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 1281 (Clothes do a lot in terms of presenting a person): The clothes that the subject of a portrait photo wears does a lot to convey the personality of the person. For example, consider a middle aged army officer; how likely is that you will take a portrait of such a person wearing loose fitting clothes, ones that are seen as street clothes. Even if taking a photo of such a person is not being done while wearing the service uniform, in most cases, such folks would be comfortable shooting photos wearing smart and formal clothes. At the same time, this can be taken to the reverse, where a person might want to break an image, so if you shoot the same officer wearing a colorful short and bermuda shorts, the image and personality that appears at the first impression is totally different.

Tip 1282 (Be careful with slacks or jeans that are too tight): Many people are comfortable wearing tight-fitting jeans or slacks, and yet one needs to be careful while taking photos. If the cloth is too tight against the stomach / abdomen area, there is a disturbance in the profile of the body at that point (consider when you push something against a balloon, the area surrounding the pushed area can suddenly even bulge out), which can be noticeable in the final photo. Alternatives are not to wear such clothes, or too ensure that the shots that are taken somehow camouflage this change in the body outline. However, if these tight clothes are making the subject somewhat uncomfortable, one may need to get these changed.

Tip 1283 (Black is slimming, but need to control the entire shot): It is unanimous that wearing black can have a major contribution in making a person seem somewhat slim in the photo, it can be a god-send when you have to ensure that the persons being shot look slimmer than they are (if however they are too hefty, then even this magic caused by wearing black clothes cannot help). But, you do need to control the overall composition of the shot, including the background. Ideal portraits with black clothes come out well when the background is also made a bit dark, or even when you convert the image into a Black and White photo.

Tip 1284 (Study your own photos): A lot of people do not even realize that they can do a lot of learning just by looking at their own database. For somebody who has been doing a lot of portrait photography, they would have a large number of photos in different backgrounds, different age profile of subjects, different setting, and so on. It can take time, but it would be most useful to review one’s own database to identify the portrait photos that have come out well, some of the factors that made the photo seem better, what were the exposure and camera settings and so on. This can take time, but it can lead to a lot of learning.

Tip 1285 (Look out for color differences between group members): This one was interesting. There was a group of couples shot at a holiday resort, and there were people hugging, or arms interlocked, and so on, presenting a great picture of people enjoying themselves at a retreat away from home. However, what was disconcerting was that even though a lot of color was involved (and even welcomed), when you have a couple with hands inter-locked, a hand dressed in blue right next to a hand dressed in red proved to be quite distracting. Somehow, the color matching in terms of couples was not done; post this, in portrait sessions, have always requested subjects to get alternate clothes of different colors, so that a good matching can be done.

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 some more tips in the next post in the series (Clothes and other stuff for portraits)

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