March 2014
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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 (Clothes for the portrait) was about the clothes worn in the photo session and accessories.
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 1271 (Getting focus to go the face): When shooting portraits, the aim of most photographers is to focus on the face, or rather, to ensure that the viewer attention quickly goes to the face. For this purpose, typically the face should be in contrast to the clothes; if the face is whiter, then clothes should not be of near the same color, or atleast have elements that are of darker colors. The same situation happens when the face is darker, in which the clothes should be lighter.

Tip 1272 (Cleavage): This one is a more sensitive tip, and not something that a lot of people prefer to focus about. For example, when taking a photo of women, it is necessary that the photographer and the subject both are comfortable with the amount of cleavage that gets shown. If a lady is uncomfortable with the amount of cleavage that is being shown, but is still going ahead with the photo, there is a strong possibility of some amount of discomfort coming out in the photo. Similarly, when the photographer is taking from an elevated position, there is a need to be sensitive about the increased amount of cleavage that is being shown. For this purpose, and if there is time, it would work best if the photographer shows the photo to the ladies and ensures that they are comfortable.

Tip 1273 (Text or colorful prints): For younger people, the concept of wearing clothes with prints or numbers (for example, wearing the jersey of your favorites sports team) is very strong. It is also needed to be understood that even though such clothes form a normal part of the cupboard of any person, the prints of numbers or text (or something similar) stand out in the photos, and can be jarring; at the minimum, they draw the eye to them rather than to the face of the person.

Tip 1274 (Making the neck look thick): Most people want to ensure that their necks don’t look thicker. But most people don’t realize that in a photo, the neck can look thicker if you are wearing clothes with a wide-open neckline. To prevent this from happening, the clothes that you need to wear for a portrait photo should be closer to the neck, coming right upto the neck. However, this also depends on the physique of the person, and the clothes that the person is wearing – the point is not to say that the person should wear high-neck clothes.

Tip 1275 (Think about footwear): When thinking about clothes to wear for portraits, a number of people don’t put the same attention to the footwear that they would wear. I have seen photos where the person is looking dapper, but the socks that were visible seemed totally out, to the extent that they could become jarring. Many portraits are actually full length photos, and it is important that some amount of time needs to be spent on deciding the footwear to go along with the clothes.

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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