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Portrait Planning Tips

The more thought and planning you put into your photography sitting, the more you will like the outcome of your session.

The selection of proper clothing for your portrait is an important factor in the preparation for a successful portrait.  If the clothing is noticeable in a portrait, it could easily become a distraction.

Clothing that does not attract attention to itself is the ultimate goal. It could be the difference between a very successful portrait and just another picture.

Dark Clothing Tends to Slenderize

Darker clothing helps to blend the bodies with the background, so that the faces are the most important part of the photograph.  Dark colors definitely tend to slenderize the subject.  Light colors seem to add weight to the bodies.

The color of the clothing should always be toned down.   Bright colors attract attention away from the face. Any kind of pattern - no matter how small, may become a distraction.

Avoid Short Sleeve Clothing and Short Pants

For casual portraits it is better to wear long pants instead of shorts.  When arms and legs are exposed to the camera there will be more flesh in the photograph in those areas than on the face, itself.

White shirts and/or blouses under a dark jacket are perfect. A scarf loosely tied around the neck also helps to frame a face beautifully when a collarless blouse or sweater is worn.

Neckties should definitely be toned-down in color and with a minimum of pattern.

Today’s fashions with bright and pastel colors look great for our contemporary posing… but don’t forget the colors that Mom and Dad would like for you to be photographed in.

Center of Interest

We want to create portraits of people, not clothing.   Apparel and props should not detract from the subject.  However, clothing and props can establish a mood and should be well thought out.

If you have a special theme such as sports, art, music, etc., feel free to bring your own personal props with you. This is one way to make your portraits show your unique individuality.


Choose a color that you know compliments your skin tones. If you’re not sure, think of the clothes you wear that you receive compliments on.   Usually, you look good in them because their color brings out your best facial tones.


Tone is the lightness or darkness of the color you choose.

If you want your portrait to be taken with a light backdrop, choose a light tone of clothing.

For a dark backdrop, choose a darker tone.

The reason tone is so important is that the eye goes to the area of greatest contrast, and the best portraits bring the eye to the face of the subject.

When extreme tonal changes occur in clothing chosen, then the eye goes to the clothes.  That is OK if you want to show off the clothes, but for a fine portrait, the personality and features of the subject’s face should be the focus of the portrait.

Solid colors are best, because they do not draw attention away from the face. However, a very subtle pattern is fine and does add variety. loud patterns are not recommended.

Long Sleeves and Long Pants are better than sleeveless or shorts unless you want to draw attention to the body rather than the face.  That is because large amounts of skin exposed draws attention away from the face.

Resist the frills temptation by keeping both the clothing or the background simple.

Dress in simple, soft fabrics that follow the body’s natural contours.  Avoid baggy clothing and abundant lace or frills, which can be overpowering.

Traditional styles will stand the test of time and keep your portrait looking fresh for years to come.

Some poses will show your shoes so don’t forget to bring shoes & socks for each outfit that you plan to wear.

The most flattering neckline for anyone is something that comes up close to the neck.  A wide-open neckline tends to thicken the neck in a photograph.

On the other hand, a neckline that comes up to the base of the neck - a turtleneck or a v-neck top is the most flattering. It tends to slim down the person and frames the face beautifully.

Finally, lay out all the clothing onto a bed. Shoes, socks, stockings (dark hose is mandatory) - everything should be included...shoes, too! Then, take a careful look at the collection. If your eye goes to any one item in particular, you can be certain that the same thing will happen in a photograph. That item should be changed.  If you are not sure, bring it in! It is better to have too many clothes at your session, than too few!

Bring items that reflect your personal style, personality and interest such as a letter jacket, football jersey and football, cheerleader uniform, tennis racket, guitar, etc.

Two of the most common problems that senior have is guys bringing in the incorrect color of socks and ladies having only darker or lighter undergarments that show through the opposite color of clothing.

Clothing of material that wrinkles easily should be put on at the studio.

Careful pressing of clothing is more important than how new it is. Photographs do not show the age of the clothes, but they will show wrinkles.

For daytime clothes wear "basic" clothes with a minimum of accessories.

Bring along your favorite hats. You will enjoy the variety in mood that a hat can create.

Also any favorite sports equipment, clothing (uniforms, etc.), or hobby stuff.

Kelly Expressions, Ltd,

2394 Seneca Street, Buffalo NY 14210 - 716-823-9123

Page Reviewed on Sunday, January 04, 2009 10:43

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The Prom Planning Network

Copyright 2009


The Prom Planning Network

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