When I'm creating portraits for you, I'm always thinking about the overall look and feel of the images - does the setting suit the walls of your home, where you might hang the images up; do the props and backdrops suit your personal tastes; do you feel comfy in the clothes; and do they complement the scene...?

If you're at the stage of planning your outfits for our portrait photoshoot, here are my top hints and tips:

1. Have a back up. Pick one main outfit and one back up outfit (in case of accidents).

2. Be comfy. Avoid things like ill-fitting clothing tugging, itchy labels, or trying to reposition clothing to hide things like nappies. In this way, the focus of the shoot can be on having fun rather that re-adjusting.

3. Coordinate but don’t match. Start by pick one main item of clothing and then pick everything else and everyone else’s clothing to complement that item whilst keeping the rest of the clothing more simple. There’s no need for everyone to wear the same colour, but avoid colours that clash and too many patterns or textures. Two main colours with a third accent colour across all the outfits works well. 

4. Consider the final use of the portraits. If they are going to hang on a wall at home, consider coordinating clothing colours with your décor. Bear this in mind when selecting a background colour for studio shoots too. When outdoors, clearly the predominant background colours will be greens in Spring and Summer, and more muted reds, yellows and browns in Autumn and Winter. For seasonal portraits such as Christmas you may wish to pick a more wintery or seasonal outfit.

5. Layer up. If you decide on an outfit that layers, like a shirt and waistcoat this can give the option of different looks throughout the shoot (depending on session length). If you choose to layer, remember to pick layers that don’t look messy against each other. It is not essential to layer. Be mindful of the ambient temperature, especially if we are doing an outdoors shoot, you may start with the layers on and remove them as we get warmer and more active. When we shoot at my studio location, there is a heater on hand in case it gets cold.

6. Texturise. Bringing a small amount of texture or pattern into outfits is a great way of creating depth. Think about knits, crochets, ribbons, ruffles, tweeds etc. Be careful with too much pattern and texture so it does not distract. Generally, I’d recommend two or three textures and patterns in total across the group, and not more than one pattern per person. There are lots of examples outfit mood boards on my Pinterest boards.

7. Avoid branding. Branding and logos tend to draw the eye and distract from the portrait. The same goes for characters and graphics on clothing. Plain / simple patterned fabrics (as detailed above) work best.

8. Shoes and socks. In the studio we remove all shoes and socks. The soles of bare feet are much more attractive! For outdoors shoots shoes can play a big role in an outfit! Try to coordinate shoes with the outfit. Statement shoes are good if they complement the outfit, otherwise try to go for shoes that don’t draw attention. If the whole outfit is very simple and muted, then consider the statement piece being the socks themselves. If we are going to a location which could be muddy, think about wellies which we can make a feature of. Avoid white / light shoes.

9. Accessorise without distracting. Accessories are a great way of bringing a little more interest to an image - feel free to bring some with you. Think about accessories that complement the clothing e.g. a scarf that suits the outfit.

10. Sleeve lengths. For a more casual look, short sleeves or sleeveless tops work well. If you are going for a more formal look, avoid sleeveless tops. 

11. Neck lines. If you have broad shoulders and/or a wide body, v-necks will tend to particularly suit you, as they lengthen the body. 

12. Shooting for black and white portraits? Avoid wearing red. 

13. Choose timeless over dated. Consider the lifespan of the portrait. I always recommend picking clothing that won’t date quickly... unless you’re looking to timestamp your photos with today’s fashions! Classic, timeless clothing will stand the test of time and give your portraits a timeless feel.

Any questions? Just get in touch or add a comment below. 

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