Selecting proper clothing for your portrait is a critical factor in the preparation for a successful portrait. If the clothing is noticeable or overbearing in a portrait, it could easily become a distraction.
Wear clothes that fit. I personally have been guilty of wearing clothes that are too big in effort to hide body parts. But, it actually creates the opposite result. So make sure to wear clothing that is tailored and fits you well. I will help pose you in the most flattering position for you.
Dress kids in clothes they love. For family photo shoots, dress your kids in clothes that they love. Don’t force kids to wear something that they don’t like. We want to keep them happy during the session. In addition, make sure your kids are fed and bring snacks and treats to keep everyone happy. Schedule your session after nap-time to bring out the sweet, happy nature of your children. For babies, make sure the nappy isn't visible or blends in with the rest of the outfit.
Dark clothing tends to slenderise. Darker clothing helps to blend the bodies with the dark coloured background, so that the faces are the most important part of the photograph. Dark colors definitely tend to make the subject more slender. Light colours would be more suitable if a white backdrop is preferred - Although the popular choice these days is dark backdrops. White shirts and/or blouses under a dark jacket are perfect however. If you are worried about not appearing slender then it is safer to avoid white.
Tone down bright colours. Bright colors attract attention away from the face and may be reflective. Avoid wearing red, bright pink, bright green etc.
Prints, big text and patterns are a definite NO. This includes logos. Avoid prints of any kind and patterns. No matter how small the print or the pattern, it will 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. Stripes tend to cause a moire effect on digital photography which is very difficult to remove.
Avoid short sleeve clothing and short pants. Long sleeved clothing is a MUST! For casual portraits it is equally important to wear long pants instead of shorts. 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 is a major distraction.
Don’t over accessorise! Overbearing or heavily noticeable accessories can be a major distraction. Simple and minimal works best. Thin scarves work very well for ladies.
Glasses. 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.
Make Up, Hair & Nails. Make sure your nails are nicely manicured and that the nail colour compliments your outfits. Natural nail colours work best. Hair styles should be simple and must be off the face. Hair falling down onto the sides of the face 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. It is always a great idea to have your make up and hair professionally applied for your photography session (we have a makeup artist on request) . It will make a huge difference in how you look and feel.
Nails: I have to repeat this one as it is so often missed unfortunately: Ladies, Please please make sure your nails are nicely manicured. I often bring in the hands into the photo to enhance a pose and a badly manicured hand just ruins the whole photo.
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.
Group / family portrait sessions. Keep your clothing simple and coordinated. 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.
The day before the shoot: Prepare and pack everything you need for the shoot. Clothes, ties, hats, jewelry, accessories. Also pack your deodorant, a hairbrush and makeup touch up bag. You are also welcome to bring your phone music playlist that I can plug into my speakers. Bring your phone charger and audio adapter too.
Final thoughts. 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.