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Ideas for Clothing

Monday, August 10, 2015   |   News
Day 5 of the challenge - how can I help you with a problem? One thing I know people often have a hard time figuring out is clothing for pictures - whether these are professionally taken or you are having a family gathering and want to capture everyone together. 
 
So here are a few pointers to bear in mind: 
 
Faces in a family portrait should be the first thing you notice. But clothing sometimes competes for the viewer's attention. Clothing that simplifies a group portrait is usually made up of all lighter tones, or all darker tones, not a mix of the two. 
 
A common mistake is mixing dark tops with light bottoms, or visa-versa. This can create a high contrast, "busy" scene, especially with larger groups. 
 
Choose a palette of 3-4 colors and mix it up, including both pants and dresses. You want a cohesive feel, but without being overly "matchy-matchy". Picture a page in a clothing catalog where everyone coordinates, but nobody stands more than the rest. Light clothes look better on lighter backgrounds, and dark clothes look better on darker backgrounds. Also consider the time of year, what are the locations colors, and pick things that compliment the setting. Also if you are planning on a large piece of wall art from the images then make sure the clothes and setting compliment the room you plan to hang your art in. Or you may well find yourself repainting the living room! 
 
A few other generic pointers: Sleeveless shirts and shorts on adults tend not to flatter, but layered clothing is fabulous. Save strong patterns and contrasting colors for areas you want to feature, like young children in the group. Otherwise choose solid fabrics of slightly varying tone. 
 
The image below shows consideration of the season (fall) nobody is too match match, but everyone looks great together.

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Where to start?!! 
 
Begin with a neutral theme 
For a classic look start with solid fabrics. Add a little pattern and splashes of color with the children's outfits and accessories on the adults (scarf, shawl, cardigan, hat, etc). 
 
Do not mix dark and light tops and bottoms. Especially in larger groups. Mixing darks and lights creates a busy look. Keeping the entire group in darker tones or all in lighter tones simplifies and draws attention to the faces. 
 
To slenderize 
Dark clothing tends to slenderize, especially against darker backdrops. Long sleeves and dark stockings also slenderize and simplify. 
 
Below this family had a basic neutral grey palette but then sparked it up with some splashes of purple... and Lisa got her new purple shoes!!

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For a Natural Look 
Sweaters and other long-sleeved knits help you look relaxed. Layered tops add depth and dimension. Jeans are great because they allow us to sit people on the ground. For outdoor portraits, autumn colors, or jewel tones work better than pastels. 
 
For a Formal Group 
For a stunning formal portrait, start with a blend of rich, understated colors, not too "matchy". Add a little dark-on dark pattern in accessories. Don't be afraid to spice it up with a color splash, over-the-top fabrics, necklines and jewelry. Darker tones work well to simplify the overall look. 
 

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In the studio setting the background is often so neutral in my sittings that we really decide at the consult what the purpose of the session will be and the best clothing and way to photograph to make this happen. The final image below shows a wonderful mother and daughter image, the colors compliment but don't compete and we still look straight at their faces first. 
 
A final tip - before you decide for sure that you have it all figured out! 
 
Try this: Lay out everyone's clothing together in the room where your portrait will live. Replace outfits and add accessories until you achieve a fresh and exciting look for that room. 
 
I hope this helps!
 Crackle

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