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What do I wear for my portrait shoot?
The main thing is to be comfortable. A family photo shoot should be a relaxed and happy event. Wearing clothes that make you feel comfortable will help you to ease into the shoot.
Dress for your surrounds ie: if you are having a garden shoot, surrounded by lots of leafy green foliage, muted greens, browns and oranges will only aid in camouflaging you. If it’s a dreary, overcast day, you might want to re-consider wearing whites and greys and going for a pop of colour or contrast instead.
Contrast is your friend. Make sure you set yourself apart from your background.
Next, look to your skin tone. If you are about to pop on your favourite red winter knit, have a look in a mirror (in natural light if possible) and look for any colour reflections underneath your chin. Does the colour of your top give your skin an altered appearance? Does it make your normally rosy complexion more ruddy. Does that grey top make you look washed out, or does that rusted colour give your skin a sallow appearance?
In terms of what to avoid, the main thing I suggest people avoid wearing are any clothing with large logos or motifs/characters. These graphics, particularly logos and well known characters can really detract from the focal point – your lovely faces. People’s eyes will naturally be drawn to those in the first instance.
Avoid any overly branded clothing and outfits that are too casual. You want to look comfortable in your portraits, but you also want to see the best versions of yourselves. Tracksuits are hardly ever a good idea as wardrobe for a beautiful portrait.
What colours/prints (if any) and styles work best?
A mix of fabrics for is nice for texture. Lace is beautiful for little girls or as an accent for a woman.
Knit jumpers are something that photographs well. Layers are great as well, so that there is some visual interest to the outfits. Putting a solid colour cardigan over a dress or a blazer with a t-shirt and jeans can add just that extra little touch of style that makes a portrait special.
While normally we would advise people to stay away from bright whites on a regular basis (as bright areas of white clothing draw the focus away from the subjects) although everyone in white on the beach or in a white studio looks gorgeous. The hi-key effect is lovely.
Spots, stripes and plaids together with block colours if they are subtle and of the same tones. I think just a touch of those extra elements on one or two of the family members make’s the collection of clothes together look interesting and slightly spontaneous.
Is it better if everyone is matching (wearing the same/similar thing) or variations on a similar theme? It is better to see people in outfits that don’t match, but go together. Like those that have a similar colour palette.
Are there particular colours that should be avoided? Reds, oranges and bright pinks. or any overly saturated colours are hardest to get right in photos. They can end up looking too pink or too orange and sometimes if not exposed perfectly, can look both of those wrong colours at the same time!
What works generally? A semi casual look. Something you would wear to an afternoon at the theatre. Nothing too dressy, but something you take pride in wearing. Outfits that make you feel good. Shirts with collars are fantastic for framing the face. Scarves are great for adding colour and interest, as are statement necklaces or other pieces of jewellery. Hats and caps are fine, but don’t hide the eyes. Shoes …. people usually forget about this part. Make sure your shoes are neat and go with your outfit. They don’t have to be top shelf, but ensure that they are clean and in good appearance.
If you are wearing a button up shirt, be sure that the buttons don’t pucker. If you are wearing a sheer top, think about your clothing underneath and think about clothing that might slip or sit off the shoulder
If you wear foundation, ensure that the coverage is even and there are no lines around your neck. If you go for the spray tan, that’s absolutely fine, but just don’t overdo it or you could appear too orange or muddy looking.
If you are a hair up person, make sure you choose a style suitable for the day – you don’t want to constantly be fighting the wind blowing stray hairs over your face.
Does any of the above change if the photos are taken inside or in natural light? Background should always be taken into consideration when choosing outfits for a portrait. If the images are to be taken at sunset in a field of yellow flowers, the family would look amazing wearing a palette of violet, blues and cyans as they are the colours opposite yellow/orange on the colour wheel. The yellow of the field and the warm (orange) tone to the light will be set off beautifully by their opposing colours.
The same family might look amazing in a warm toned collection of clothing (think tan’s, brown and oatmeal) in a studio session though where the background and lighting can be controlled.

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