What to Wear

Family Portrait

The best portraits are a reflection of character and personality, revealed in part by the clothes you choose to wear or dress your children in. As a result, I prefer not to give definitive instruction on attire for portrait commissions, but will offer some general advice.

Clothing Style
Simpler, solid clothing tends to photograph better than busy designs, which can often dominate and distract from the face. The same can be said for prominent logos and emblems, which are better avoided.
Formal clothing, if worn, tends to work more easily indoors. ‘Smart everyday’ is a more popular choice, because the portraits are supposed to be a reflection of normal life. More relaxed clothing will result in a more relaxed feeling to the photographs. In any case the clothing should suit the environment in which we create your portraits.
It is always advisable to wear trousers instead of shorts, and for women, skirts (if worn) should cover the knees when seated. Men should wear a longer sleeve shirt in preference to a T-shirt. Jeans are perfectly acceptable.
Shoes, whether smart or casual, should always be worn in preference to trainers. For young children this is not so important, but less busy designs and darker footwear is definitely preferable.
As a general rule, shirts and tops should be lighter than trousers, jeans and footwear. This helps draw attention inward and up. For outerwear this advice becomes less practical, but the basic idea remains the same. If there is significant contrast within your wardrobe, lighter tones tend to look better higher up.
There is a common belief that wearing off-white or cream will cause paler skin to look washed out. This is not the case.

Clothing should be ironed and clean. If foundation is worn, please apply lightly and blend in thoroughly over the entire face and neck, down to the neckline of your clothing. Mascara and makeup around the eyes, if worn, should be applied particularly carefully, as your eyes will be very prominent within the photographs. Please get in touch if you would like for me to arrange a professional makeup artist for your sitting.

It is advisable to have everyone in a group photograph wearing clothes of similar tone, so each person is as prominent as the next. The exception to this ‘rule’ is in the case of babies and small children who might be carried. They should wear clothing of similar or lighter tone than the rest of the group, again on the basis that the eye will be drawn to them. Please note: this advice is not a suggestion to wear ‘matching’ outfits. The idea is simply to achieve tonal balance and similar formality between subjects, because we will be photographing in black and white.

If you normally wear glasses, you may want them on for the portraits. Avoiding glare and distortions caused by the glass is very difficult when photographing. If possible, have your optician show you the best way to remove and replace your lenses, or request they lend you a glassless frame, similar to your own.

Your choice of clothing will make all the difference between achieving the finest, or the merely good portrait. I am here for any help and assistance, prior to or during the commission. More often than not, we’ll have the chance to switch between outfits on the day if you would like to explore different options. My family portrait portfolio might give you some ideas on what to wear.