The clothes a person wears in a portrait can have a big impact upon the end image. When talking to a subject about what to wear I generally ask them to bring a few different outfits so that we can have a little variety to work with.
1. Your comfort is important’ish
One of the challenges of photographing someone is helping them to relax. The clothes that they wear and the environment that I’m photographing them can have a big impact upon how relaxed they are and how natural they look.
However – sometimes the best shots are of people when they are slightly ‘on edge’ or out of their comfort zone. Certainly if you want a magazine type ‘wow’ shot it may not ‘happen’ in your Muumuu or comfort lounging suit
2. Clothes put you in context
It’s a photograph, it is judging a book by it’s cover and you are the cover. Your outward appearance says a lot about who you are and how we see you. Your clothes will convey meaning and tell those viewing the image something about you. So think carefully about what you’re trying to achieve with the image and communicate this through your outfit. Think of a vibe, is it fun, formal, crazy, glamorous etc.
3. Dark and Plain Clothes
It’s all in the eyes. There’s something about a simple, darkish top that helps the focus of an image to be the on the face, probably why dark clothes tend to be slimming. Think of the texture of the cloth rather than patterns, lines, dots or bright colours. You want to shine, not the clothes.
An exception to this can be with kids whose portraits can come alive when you introduce some nice bright colours, but no mad patterns.
4. Collars & Necklaces
When photographing men, I find that a collared shirt emphasises the jaw line, framing the face and that can be quite flattering. With females a collar can help an otherwise not very flattering neckline. Always remember that jewellery can add or subtract from a photo just as much as a shirt. Try to keep the jewellery simple and with intent.