Clothes Can Make or Break the Portrait

wear1You’ve heard me say it before but I still think that client communications is the most important aspect of portraiture. That dialog begins with the initial contact and then moves through all of the communications that happen during a session but to make the best possible portrait, it should start before a subject arrives at your studio or the shoot’s location.

Offering a few simple tips to subjects before a shot can make their session go better and can help them enjoy the portraits that are produced during of the session, which, hopefully, translates into higher sales.

One of the most important things I always (and I mean always) suggest is that the subject wear solid colors. No prints, plaid, and especially checks—unless I’m going for some kind of retro look. Nothing detracts from a subject’s face more than clothes covered in  patterns and prints. I tell clients that the time to wear these kinds of clothes is for fun, not during a portrait session when the emphasis should be on the their face.

wear2But this is real life isn’t it? And things don’t always go as planned. Although you might prefer that a portrait subject bring solid colored clothing to a shoot, that doesn’t always happen out here in the real world, so for the portrait at right, I got in close and suggested this hands-on-face pose that accentuated this subject’s smile.

Copping tightly helped the portrait somewhat but it won’t always work to minimize the busy pattern of a subjects clothing, so I switched the Canon EOS 5D into Monochrome mode and tried a complete different pose (left) creating a totally different look but using the almost identical lighting setup. It’s not a prefect solution but it is one possible solution, when a session doesn’t quite go as planned.

Author: Joe Farace

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