How to Prepare – General Info (go back to How to prepare)
Memorable portraits take careful planning, and the clothing you choose is very important to your portrait’s success. These guidelines will help you to make important decisions about your portrait.
Clothing, color, tone, and style
The goal of any fine portrait is to direct the viewer’s attention to the face or faces in the portrait. Simple long–sleeved garments in medium to dark tones of brown rust, burgundy, green, or blue are pleasing choices when photographed against a dark background.
- Proper clothing allows the face to dominate the portrait. All other elements should be secondary.
- Bold stripes, plaids, checks, and prints are confusing, and do not photograph well.
- Especially bright colors, such as red and orange, will completely overpower the face and ruin a portrait.
- Light–colored clothing calls attention to itself, and away from the face. Avoid light colors that approximate flesh tones such as beige, tan, peach, pink, white, and yellow. Darker shades are more flattering and slimming.
- Light colors are appropriate against a white or pastel background, or with a dark background, when an interpretive “pictorial” study is planned.
Clothing for families
In a family group, proper clothing coordination is critical. When decorating a home, a major concern is to coordinate the colors and tones of the walls, carpets, draperies, and furniture. This kinds of coordination also is necessary when selecting clothing for a group portrait. Choose clothing in the same tonal ranges so that no single member of the family stands out because the clothing is too light or bright, as compared to the rest of the group.
- Clothing that blends harmoniously creates timeless portraiture because the viewer’s eye goes directly to the faces.
- Clothing in medium shades complement portraits made in outdoor environments.
Tips on clothing style & accessories
- Very simple garments always photograph best.
- Turtle necks or v–necks are flattering, provided that neither is exaggerated in style. Avoid very wide or particularly deep v–neck garments as well as bulky cowl neck sweaters that completely hide the neck.
- Long sleeves are essential for teens and adults, as bare arms call attention to themselves and will overpower the face.
- Women being photographed in full length should wear long skirts, pants, or dark stockings in order to keep the eye from being directed toward the legs and away from the face.
- If feet are to show in the portrait, make certain shoes and stockings are in keeping with the visual intent of the portrait.
- Men should have their hair cut about one week before the portrait session. Women should be photographed whenever they are happiest with their hair in relation to the time it is styled.