Do I look okay?
Does this make me look fat?
How about this paired with this?
I hate it. What about this?
Be honest….you’re not just saying that because you have to, right?
This is the progression of conversation that Patrick and I have prior to leaving the house. I get asked all the time what to wear for portrait sessions, and I wanted to give some tips for finding a great ensemble. Believe it or not, many of the tips I’m offering have very little to do with what you’re wearing and more about how you feel.
Confidence photographs so well, and if you’re not feeling amazing, the pictures will show it. Even if you’re awesome at faking it for the camera, every time you look back on your images you’ll remember exactly how you felt at that moment in time.
Lighting and Location
Soft and even light looks great on everyone. Being photographed in soft, even light is a photographer’s dream, and guaranteed you will love the way that it makes your skin look. Also, the environment bounces subtle colors back into your skin, so choosing locations with neutral buildings or landscapes give your skin a warm, gorgeous glow.
Say yes to long flowy dresses or skirts because it adds movement to your images. There is no such thing as too dressed up so rock that flower crown, tulle skirt, or sequined gown. Most women, including myself, have areas of their body that they are self-conscious about. Choosing flattering silhouettes and colors that complement your natural features increase that confidence we’ve been talking about.
Statement necklaces, belts, hats, and earrings that don’t compete for attention with your natural features look absolutely stunning, bringing your look together.
Softer, lighter tones, and muted shades bring the attention to you and your confidence as opposed to what you’re wearing. The camera loves creams, heather grays, leather brown, and white, mixed with soft pinks and muted blues.
Hair, Skin, and Makeup
Getting professional hair and makeup done is something I recommend to my clients for ease of getting ready and for confidence. Professional hair and makeup loves the camera and gives you the chance to treat yourself before portraits. Also, it may seem counter-intuitive, but avoid spray tans anytime before your session. Even when applied professionally, spray tans can photograph orange, so I recommend that gorgeous natural skin of yours anytime.
Long-fitted dress or colored pants and closed-toed shoes are the most sophisticated and masculine looks for men. Mixing up a suit coat, blazer, or sport coat with a different color pant color adds visual interest, resulting in a timeless look. Also, layered looks photograph so well, so blazers, coats, and vests up the level!
Ties, bow ties, pocket squares, the more the merrier! Maybe not the tie and bow-tie at the same time though….
Solid shades of gray or navy are a strong compliment to most women’s outfits as well as to your handsome features. Avoiding pinstripes or plaid patterns as well as graphics and logos, bring the attention back to your masculine features as opposed to what you’re wearing.
I encourage guys to get a hair cut no later than 2 weeks prior to the session. That way, if you’re not completely satisfied with your hair, time will give it the opportunity to grow before your session.
Coordinating your look
The key word is “complement” as opposed to “match” when thinking about coordinating with other people in the image.
When thinking about colors, dominant colors are the primary colors in the outfit while accent colors have the smallest piece of real estate in your ensemble.
Aim for each person to wear a different dominant color and tie in varying accent colors. The goal is to visually break up colors and shades so that you’re not all wearing the same color on top and bottom. This can be a challenge if there are several little ones to coordinate, so I recommend starting with mom and then coordinate dad’s and the little’s outfits based off of what she’s wearing.
With all of that being said, remember that the more confident you feel, the more you will love the way you look in the images. Happy planning!