November 2013
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5 Photo Tips – Shooting portraits – Clothes for the portrait (contd..)

This is a new series of posts that I am doing on portraits, with the current set of posts focusing on color. The last such post (Colors of dresses and seasons) was about the color of dresses worn by subjects as a part of portraits and the correlation with the ongoing season.
When you think about portraits, you might think about getting a tripod for some rock-stable shots, about posing, about checking for light / exposure, whether to use Prime or Zoom lenses, or so on. All of these are important, but it is also important to understand the overall environment related to portraits – this could be the color of the environment, this could be the types of clothes being worn, and so on. However, a fair warning is that once you get into subjective parameters, opinions could change, the requirements could change, and so on, so change and twist these tips below into the way you want. And of course, some of this also varies depending on whether you are just doing this at a strictly amateur level and don’t care too much about the results, or are experimenting with portraits and want to tweak the settings. So here goes:

Tip 1261 (Patterns in clothes to be avoided): As mentioned in previous tips, the obvious aim in portraits is to ensure that most attention goes to the face, and any other point in the photo that draws viewer attention can be distracting. One of the items that can be distracting is when there is some pattern in the dress(es) that are being worn during the portrait; such a pattern can very easily draw the attention of the viewer and take this attention away from the face.

Tip 1262 (Limit the number of clothing changes): During the portraits, dress changes lead to different looks during the portrait, and by selecting different such dresses, one can make the portrait session interesting and eventually lead to some portraits which achieve the intended effect. However, it also needs to be kept in mind that photography is a work of art, and if there are too many dress changes, it can become disconcerting for the photographer, which in turn means that photos taken start reducing in their quality.

Tip 1263 (Comfort level): You need to be comfortable with the clothes that you are wearing for the portrait; suppose you have been advised that a tie and jacket will be great for the session, but if you are really not comfortable with a tie, such a reduced level of comfort can show up in the portrait.

Tip 1264 (Top be lighter than the bottom in term of clothes): What does this tip mean ? Well, it means that when the subject is going to have a photo taken where the full body is shown, then it makes sense to avoid a situation where there is some amount of viewer focus going on the jeans / trouser / skirt / etc rather than the face. To ensure that this happens, it makes sense to avoid the top being darker than the bottom of the dress; turn that around, it means that when you are wearing a jacket and jeans for example, the jacket should be lighter than the jeans.

Tip 1265 (Look for the eventual placement location of the portraits): Another seemingly strange tip, but can make a different to the final look. If you can figure out early enough about the location where the portrait is going to be placed / hung, then try and match the clothes that are going to be worn with the color scheme of the location where the portrait is going to be placed. This actually enhances the final feel of the portrait.

Gregory Heisler: 50 Portraits Family Portrait Photography 95 Inspiring Ideas for Photographing Your Friends

Some videos from youtube on Portraits:

Portrait Photography : How to Dress for a Portrait Sitting

Portrait Photography with Graham Monro

Natural light 50mm portrait photography

Direction of Light: Your Key to Better Portrait Photography

5 Min Portrait – Portrait Photography Full Photo Shoot

See more tips in the next such post (Portraits and colors)

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