November 2013
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5 Photo Tips – Shooting portraits – Colors and seasons

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 series (Colors of dresses and portraits) was about the color of dresses worn by subjects as a part of portraits and the effect that this may have on the portraits. 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 1246 (Looking for colors of clothes to fit the seasons): At a very simple level, each season is best suited by a different set of colors. If you puzzle over this, don’t you already see this all around you ? Sprint comes with a lot of color, while dull / overcast / rainy weather comes with its darker variety, and when you have ice on the ground, white seems to be the color that is best suited (and of course, this is a very simplistic statement of color with seasons, but you should get some idea of what we are talking about with this statement).

Tip 1247 (Hotter seasons): The relation between color and seasons is not just about how it looks, but also plays to feelings and emotions. When you are in an environment where the summer can be hot, taking portraits where people are wearing black can even make the viewer of the photograph uncomfortable, and the subject, can also be more uncomfortable wearing black since black absorbs heat a lot, and this heat can make the subject more uncomfortable.

Tip 1248 (Summer clothes): So, if it is summer and you have choices in terms of colors to wear for portraits, what colors would you pick ? Well, if you leave aside small children (who anyhow look much better wearing darker colors), the colors of choice to wear in summer (of the hot kind) are the brighter varieties of green and red, and almost all shades of blue (except for the really dark shades). Also, some pastel colored clothes look great in the summer as well, and can really appeal to the viewers of the photo.

Tip 1249 (Autumn means rich colors): Autumn is more like an inbetween season (although this is being unfair to autumn, given that is long enough and beautiful enough to be counted as a season in its own right). When you get to autumn, the brighter shades of summer should be ditched, after all, you are starting the transition to winter, so go more for the colors that seem rich. For example, these could be colors such as wine, maroon, darker shades of green, as well as colors such as tangerine. These colors gel well with the overall look outside, where there is a lot of color that is not dark, but in most cases, not very bright as well (and of course, this also varies with the location, since winter can be pleasant in some areas and downright brutal in other areas).

Tip 1250 (Winter, the time of black, but should experiment): Winter is the time when the heat of the sun is the minimum. At such times, the logical thing to do is to wear darker colors so that they can absorb the limited amount of sunlight and provide warmth (and when viewers see these, they can quickly make the association that such colors are typical of winter). However, it need not be black only, with darker colors such as brown, and in a twist, even colors such as white and silver also stand out.

The idea of this post drawing a relation between colors of dresses and the season is to use whatever techniques possible to make the portrait better. And herein lies the rub – ‘Better’ is a very subjective word, and you might feel very different from what I have written above.

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 about this topic in the next post (Clothes and portraits)

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