarded.  So I thought if I showed some specific portrait examples it may become more obvious just how important it is to consider your clothing choices wisely. 

When choosing clothes for a portrait session it is almost always advisable to wear plain simple clothing and for all members of the group to co-ordinate with each other.  By this I mean, solid colour tops. So nothing with bold, noticable patterns such as stripes, polka dots or flowers.  And no large logos.  Also try, as much as possible, to wear the same colour or very similar colours (ie shades of pale blue).  Patterns are distracting and unmatching colours will stand out and both will detract from the faces in a portrait.  Large logos can also date the portrait making it less appealing over time.  Of course there may be a time when such clothing is acceptable, perhaps in a teenagers fashion type shoot. But they are rarely appropriate for a special family photo you want on display for many years. And the last thing we want to produce is something you will look back at in years saying, 'what was I thinking'.  So here are some examples to illustrate what I mean. 

For the image below I used a group of friends and instructed them all to wear white tops and jeans.  This is a look that I find very attractive and works incredibly well with a white or light background.  Having everyone co-ordinated in such a way really makes the portrait look planned and well thought out and not just something thrown together. 

 
 
For the image above I asked the girls to change their tops to include a variety of tones and patterns.  Notice how the patterns become distracting and can often take your attention away from the girl's faces.  The portrait no longer looks intentional and my eyes continually travel around the image rather than resting on the main point of the image, which in a portrait should usually be their faces.

This issue becomes even stronger with a dark background as the large patches of brightness among all the darkness stand out like a sore thumb.  Its impossible not to see these highlights as anything other than distractions.  Even the bare arms of the girls are too pale in comparison to the rest of the image which again takes away from the effectiveness of the portrait.  The image directly below is far more appealling than the one that follows. 

 

I've included a second example with the dark background to emphasise the importance of clothing appropriate to the type of portrait we wish to create.  The patterned top and bare arm are much too distracting.  The same image made with black tops that have long sleeves is much more attractive and creates a portrait that shows it was intentional and not merely a snap taken without planning or effort.

 
 
Now the following image includes tops of all sorts of colours however it was still clearly well thought out and again makes the portrait appear intentional.  Incidentally, this was the idea of the birthday girl which I was thrilled to see.  This is a very effective use of clothing which made for a pleasing and interesting group portrait. Whereas the image that follows does not look well planned.  Those in white look washed out and the patterns throughout are distracting.



Finally I've included a couple of portraits which show good clothing choices.  You can imagine how ineffective the dark image would be had bare arms or patterned clothing been included.  And same goes for the light image with respect to patterns. 

 

I hope this has illustrated just how important appropriate clothing choices are.  If you are going to the expense of investing in portraits please choose your clothes wisely to ensure you have the best possible, timeless portraits you'll be proud to display for many years to come.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Family Photos with Flair - Vanity Fair Style Family Portraits

This style of portrait continues to be the eye catching success I had always hoped it would be. Once again I created a beautiful family portrait that I am really proud of and I know this family loves too. Over the years I have developed this style through influences such as Vanity Fair and the many photographers I follow, though I hope that there is something in here that is entirely my own. Having my work easily identified as my own was a goal of mine from the start. Getting to the point where people will want not just a portrait but a Christina Lauder portrait is where I've always wanted to be and I'm hoping I'm on way. These portraits were created for the family of two professional photographers who wanted some portraits of their own. Family portraits isn't really something one can do of oneself, at least not easily. So they needed the services of another and I was honoured to be chosen for the job. They chose me not just for my style but also for my ab

Its a Dog's Life

When life gets tough I always look at dogs or my cats and think how lucky they are. I know not all are treated well but those lucky enough to be in a good home, like the ones who come into my studio, have a really great life. They look so happy and its a wonderful thing to see.  I honestly love photographing dogs. They are a joy to work with and its almost impossible to produce a bad portrait of a dog which does of course make my life a little easier. I am someone who really needs to love the work I create. I can't help but love the portraits I've created of all the dogs I've photographed over the years. And this shoot was certainly no exception. I found it a real pleasure using a lighter background this time too. I do often gravitate towards darker looks but seeing as this dog had a light coloured coat I thought I'd produce lighter images. This gave me the chance to use a canvas I painted a couple of years ago but never really used and I absolutely love it

Never Work With Children or Animals

Or so the saying goes. But I have to say that working with dogs has been so lovely. They have been almost entirely a dream to work with. I say almost entirely because we have had a few moments where a dog has needed to settle. And one moment where the dog had settled but one of my cats decided to have a look through the glass door which, as you can imagine, rather quickly unsettled the dog. Still, that didn't stop us from creating incredible work. In fact it was during that shoot with the cat instance when I created two of my favourite pieces, shown below. (It was while sitting on the couch here when he noticed the cat peering through the curtain) I don't know if I've just been lucky or all dogs are just easy to work with. I photographed a french bull dog puppy and I thought that would be tough as he hadn't had time to be properly trained yet. But he did everything we wanted in no time at all. And this included the props we used here (below), which to me

To Blog or Not to Blog? That is the Question.

Each year I have the goal of blogging, on average, once a week. That would give me 52 posts over the course of one year. Any guesses as to how close I managed to get???? 45, thats how many and that was in a good year. More often than not I don't even come close, like this year for example. Once you fall out of the habit its hard to get back in. So here I am now, trying to get back in but I find myself wondering should I bother?. Is this getting me anywhere? Is anyone even reading my posts? Should I carry on or drop this and alleviate one unnecessary stress in my life? Opinions welcome. Of course a lack of opinions will be quite telling also. Years ago, when blogging first came about, it was deemed as a way of drumming up business. Regular blog posts keeps our content current and likely to come up in search engines therefore we are more likely to appear in a potential clients search for our services. Over time this actually became a really enjoyable part of my role as a se

School Photos Are Not As Easy as You'd Think

Every year I do a load of school portraits and I rarely get the chance to share them as I never share anything without permission. Gaining permission is just that bit more difficult when you don't meet face to face with many parents. So I just don't bother. But this year I thought I'd give it a go and get some permissions as they are just too lovely not to share. (You know you got it right when you show Mum and she gets tears in her eyes - this family has been coming to me for years now and I love watching them grow)  School portraits give me a chance to work very differently than usual. In some ways its not how I like to work at all but in others its a chance for a little freedom. You see for me, I like to be a perfectionist with my work. And being such can be draining. This usually means creating just a few really great portraits for my studio clients and having all the time in the world in which to do so. With school portraits on the other hand, there is only so