what to wear?
Often the biggest hurdle between wanting an updated portrait and actually having it done is WHAT DO I WEAR? Though I would greatly benefit from the use of a personal clothing consultant myself on a regular basis, I do know how colors, textures & combinations translate to a good photograph and have a few tips for portrait wardrobe selection.
Begin by answering the following questions:
- What is the purpose of my portrait? a) to update my walls b) To announce an important life event c) To have a fun experience d) The whole family is going to be together
- How formal is my home/ style? a) relaxed, casual, comfortable = denim b) classy casual = skirts, khakis, button-up shirts c) very formal = dress pants, skirts, dresses, pressed shirts
- What colors do I love to decorate with? a) earth-tones: brown, rust, gold, cream b) bold pops of color on a neutral canvas c) soft and pale tones (pastels) d) I have an absolute favorite color. Tell me what matches it? e) Neutral tones- black, white, gray, cream
- Is my home decor/ style more masculine or feminine?
- Are there any colors I do not look good in or I detest? (simply avoid these).
- Which colors make you feel happy? a) red, magenta, orange, yellow, yellow-green = engergy, romance, warmth b) turquoise, green, blue, purple = cool, calm, tranquility, peace black, gray, tan, brown, white = neutrals, foundation, classic
RULES OF THUMB:
- Avoid being too “matchy, matchy” but look semi-coordinated. Don’t all arrive to your session wearing identical blue polo’s unless that is how you want to remember each other. Your family portrait may depict a blue shirted monster with 5 heads if you all wear the same exact color.
- Denim or not? Decide if this casual or semi casual look is what you’re after. If not, decide what will be worn for pants/ skirts/ etc.
- Select a favorite color family. It is okay to have blue be your theme, but combine lights (tints) and darks (shades) with your main color to create variety and contrast. This will give you some flexibility and will make it easier to pose you based on how the colors blend harmoniously. A color family can be “neighbor”s on the color wheel (analogous) or opposites on the color wheel (complementary).
- Balance comes by adding neutrals. It is safe to add denim with essentially any color, so in this case we’ll consider it a neutral. Neutrals are classic- never appearing out dated and look great on all people. Black, gray (my favorite!), brown, tan, cream and white. These basics are a perfect canvas to add a splash of color to (see swatch book 1). If you have a fair complexion/ hair a white top will wash you out- so choose a darker top. If you have a dark complexion/ hair, a black shirt will detract from your features. Just remember to balance things out.
- Throw in a pattern or two with the solids. I suggest selecting predominantly solid clothing to avoid distraction and to maintain a “timeless’ quality. If you want to liven things up a bit, select a pattern or two to give variety. Stripes and polka dots never seem to go out of style. Children’s clothing can be a great source for a fun color pallet that will tie in your whole family’s wardrobe.
- Texture photographs well! Choose a few items that will add texture: a scarf, vest, fun boots, jacket, a woven cardigan, etc. Layers are great. Rather than just a boy in a T-shirt, add a layer by wearing a button up shirt over the top. Belts, jewelry, watches all add to the “texture” element.”
- Before you go out and buy an all new wardrobe: Gather from your closets some samples of the colors you are considering and line them up on a bed or couch and see how they look together. When you blur your eyes do you see lights and darks? What pops out? Save $$ by utilizing clothing you already have with the addition perhaps a new piece or two. After you’ve done your line up, see what is lacking (ie. another dark shirt, a complementary color, etc.) If you want your portrait to be authentic- avoid buying clothes that you know your family would never wear “in real life.”
I have compiled a series of “color swatches” from portraits I’ve taken so you can have a visual for this concept. How fun are these portraits?