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 1266 (Don’t get outlandish): Fashion can be fickle, with something being appropriate for one season being totally inappropriate for another season. But once in a while, something will come along that works for one season, and the rest of the time, you wonder about why such ugly clothes were in a trend and the only emotion that comes up when viewing portraits where you are decked out in such clothes is to try and change the topic. So, when you are shooting a portrait that you intend to view even years later, don’t go overboard in using the current fashion, instead use clothes that seem to last years even if they are not the highest word in current fashion.

Tip 1267 (Clothes and perceived body size): This tip is about something that is a bit more subtle, about how the color of clothes can make it appear as if you have suddenly lost a bit of flab, or gained some weight (this will not reduce tens of kg’s in your photo, but can result in some small perception changes). Darker clothes tend to make it seem as if the subject has become slender, while white and lighter colors may have the usual effect, with the body seeming to have gained a bit of weight.

Tip 1268 (Select accessories carefully): Accessories can make a lot of difference to a photo, so select those carefully as well. For example, the proper selection of purses, bags, clutches, jewellery, watches, all of these can add or detract from the overall portrait, with even the color of these causing small changes to the portrait. If you have a striking accessory that draws attention, then consider that even in the final portrait, viewer attention might be attraction to the same accessory. If possible, before proceeding for the portrait, keep all the clothes together with these accessories so that you can get a quick feel if whether something fits or not.

Tip 1269 (Sleeves being to the elbow or to the wrist): This may again seem strange, but it follows from previous tips. When the sleeves are short and more of the skin of the arm is shown, viewer attention shifts to the arm, and the funny thing is, when more of the arm is shown, the exposed portion of the arm seems thicker and larger than one which has been covered under a longer sleeve (of course, if you have a slender or attractive body, then such rules would not follow).

Tip 1270 (Restrict the fancy jewelery): So you have some fancy jewelry and want to show it off. Keep in mind that when people look at a portrait where you are wearing the same kind of jewelry, their attention will first go to the jewelry, and then some time later, come to your face. So if you want people to look at your face in the portrait, keep the jewlery simple and elegant and lay off the large or garish styles.

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

Read more such tips in the next post (Clothes for the portrait)

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