The selection of proper clothing for your portrait is a critical
factor in the preparation for a successful portrait.
If the clothing is noticeable in a portrait, it could easily become
a distraction. Clothing that does not attract attention to itself is
the ultimate goal. It could be the difference between a very
successful portrait and just another picture. We can not stress
enough how important it is for you to observe the following
criteria. It is quite possible that if inappropriate clothing is
selected, the photographer may ask you to change your
selection before the portrait sitting is made.
Dark Clothing Tends to Slenderize
Darker clothing helps to blend the bodies with the background,
so that the faces are the most important part of the
photograph. Dark colors definitely tend to slenderize the
subject. Light colors seem to add weight to the bodies.
The color of the clothing should always be toned down. Bright
colors attract attention away from the face. Colors MUST be
dark and not bright. This is ESSENTIAL! When choosing lighter
colors, stick to pastels, but avoid pink tones. Pale yellow and
pale blue work well, especially with jeans or kaki pants.
Prints and any kind of pattern (no matter how small) 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
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
White shirts and/or blouses under a dark jacket are perfect. A
scarf loosely tied around the neck also helps to frame a face
beautifully when a collarless blouse or sweater is worn. Neckties
should definitely be toned-down in color and with a minimum
Finally, lay out all the clothing onto a bed. Shoes, socks,
stockings (dark hose is mandatory) – everything should be
included…shoes, too! Then, take a careful look at the
collection. If your eye goes to any one item in particular, you
can be certain that the same thing will happen in a
photograph. That item should be changed.
Clothing should not be too tight or too loose. It is often a good
idea for clothing below the waistline to be darker than the
clothing above. Otherwise, even light jeans worn below a
darker top could easily attract attention to the lower part of the
body and away from the face.
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
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.
Hair Style and Makeup
Hair styles should be SIMPLE and MUST be off the face. Hair
falling down onto the sides of the face (currently very much in
style) 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. Eye makeup
should be blended – no sharp demarcation lines between
colors. AVOID WHITE above or below the eyes. It does not
photograph well at all. Too much color above and below the
eyes attracts attention to itself. It actually takes attention AWAY
from the eyes, rather than attracting the viewer to the eyes.
Foundation makeup should be blended at the jawline, so that
there is no demarcation between the face and the neck.
Group (Family) Shoots
Keep your clothing simple and coordinating. 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 warmtoned
(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.
Our goal is to show off that adorable baby bump, I prefer to do
maternity on a solid black or white backdrop. Black, from head
to toe is usually good (a flowing white outfit can also look
great). A simple black or white (or both!) button down top in
which the bottom area can be unbuttoned easily to expose
your belly works best. Please encourage the father (and your
children if you have others) to come along if you wish (they
should also dress in solid black or white). We will take several
poses with your hands, so be sure to remove any jewelry that
you do not want in the pictures (some women want to have
their wedding ring in the picture, others do not. Most prefer to
remove their wrist watch). If you know you are having a boy or
a girl and/or know what your baby will be named please let me
know that info as well. Finally, be assured that I will not ask you
to leave your comfort zone. I don’t want to ask you to do
anything that you are uncomfortable with. Please be up-front
in regards to what you would like, and are willing to do. I
promise that we will do very graceful and tasteful posing for
Newborns and Babies
95% of the time, photographs of newborns and babies look
best in their natural element i.e…their birthday suits! If you want
them to be photographed with clothes, solid colors usually work
best. Of course if you have that amazing outfit that you would
love a photograph of, include it! Bare Feet are a must! Feel
free to bring any kind of prop that you want included.
For newborn shoots (under 1 month old; ideally less than 2
weeks old) it is best to set aside a total of 3 hours so that we
have plenty of time for feeding, changing, and so that we
have the best chance of capturing your baby asleep and
awake. I prefer parents to dress in solid black from head to toe
so that I can get the creative shots you are looking for!
Toddlers and Kids
I am a very casual person and I prefer to photograph children
that way as well. Typically, my style of photography does not
work well for traditional clothing or traditional portraits. Try to
leave the “Sunday Best” at home. So . . . some suggestions –
Solid colors work best. Bright and fun and funky bring out a
whimsical side while Khaki’s, blue jeans, and white shirts are for
more serious captures. A pretty dress is always beautiful for little
girls. Don’t forget hats, sunglasses, boots, blankets, jackets, etc.
can be great to show personality and bring out their silly
side. Feel free to bring any other prop or comfort item that you
want to include.
Teens have their OWN sense of style – I love to let them express
it however they wish!
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.