Preparing for your Portrait Session
So you found a photographer, booked the session, now what? What should I wear?
As a client this question may be haunting you as you want everything to be perfect, but don't let finding the right clothes overwhelm you as it can be fun and easy! I have listed some pointers (not rules ), that I try to suggest to my clients and that have proven beneficial in my portrait sessions!
What Should I/We Wear?
This is the most common question my clients ask me when we prepare for a session, as clothing can play a huge part in creating a successful portrait session.
First I recommend trying to coordinate your outfits as a family, couples, siblings, or even a group session. Now I'm not saying go out and buy matching sailor suits, but coordinate colors for a nice flowing picture as a group.
Solid colors are always the easiest choice, prints and patterns can distract the eye and draw attention away from everything else in the image. I feel that if prints are coordinated right then they can be appealing instead of distracting to an image, but matching colors are best. Try to keep tops and bottoms all of the same tones/colors, and if you choose prints try to use muted tones to avoid standing out to much in a group. 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.
Dark colors are not only flattering, they also keep the viewers eye moving toward the lightest part of the image (which should be your face). If you are doing an outdoor portrait, earth tones work really well. Blues, greens, browns are all great options. I personally love bright colors and feel that coordinating colors for the season or your home decor is an easy solution as well.
Jeans are a great choice. They are dark in color and almost everyone owns a pair that look great on them. Try to have everyone wear the same color of wash for jeans, as this will make the one person that shows up with the lighter jeans stick out in the picture, and thus be the main focal point.
If you are looking for something a little bit more formal, try dark pants, or even khakis. Just remember that lighter colors draw more focus. It is very common for families to dress all in white when they do family portraits ( tops), this is a great option. Remember
And always, always, no logos! Wearing a short with a bright logo and this will be the first thing people will see in the picture, I always tell my clients no logos! I also advise to my clients no writing! If a client shows up with a white t-shirt that says " I woke up like this", or "LOL" in bold writing, do you think that will be the focus of your picture or the person in the portrait?
The portrait below is a great example of a bad clothing option. Note: I took this random picture while taking landscape pictures so it was not planned at the moment. Makinzie is wearing a nice dark color that ties in the backdrop in the photo, on the other hand Maddie is wearing a shirt with a huge printed picture on it and a lanyard around her neck. Now we wont get into the fact that her hair is in her face, she is slouching, and her jean shorts would look better darker.. yes I'm picky ! But Maddies shirt and lanyard are what draws your eyes when you first glance at the picture instead of noticing these two adorable girls.
Don't forget the shoes! Shoes are important too, try to match colors or coordinate your shoe colors as well! Maybe everybody wear black or a dark brown shoe if wearing jeans or khakis, or maybe sandals for a summer shoot. Just remember the same color coordinating guidelines apply for shoes as well, one person in red Nikes will put a dent in your portrait's overall flow. For children I try to tell parents to avoid shoes that are full of their favorite cartoon character. I know this may be one of your child's favorite shoe and or character, but it is best that everyone is ready from top to bottom!
For seniors/individual sessions I have them follow the same guidelines as for family portraits when it comes to logos, shoes, and or colors. For seniors I suggest to have at least 3 or more outfits ready ( depending on the session your purchased, and if time allows), this is always good for variety in your pictures as you will surely want to pass out pictures to your classmates and or relatives and offer some options! Having an additional outfit ready for your young child's session is always my recommendation, in case something happens (I.E. sitting in gum), yes this happened on one of my sessions and I had to do what we could to hide a sticky situation!
With an individual portrait session, a client can usually get away with wearing a print for a top or bottom ( preferably not both, you don't want to be remembered wearing emoji leggings and a polka dot t-shirt believe me!) For individuals I think that a bolder print always works just because there will only be one person in the photo and it pushes the eyes to that client, but at the same time it may draw attention away from the clients face. Color choice will always boil down to personal preference but, like I said before I like bolder brighter colors and below are two examples that have proved for individuals bold colors can make a great portrait!
The Small things matter!
Small things do matter! Avoid hair ties on the wrists, ink stamps and or writing on skin, dirty faces ( children), hair-ties in the hair that do not coordinate, food in teeth, and yes bright red lanyards around the neck! Try to keep jewelry simple and minimal.
When it comes to makeup try to choose a makeup that matches your skin and blends into your neck, discolorations show up on portraits and are sometimes hard to fix. When it comes to nail polish I try to tell my clients to remove chipped polish, and try to have neutral colors so not to put all the attention on your hands and feet instead of you the subject. If you are planning to have pictures taken of your hands and feet then try to make sure your nails are ready for the session too!
Get plenty of rest the night before, and stay hydrated, this helps to lesson dull skin, bags under eyes, and keeps you looking and feeling the best for your session overall!
Bring extra makeup in case of touch ups, snacks and toys for children to keep them occupied between shots, water, jackets ( in winter), back up outfits (accidents do happen!), and even alternate shoes (if your session will include a little extra walking outside).
Try not to let the task of finding that "perfect" outfit stress you out, just keep in mind what you want people to see when they look at your picture. You want them to see you and think, "What a nice smile.", instead of seeing neon striped socks with flip flops and think, "What were they thinking wearing that!"
Your portrait session is supposed to be fun! Ask your photographer questions about clothing options before your session , take a quick snapshot of your outfit choice and text it to your photographer to get there opinion if you want! I always want my clients to be comfortable and ready for their session so we can make incredible and lasting memories!
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