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

The Cuttest Little Creature (a baby Shih Tzu) I Ever Did See

I say creature, rather than dog, puppy or even animal only because as I looked through the images I had created on more than one occasion she looked like more like an animated character in a film than any dog I'd ever met. Weighing in at just over 4lbs she was little more than a ball of fur, adorable in every way.


Once again my work day felt very little like work. I love creating pieces such as these and the bonus of puppy cuddles is simply wonderful. This one above is a particular favourite of mine. The scales are quite accurate so its nice to have a keepsake that includes just how small a new puppy is. This family will always have this as a reminder, not that this little on will grow particularly big.


This image above is quite easy to create because puppies naturally try to climb out, yet they aren't big enough to get themselves out. This results in quite a captive audience giving us some great portraits.


Here again this little girl looks like a ball of fluff. I kept thinki…

8 Unique Portrait Ideas for your Teenager

Teen portraits are becoming a thing. Much like Prom has reached this side of the water, the ever popular teenage portrait industry that has swept across North America is coming to the UK too. And why not? This is an important milestone in our children's lives. I for one want to capture this time in my child's life and I suspect I'm not alone here. They have strong personalities, they have hobbies and interests worth documenting and they might not be living at home for much longer.

In this blog post I am sharing some of the teen portraits I've created in recent years to hopefully inspire families with kids of this age to come in and have some done for themselves. The possibilities with this age group are so vast I can't help get a little excited for each shoot I do.
1. Dance Lots of people are involved in dance or performing arts of some sort and for those involved, creating something that relates to their interests will provide a lasting memory and valuable keepsa…

I am Still Me: A Story about a Transgender Boy

Meet Leo. Leo is 15 and currently going through an epic transformation that has momentarily turned the lives of himself and those around him upside down. A mum who once had the daughter she always longed for is now coping with the realisation that she will be living the rest of her life with a son instead. When your child is born you have certain expectations of the typical life they will lead but most of us know and accept that it won't necessarily end up the way we imagine. Not every person wants to marry, have kids or be involved with the opposite sex. Most of us have come to accept this and can adjust to whatever comes our way relatively easily. But few of us have expected to have to deal with a change in sex. Its not that we've hoped it won't happen, but just that it never occurred to us that it might. This is a new adjustment that we as a society are being presented with today, just like so many others that have come before.


When I first heard that Phoebe was transi…

Family Portraits with Fine Art Flair

I have a love and hate relationship with family portraits. I love the finished piece and creating something that is truly special to the family. I love that in years to come something I made is going to be a cherished and valueable memento for this family. What I struggle with, is getting all members of the group to look their best at exactly the same moment in time. You would be surprised at how difficult this actually is, particularly when it comes to 6 children. But I always get there in the end, whether it is the luck of a moment or with the aid of Photoshop. I ensure that everyone in the portrait is looking their best, even the dog.


Seeing as this family is actually made up now of two families we also did portraits in their respective groups which I chose to do in different style to their main group. I love adding a bit of style for the overall main group and what you see above is something that is proving popular with my clients. I love adding props and giving a sort of Vanity F…

Fuji Announces the New X-T2 and I've Been One of the Lucky Testers!!

I have been one of the few fortunate ones to be selected by Fuji to test Fuji's newest mirrorless camera from the perspective of an SLR user. Today Fuji have announced the release of this camera, the X-T2, (X-T1 being its predecessor). It was such an honour to be selected for this task and I truly enjoyed the experience. I've been hearing such great things about Fuji's cameras over the past couple of years I've wanted to try one myself but when you own a perfectly good camera, in my case the Canon 5D MKIII, its hard to justify trying an entirely new system. As any photographer will confirm, in this industry there is always new kit we want to purchase. So getting to test one out for free was really quite awesome.


Now I am not going to say that I prefer one over the other at this stage. My use of the Fuji is still relatively new. To be perfectly honest they both have very good selling points and I'd struggle to say one is better than the other. But if I were just sta…