One of the things we will talk about before the day of your shoot is what to wear. 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 this. The human eye is drawn to the area of greatest contrast in a photograph and this contrast can take many forms.
Most people think of contrast in terms of light and dark. Put something light on a dark background and your eye will automatically focus on it. But there are many other forms of contrast that must be considered when making clothing choices.
Color can be another type of contrast equally as eye catching as light and dark tones, but the draw or force behind it is more subtle. Most people think of red as being a "hot" color and blue as being a "cool" color. Trying to mix the two in a photograph can be tricky. For example, if everyone in a photograph is wearing shades of one color and you are wearing something decidedly different, you will be the center of attention whether you like it or not. And it’s not just the color you have to think about but the tonality of the color as well.
Another type of contrast can be seen in the use of shapes such as stripes, circles, squares, etc. For example if everyone in your photo is wearing a solid color and you wear the same color but with a plaid pattern, you once again will be the center of attention. Think of patterns. If patterns are all the same, all is good. As soon as a pattern is broken, the eye is drawn to that area. The human brain automatically wonders, “Why is this happening?” “What’s the point?” In reality there may be no point. It could just be an unintentional break in the pattern.
From a photographic standpoint we can use these elements of contrast to determine where the focus of an image should be. Where do we want the viewer to look? In most cases, it's at the subject's face first, then possible other parts of the image.
So here’s my suggestion. First, think about the mood you want to project. Easy going, comfortable, relaxed… then I’d suggest going with earth tones or pastels. Jeans, slacks, or khakis are a good choice for this type of photo. Want something more sophisticated or mysterious? Dark clothes are an obvious choice. If it's for a corporate need, business attire would probably be the appropriate choice.
If there’s more than one person in the photograph, think of harmonious colors that are in the same tonal range. When more than one person is going to be in a photograph clear communication is a necessity for clothing choices. Unless the group is very large (where just about every color will be represented and the randomness of color will represent a uniform pattern) it’s best to have a plan in advance and talk about it with everyone involved. And don’t take anything for granted. I once had a shoot where everyone was supposed to wear blue denim. Three people wore blue denim and one person arrived in a teal silk blouse. Hopefully I've explained this well enough so you can see where this would create an issue with continuity within the photograph, unless the intent was to make this person the center of attention.
If you have any questions or concerns about what to wear let's talk about it prior to your shoot. And I always suggest to clients that they bring a couple of options to wear just in case things look a little different in a photographic setting than at home.
If you'd like some additional information on colors and the mood they project, I've added more information here.