Mike Mahoney Photography

It's been said that clothes make the person. Probably not... but they often make the portrait. When planning for a portrait session stick to these 10 tips when deciding what to wear and you'll be on your way to awesome portraits.

  1. Be comfortable: Good pictures will require a certain comfort level from you, the subject. If you are scared of losing your balance in high heels or sweating under that polyester shirt then good pictures are going to be harder to come by. Stick to clothes you like, that build your confidence and are functional and comfortable.
  2. Clothes are a statement: Outfit changes are the norm in a portrait shoot so mix it up with some clothing options that will make for more fun, sassy portraits. Bring along other outift options that are more formal to ensure a more broad choice of pictures showcasing the various parts of your personalities.
  3. Keep it simple: Dark, plain fabrics usually work best. Avoid crazy patterns, designs and logos too. Clothing with distinct lines, dots and bright patterns can be troublesome too. Same goes for shiny fabrics. Keep your jewelry choices simple and minimal.
  4. Avoid short sleeves and shorts: Long sleeves and pants are the superior choice. Skin tones can vary a bunch on various legs and arms not to mention the lighter complexion can distract the eye when viewing the pictures. However, I've shot some beautiful photos with the subject wearing a tank top and shorts... it all depends on the subject.
  5. Not too many choices and changes: You should feel welcome to have a few clothing changes but don't overwhelm yourself and your photographer with choices. It takes a little time for your photographer to get the creative ball rolling. Stopping for multiple outfit changes can disrupt that process.
  6. Ask before wearing whites: Yes, dark solid print clothes are generally better, but rules are made to be broken. Talk with your photographer before the shoot if you are considering a white shirt. It can look awesome in certain kinds of backgrounds and environments so let your photographer know and they will be better prepared to make excellent photos.
  7. Props: If you're passionate about a hobby or sport, bring items that relate to it. Play a musical instrument? Bring it! Bring along a few items that reveal unique aspects of your life. Feel free to talk it over before the session with your photographer.
  8. Suitability to locations, or not: If you and your photographer are hiking about on nature trails to get to your locations then you will want to consider clothing that is practical and appropriate for that surrounding. Or, for a little extra contrast, maybe really dress it up with a suit and tie for him and wonderful dress for her to strike a visual contrast with the rustic surroundings. Again, talk with your photographer beforehand about such ideas and get their input. A little planning always helps.
  9. Classic, timeless styles: Great pictures last a long, long time so be sure your clothing choices will age gracefully.
  10. Hats, scarves and accessories for that extra "touch" to your portrait: These are items can add a little flair to your portrait and are easily changed to create a different look.

Following these guidelines will help with the mystifying task of selecting what to wear for your portrait session. But remember, photography is a creative collaboration. So some rules are made to be broken.