Before Your Shoot
Your choice of clothing can have a dramatic effect on the overall success of your portrait session. If there’s one rule to remember about clothing it’s that the human eye is drawn to the area of greatest contrast.
Most people think of contrast in terms of light and dark. But there are many other forms of contrast that must be considered when making clothing choices.
Color can create contrast equally as eye catching as light and dark tones. For example, if everyone in a photograph is wearing shades of one color and you are wearing something very different, you will be the center of attention whether you like it or not.
Another type of contrast can be seen in clothing patterns such as stripes, plaids, or solids. If everyone in your photo is wearing a solid color and you wear the same color in a plaid pattern, you once again will be the center of attention. When patterns are all the same, all is good. As soon as a pattern is broken, the eye is drawn to that area.
Here’s my suggestion. First, think about the mood you want to project. If it’s easy going, comfortable or relaxed… then I’d suggest going with earth tones or pastels in a solid color. Jeans, slacks, or khakis are a good choice for this type of photo. Want something more sophisticated or mysterious? Darker tones work well.
If there’s more than one person in the photograph, think of harmonious colors that are in the same tonal range. Clear communication is a necessity when more than one person is going to be in a photograph when it comes to clothing choices. It’s best to have a plan in advance and talk about it with everyone involved.
If you have any questions or concerns about what to wear let's talk about it prior to your shoot. When in doubt, bring a couple of options to wear just in case things look a little different in a photographic setting than at your home.
If you'd like some additional information on colors and the mood they project, I've added more information here.
What Mood Does Color Represent?
This is a very brief overview of colors and the moods they can project. If you're seriously interested in this topic a simple internet search will lead you to more in-depth discussions.
Red is a very strong color that evokes powerful emotions such as passion, energy, and assertiveness. Red is a good color to use for accents when you want to draw attention to a certain area. Want to get noticed in a picture, wear red.
Orange is a combination of Red and Yellow. It is a warm color that represents fire, the sun, fun, warmth and tropical images. A darker, richer shade of orange is associated with autumn and is a good choice for fall pictures.
Yellow, is the brightest color to the human eye. It represents, fun, happiness, sunshine and a feeling of playfulness. It is a cheerful energetic color. It’s also used on a lot of warning signs and caution tape so if you want to stick out, yellow could be your color.
Green is the color of nature and health. It represents growth, nature, money, fertility and safety. Green is a relaxing color that is easy on the eye and is believed to have healing powers. It is often used to represent anything having to do with health.
Blue is a cool calming color that shows creativity and intelligence. It is a color of loyalty, strength, wisdom and trust. Blue is a color that generally looks good in almost any shade and on most people. It is one of the most popular colors.
Purple combines the stability of blue and the energy of red. Throughout history purple has been associated with royalty, nobility and prestige. It symbolizes mystery, magic, power and luxury. Purple combined with gold can be portray wealth and extravagance.
Brown represents wholesomeness, steadfastness, simplicity, and dependability. The color brown and its lighter cousins in tan, taupe, beige, and cream make accompanying colors appear richer or brighter. Brown conveys a feeling of warmth, and friendliness.
Black is a very powerful color that portrays class, elegance and wealth. Classic clothing lines are designed in black from the "power suit" to the "little black dress". Black is a color that can fit into almost any color scheme to add contrast, and make other colors stand out. Combining black clothing with light skin tones will capture the viewer's attention.
White is often associated with being honest, pure, innocent, clean, or fresh. Historically Hollywood often portrayed characters associated with the color white as being "good", such as “Snow White”, or a cowboy wearing a white hat.