I've booked a portrait session. Now what do I wear?

Your clothing choices play a crucial role in creating a visually appealing and impactful image. For a professional portrait photoshoot, here are some things you might like to consider.

Solid colours and neutral tones are timeless and draw attention to the face. Avoid busy patterns or overly bright colours that are likely to pull attention away from your face. Classic black, white, grey, navy, and earthy tones like beige or olive create a clean and sophisticated look. For example, men could consider a well-fitted navy or charcoal suit, a white or light blue button-down shirt. Women may opt for a simple black or neutral-coloured dress, a blouse paired with a pencil skirt, or tailored trousers.

Logos and busy patterns can be distracting and may not age well in photographs. The goal is to highlight you rather than the brand or design on the clothing. Opt for clothing without prominent logos or distracting patterns. Simple stripes or subtle textures are acceptable, but they should not dominate the frame. Men could choose a solid-colored polo shirt or a button-down shirt without loud patterns and women may select a blouse or a dress with subtle textures or minimalistic patterns.

The background of your photos can influence clothing choices. If shooting outdoors, consider the colours of nature or urban landscapes. For indoor settings, choose colours that complement the backdrop without blending in too much. In a lush green environment, earthy tones or blues work well. In an urban setting, neutral colours like grey or black can provide a sleek contrast.

If you're a family or a group, remember that matching outfits exactly can appear contrived. Instead, aim for coordination by selecting colours that complement each other without being overly uniform. This approach adds visual interest without distracting from the individual. For a family photoshoot, you might choose a colour palette like shades of blue, with each member wearing a different tone. This creates a cohesive look without being regimental.

Clothing that complements your skin tone can enhance your natural beauty. Avoid colours that may wash out or clash with your complexion. For warm skin tones, earthy tones like oranges, yellows, or browns can be flattering. Cooler tones may benefit from blues, purples, or greens.

Accessories can add personality and interest to a portrait, but they should complement the overall look without overpowering it. A statement necklace, a watch, or a scarf can add a touch of individual style without becoming the focal point. For example, men sporting a classic watch, a subtle tie, or a pocket square will look terrific and women with a statement necklace, elegant earrings, or a tasteful scarf, will look stylish and professional.

Avoid short sleeves / sleeveless and shorts. All that exposed skin distracts from the faces. Keep in mind, that black or dark clothing, has a tendency to make you look slimmer. Whites and light pastels look fresh and timeless. Prescription glasses may or may not be worn. If you wear spectacles and your lenses are not anti-reflective, either remove the lenses, remove the glasses, or wear them on your forehead. Necklines, for both men and women, should be high and narrow. A wide open neckline tends to look thick, in a photograph.

Selecting the right clothing for a professional portrait is an art in itself. By considering factors such as colour, pattern, and the overall aesthetic, you can ensure that your clothing enhances the final photograph rather than detracting from it. Remember, the goal is to create a timeless and visually compelling image that focuses on your personality and expression.


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