Ahhhhh, the most commonly asked question before a photography session: "What do you recommend we wear?" Good question! Here is my take on this important element of your photography session.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Shooting environment: Park or garden? Downtown? Your home? Location can be a key factor in deciding what to wear for your portraits. A downtown, urban location with alleys, brick walls, and lots of textures is a very different setting than a park with rocks, green grass and bridges; likewise, your choice of attire may be different for each one. We will consult prior to your session about good options for your location.
Skin tones: Certain colors look best (or not-so-great) on certain skin tones; be aware of what looks best on each person in your family. If one person is very fair-skinned, think about her attire and what will compliment her well and build the family’s ensemble around that particular color, for example. For fair-skinned subjects, it is best to avoid light colors, white, black, tan and beige, as they may make the subject appear "washed out." For darker-skinned subjects, it is best to avoid light colors as well, as the contrast will appear distracting in a group portrait.
Body types: Be aware of what works with your body and figure. It is more important to wear what realistically flatters your body and fits you best, not what fashion dictates! Always wear clothing that is comfortable and that allows for some movement.
For group photos . . . coordinate, but don't match. It is best if colors are not exactly the same, but are complimentary colors or similar shades of one same color. For example, several shades of blue would go well together. Or, grays and blues would go well together. Or you could mix rich colors such as teal and brown. For group shots, try to repeat a color at least once; if Dad is wearing a dark blue shirt, perhaps a child could wear blue jeans or Mom could wear a blue shirt layered under a cardigan/jacket/scarf (of another color). I recommend solid colors or very light patterns (i.e. light gingham, small prints), especially for session with more than one person.
Recommended colors: - gold, rich yellow (like dark mustard yellow) - brown, mocha, khaki - turquoise, teal - burgundy, rust - traditional earthy tones such as tan, gold, brown - ivory, when paired with other colors
Colors to avoid: - solid white - solid pastel colors or pale yellows, greens - neon colors - bright red, blue, orange or green - everyone in black
I also recommend layers; let me rephrase . . . I highly recommend layers! I love the layered look! Layering your attire with solid fabrics and textures, or solid colors and simple patterns in scarves and other accessories adds depth and interest to your portraits. Plus, we have the added bonus of taking the jacket or scarf off to create another look.
Other things to avoid and that do not photograph well: patterns and logos that are distracting; stripes and large plaid or other prints compete with your face for attention. In a group photo, bold patterns on one person detract attention from the other members of a group.
Jeans or darker bottoms/skirts look best. Jeans are most recommended for casual portraits; for ladies, jeans or a knee-length or longer skirt/dress works well, also. Jeans just photograph well and “wear” well when we are moving around during a session. It is recommended that everyone’s jeans be of a similar shade (medium blue to dark blue jeans are best). Khakis are also a good option. Of course, dresses and skirts mix well with either jeans or khakis.
Sleeved-tops are recommended for ladies, as are longer pants/jeans/skirts (knee-length or longer). This draws attention to your face and eliminates potential distractions from your arms and legs. There are certainly exceptions to every rule, so just be aware of what works for your skin-tone and body-type, as well as the type of fabric and how it “moves” when you move. Tighter tops will only appear tighter in portraits, so be aware of how your clothing fits your body when you are sitting and standing, as we will be doing both during portraits. Remember the rule of layering can be very flattering and can help “fix” a questionable shirt or style (sleeveless, too low-cut, too tight). Collared or polo shirts, short or long-sleeved, look very nice on men; collars frame the face and look great in portraits.
In fall and winter, knit sweaters and wool fabrics look fabulous in pictures. In spring and summer, flowing dresses and button-ups (for guys) look great. Cardigans or jackets always look great (think layers!), as do scarves and other accessories.
Check your socks and shoes! Sounds strange, I know . . . but be sure to check your sock color (this is mostly for the guys and young men). When you are sitting and pants shorten up at the ankles in sitting positions, your ankles may show and white socks always stand out (as do bare ankles). Likewise, white sneakers (or any sneakers) stand out quite a bit! Neutral or dark colored shoes are recommended! Sandals on ladies look nice most anytime, but keep in mind that showing feet of some persons and not others can be a distraction. Ladies are typically the exception; dressy sandals usually always work well on ladies provided that they match the attire.
There are exceptions to every rule, of course . . . so don’t be afraid to ask me if you have questions! For photography sessions with just one subject (a young child or a high school senior, especially) there are some “rules” here that I see “broken” and work okay. I even have clients text me or email me pictures of the clothing items they have selected and ask for my feedback. I actually really appreciate that you are putting thought into it and I will always reply to your photo texts and emails with my honest opinion or "stamp of approval."