The Why on What to Wear

So I thought I might continue my first blog post into a 2nd part with more explanation and tips on what to wear for your portrait sessions. Often we are told what to do, but not given any real reason as to why we should be doing it. Use this article to help you understand the why behind what to wear on your picture day!

Clothing is just as much a part of your portrait as your lighting, posing, and location. The wrong clothing options can totally ruin an otherwise great image. This article will help you chose the best clothing options for your portrait sessions and explain what you should chose to wear!

The goals in helping you select clothing are:

  • to make the you the main subjects, not the clothes
  • to flatter the you and help make you and your family look their best
  • to make the clothing disappear and be a non-issue, non-distracting, not important

Poorly chosen clothing, or having no discussion about it at all, can result in just the opposite of all those things.  NOT what you want to have happen!

  • clothing that stands out so much you hardly even notice the people
  • arms, legs or tummies that look less than flattered and people that are unhappy with the end results
  • clothing that takes so much attention and draws your eye around that it becomes more about the clothes and a fashion photo that it does a portrait of the people in them

So what’s the best thing to wear?

Here are some great suggestions I personally recommend for your portrait session. This will help you avoid the “What were they thinking?” shake your head syndrome that happens with bad clothing photographs!

DO…

  • wear solid colored clothing
  • choose muted tones that are a bit subdued
  • choose similar tones for your top and bottom (both dark or both light)
  • Choose 1-3 colors for your group portrait, ones with similar tones that go nicely together and have everyone work within that color palette. For example: dark green, navy, and burgundy – all dark jewel tones.  OR tan, a lighter olive green, and denims – all lighter, softer tones.
  • choose a top with sleeves at least to the elbow
  • choose long pants for men/ladies or a skirt below the knee for ladies
  • choose dark socks and footwear (unless it’s a barefoot photo on the beach)
  • keep jewelry simple and minimalistic
  • do your hair the way you’d normally do it while wearing these clothes (I’ll explain more later)
  • if getting a haircut or new hairdo, make your appointment at least 2 weeks prior to your portrait session

Here’s a great example of what to do and not do!

What not to wear on a photo session

An unexpected group photo – See how all the clothing distracts from the people?

 

And here’s some examples using the tips stated above!

Good examples of what to wear on your picture day

Now let’s look at WHY you want to do each of the things in the list above. Here’s the list again with the reasoning behind it!

  • wear solid colored clothing  -

So that we see all of your faces and no one person stands out. If you wear stripes or flowers, you will stand out from the rest of your group and you don’t want that.

  • choose muted tones that are a bit subdued

So that you are the subject not your clothes and you don’t stand out from the group. Bright colors project (especially reds, oranges, and yellows), which also makes you look larger.

  • Choose similar tones for your top and bottom (either dark or both lights) so that one doesn’t look bigger than the other.

White top, dark pants will make your top look bigger.  White pants, dark top will make your butt look bigger.

  • Choose 1-3 colors for your group portrait, ones with similar tones that go nicely together and have everyone work within that color palette. For example: dark green, navy, and burgundy – all dark jewel tones.  OR tan, a lighter olive green, and denims – all lighter, softer tones.

So that we see the people first and your portrait looks stunning. Wedding group photos look so good because they’re all wearing the same colors and the people stand out!

  • choose a top with sleeves at least to the elbow

Because your arms take up more skin area than your face and will draw attention and it may also make your arms look larger

  • choose long pants for men/ladies or a skirt below the knee for ladies

So that your legs don’t take attention from your faces, and you will be able to sit and bend without showing too much leg

  • choose dark socks and footwear (unless it’s a barefoot photo on the beach)

Because white just sticks out like a sore thumb and that’s all you’ll notice in your portrait

  • keep jewelry simple and minimalistic

Because too much draws attention from your face

  • Do wear your hair the way you’d normally do it while wearing these clothes – no fancy up dos with jeans, no pony tails with evening gowns, etc. This is common sense, or so you’d think, but I’ve had ladies go to the hair salon and get fancy up dos then show up in jeans and a t-shirt.  It just simply doesn’t make sense cause you wouldn’t normally do that to put on jeans and go to the park for a BBQ or something.

Your portrait will be more timeless and represent more closely who you are, not just what you look like.”

  • If getting a haircut or new hairdo, make your appointment at least 2 weeks prior to your portrait session – again this seems like a no brainer but you’d be surprised!

Fresh haircuts rarely look their best the same or next day. Ladies need time to practice working it, men need it to grow out just a little. Allow some time to live with your new look before your portrait session.

 

This entry was posted in FAQ, Photo Session Tips.

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