Portraiture: What To Wear

A question that invariably comes up at pre-shoot consultations is that of what to wear.

My advice would be to avoid strongly patterned or distracting clothing. Bright colours and short sleeves are also best left in the wardrobe. Dark tops with light bottoms are also discouraged as the eye is initially attracted to the lighter parts of a photo and we don’t really want the focus to be on the lower body.

Families or other groups might want to think about co-ordinated colours. Choosing clothes with same or similar colours unifies a picture and keeps the focus on the people in the picture. As an example, a group could all wear a simple white tops and jeans, although some people might regard this as clich├ęd, whilst other would describe it as “classic”. Another suggestion would be for everyone to wear black and white. Pastel colours also work well.

If you’re being photographed as an individual, think about what your clothes say about you. Classic styles are often recommended as they don’t date, so if the photograph is going to be around for a while, don’t wear something that will go out of fashion over time. Alternatively, if you want to express yourself du jour, or of the moment, go ahead and flaunt your personality. Also think about accessories – belts, hats, jewellery, glasses etc. You might also consider props – a favourite book, toy or other object – something that speaks about who or what you are.

Other items to avoid: bulky sweaters, turtlenecks, thick scarves. If you’re having your hair cut for a photo session, do it about a week before, allowing the cut to settle in.