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.
Dark Clothing Tends to Slenderize
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 slenderize the subject. Light colors seem to add weight to the bodies.
The color of the clothing should always be toned down. Bright colors attract attention away from the face. Colors MUST be dark and not bright. This is ESSENTIAL! When choosing lighter colors, stick to pastels, but avoid pink tones. Pale yellow and pale blue work well, especially with jeans or kaki pants.
Prints and any kind of pattern (no matter how small) 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.
Avoid Short Sleeve Clothing and Short Pants
I would say avoid sleeveless shirts for sure and wear a longer sleeve for portraits. For casual portraits it is equally important to wear long pants instead of shorts. What we are going for is showing you and your families beautiful faces, extra skin in the photo can change that dynamic. 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.
White shirts and/or blouses under a dark jacket are perfect. 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.
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. That item may need to be changed.
Clothing should not be too tight or too loose. It is often a good idea for clothing below the waistline to be darker than the clothing above. Otherwise, even light jeans worn below a darker top could easily attract attention to the lower part of the body and away from the face.
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 Hair falling down onto the sides of the face (currently very much in style) 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 jawline, so that there is no demarcation between the face and the neck.
Group (Family) Shoots
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 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). Everyone should have color-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.
Our goal is to show off that adorable baby bump, I prefer to do maternity on a solid black or white backdrop. Black, from head to toe is usually good (a flowing white outfit can also look great). A simple black or white (or both!) button down top in which the bottom area can be unbuttoned easily to expose your belly works best. Please encourage the father (and your children if you have others) to come along if you wish (they should also dress in solid black or white). We will take several poses with your hands, so be sure to remove any jewelry that you do not want in the pictures (some women want to have their wedding ring in the picture, others do not. Most prefer to remove their wrist watch). If you know you are having a boy or a girl and/or know what your baby will be named please let me know that info as well. Finally, be assured that I will not ask you to leave your comfort zone. I don’t want to ask you to do anything that you are uncomfortable with. Please be up-front in regards to what you would like, and are willing to do. I promise that we will do very graceful and tasteful posing for your pictures.
Newborns and Babies
95% of the time, photographs of newborns and babies look best in their natural element i.e…their birthday suits! If you want them to be photographed with clothes, solid colors usually work best. Of course if you have that amazing outfit that you would love a photograph of, include it! Bare Feet are a must! Feel free to bring any kind of prop that you want included.
For newborn shoots (under 1 month old; ideally less than 2 weeks old) it is best to set aside a total of 3 hours so that we have plenty of time for feeding, changing, and so that we have the best chance of capturing your baby asleep and awake. I prefer parents to dress in solid black from head to toe so that I can get the creative shots you are looking for!
Toddlers and Kids
I am a very casual person and I prefer to photograph children that way as well. Typically, my style of photography does not work well for traditional clothing or traditional portraits. Try to leave the “Sunday Best” at home. So . . . some suggestions – 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. Feel free to bring any other prop or comfort item that you want to include.
Teens have their OWN sense of style – I love to let them express it however they wish!
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.
Makeup tips for women: how to look great in a photo
- Wear makeup! Even if you normally do not, just try and do a little foundation or powder and mascara and lip gloss.
- Make sure your foundation is evenly blended from the top of the forehead all the way down to the top of the chest.
- Choose a beautiful, polished eye, not a smokey, dark eye.
- Wear a lot of defined mascara or false eyelashes carefully applied to look real.
- Curl your eyelashes before apply falsies or mascara.
- Lip color should be complimentary or nude. Avoid red and orange.
- Avoid spray tans; they never look natural and they tend to mark your clothes.