Mother And Son Portrait
Mother and son portrait.

You have your portrait session in just a few days, you are flustered as you do not know what to wear. Your stress rises as you open your wardrobe and see all of the same old clothes, and to make it worse you no longer fit into that suit you love.

The most important thing is to relax and enjoy having your photo taken! Easier said than done as most people do not like being in front of the camera. So here are a few tips I give to my clients before their portrait session. I hope these answers help you feel a little more relaxed before your portrait shoot..

When we look at photographs, our eyes tend to go to the lightest and sharpest part of the image first. For your portrait we want your face to be lit well and in focus! In addition, what we wear can distract from our faces. Really bright colours not only draw our attention away, but they can also reflect unnatural hues onto our skin.

The best clothes are the ones you feel the best in.

If you think that you look really good in that cocktail dress then wear it. If those tweed trousers make you feel a million dollars then wear them.

But try to avoid:

  • Trends that will date your photograph in six months (although it probably will be popular again in 20 years time)
  • High contrast blouses or shirts
  • Oversized jumpers to ‘hide your figure’
  • Clothing with pictures, writing or large logos unless the pictures, writing or large logos relate specifically to the photos. In other words, no Carlsberg tee shirts unless this photo is for a magazine story about binge drinking; no Disney shirts unless this family portrait is in front of Cinderella Castle.
  • Loud colours, busy patterns, bold stripes, big checks, polka dots, tank tops, and clothes that are baggy–or too tight–all call attention to the clothes, not the wearer.
  • Neon-coloured clothing is popular right now, especially in children’s clothes and shoes. Avoid neon if at all possible. It often prints an odd shade and reflects onto skin very easily.
  • The basic rule is that attention is on you, not your clothes. Obviously, if you are doing a fashion shoot then the opposite is true!

Q: Anything else about clothes?

A: Iron clothes that need it before the shoot starts and don’t pick up the cat/dog once you are in your best clothes.

Q: Anything else?

A: Avoid any sudden, and potentially unflattering, changes immediately before the portrait (e.g. completely new radical hairstyle the week before your portrait). Don’t go mad and not eat for three days trying to shed a few pounds…you will not look your best!

The best advice is SHE: Sleep, Hydrate, Enjoy!

Peter Nutkins

Portraits in your own home

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