10 Tips What to Wear to a Portrait Session - Stuart Meyer Photography

1) Colors:  Wear solid colors that are subdued and yet complement the skin tone.  Avoid tops and bottoms that contrast too strongly, and choose socks that are either dark or of similar color to the pants.  Lighter tops give a more casual and bright feel to the photos, and pastels can enhance natural skin tones.  Black and dark tops give portraits a more serious, thoughtful feel, and dark also slims the figure.  If someone is pale, avoid a solid white top; layer the white underneath a sweater or sport coat instead.

2) Patterns:  Avoid busy or distracting patterns like large stripes, large plaids with big square patterns, and big logos (unless the logo is the main theme of the photo, like an alma mater). Smaller stripes, like pin stripes, can work, but they tend to make people look wider.

3) Balance fashion with comfort:  Wear clothes that are fashionable and yet comfortable, not too tight and not too baggy.  V-necks work well on women, but avoid too low of a neckline so that closeup images have a balanced mix of clothing and skin tones within the frame.  Avoid turtlenecks - they tend to make people look like they don't have a neck at all. 

4) Groups and couples:  Try to coordinate outfits without over-matching and try to stay with similar tones.  The photo on this page has some examples of that.  Solid, yet light colors work well, and very dissimilar colors are distracting.

5) Consider the surroundings: Pick clothing that complements your surroundings, yet lets you stand out.  For example, if the background will be yellow leaves of the fall, avoid a solid yellow top, but maybe have yellow accents that complement the leaves.  If the background will be hazy or nearly white, avoid a white top and instead opt for a bolder color that will help you to stand out.  Avoid black or dark clothing if the background will be dark.  

6) Sleeves:  Wear sleeves if you want to hide your arms.  For the summer, 3/4 length sleeves that come down to the elbows work great.

7) Grooming and Jewelry:  Girls should keep their makeup natural and guys should shave or trim their beards.  Jewelry should be worn sparingly.  Avoid heavy-looking charms and large stones, as well as jewelry with names and lettering.  Earrings should be simple, yet elegant.  Guys should remove wristwatches, unless it is the main feature of the image. 

8) Accessories for high school seniors:  High school seniors can bring props and accessories that show who they are. These can be hats, scarves, fur coats, sports memorabilia, a car (for an outdoor session), musical instruments, and sports jerseys. If they are athletic, they could incorporate elements of their sport into the photography session.

9) Things to bring for toddlers and children:  For toddlers and kids, use bright and fun outfits.  Bring hats, scarves, sunglasses, blankets, boots, jackets, a favorite toy car or stuffed animal.  

10) Newborn photography:  Newborns are best photographed within two weeks of birth in their natural element.  These sessions can take two to three hours, so plan to bring enough formula/milk for two (or more) feedings.

Author: Stuart Meyer