Getting ready for your photo session? Here are some helpful ideas!
- Coordinate and Compliment.
- Layers & Textures.
- Subtle Props.
- On Your Feet.
- How Will the Images be Used?
- Don’t Date Yourself.
- Get Comfortable.
- Patterns are Good.
- Think About Location.
- A Few More Tips.
When styling a photo session, let’s start out with a basic color palette. For group sessions no patterns are best. If there is a “Center Stage” person who is to stand out, it helps to have just that one person in a pattern of which the rest in the group can pull from with complimentary colors and accessories, keeping their outfits more simple. Another idea is to have all folks in your group wear different colors but all within the same tone. This means for all colors to be bright, dull, or neutral. For pants, jeans or dark colors are best.
Think outside the box. Scarves, hats, jewelry, sweaters, vests, jackets, flowers in the hair for girls – All of these things can make an image look interesting and feel complete. However, don’t overwhelm the subject, as the viewer’s attention should remain on the subject’s face. See how in this photo, her blue headband is accessorizing his blue shirt, and his tie is accessorizing her nail polish? The location colors also compliment the subjects!
Tweed, crochet and embroidery details, lace, hand knit items, smocking, ribbons and ruffles can add interest to a photo creating layers and textures. Also adding different layers of clothing and accessories can add another dimension to the overall texture of the image. These are especially important in black and white images.
The absolute best prop is something that is meaningful to you. This can be grandpa’s vintage camera, a child’s favorite stuffed animal, a vintage magazine, mom’s handmade quilt or the family’s pet. Without distraction, props add meaning to, and compliment your image.
The choice of shoes can make or break an outfit. Slipping on a pair of hip distressed boots, colorful stylish flats or funky colorful Converse can tie everything together. Pick a color or texture to accent your clothing. Sometimes wearing no shoes at all look best, especially if you’ll be posing where the bottoms of shoes can be seen. And don’t forget to add another splash of color with some funky socks if your overall look is fun and bright.
Think about the primary reason you are doing the session and dress accordingly. For a business or actor’s head shot, consider your industry standard. Then decide to match or deviate from it. What message do you want to portray – conservative, artistic, trustworthy? Will the image be displayed on a business card, website, brochures? Will the family or children’s image be displayed in the drawing room, family room, bedroom? Is the image to say, “conservative”, “fun”, “funky”?
Considering Who You Are Today, choose clothing that is timeless, perhaps a little vintage in style. Use soft neutral tones with a pop of color then add interesting accessories, layers and textures. I do love color so consider bright and funky as long as it’s not distracting from your face or personality. Of course, this is a personal choice and many folks will go all out in the latest trends, thinking of their clothing choice as a time stamp.
In both the studio and in wide open locations, I love movement and flow. Nothing better than a twirly, whirly dress or scarf or hat that moves when dancing, spinning, jumping.
Make sure clothing and accessories are comfortable, without the pull or scratch of some new items, especially with children. Allowing children help to pick out their outfit can make them much happier during the session and allows their beautiful personality shine through in images. Think of layers instead of changing outfits. For both children and adults, make sure you select an outfit that makes you feel stunning and relaxed.
Patterns can add visual interest and texture as well as a good does of personality. Just make sure that either just one person is in a pattern with the rest of the folks in simple, more solid color pieces or the patterns are subtle and complementary. A patterned dress can actually be the secondary focus and part of the story as long as it doesn’t distract from the face.
Make sure your wardrobe complements the surroundings. In a park, a little girl can be dressed in a simple, vintage style dress with boots. That same look might be out of place in an urban setting in front of a harsh graffiti wall.
- Avoid anything with logos, graphics characters, labels, etc. They distract from the face and take the professional portrait down a few notches.
- Wait two weeks after a hair cut for the most natural look.
- Don’t make everyone wear the same color. Matching is boring and dated. Let everyone have a their own spin on the same color palette.
- While staying current, avoid obvious fashion trends that will be dated soon.
- No bright white socks and no sneakers unless we’re talking about something fashionable like funky Converse. Remove watches or jewelry not complementary to the session’s look.
- Clothing should cover your arms to at least the elbows. All that extra skin can distract from your face. With that said this depends on the purpose of the portrait.
- Nails should be trimmed and clean. Gals, newly applied nail polish or none at all.
- Guys, make sure your neck and any facial hair is trimmed of those pesky little hairs.
Check out Pinterest for some great examples at “Paint the Moon” and other fashion pages.
These ideas were gathered from Annie at Paint the Moon. The best collection of What to Wear tips I’ve found.
Images are selected from my work, Annie’s and a few others.
I am a Southern California based Portrait, Event and Fine Art Photographer who sees the world a bit differently.
Together, we can Capture YOUR Life, One Image at a Time!