How to Prepare for Your Portrait
Even though cameras are everywhere these days (you probably have one within arm’s reach right now, right?), that doesn’t mean we’re always comfortable in front of them. Particularly if there’s a professional photographer behind the camera.
Probably the best way to get comfortable for your photo shoot is to prepare. Here are some tips that can help get you ready, and minimize stress during your shoot (for both you and the photographer!):
- Wear clothes in which you feel comfortable.
- Keep the tonal range of clothing in the same group; don’t mix lights & darks in the same outfit. Solid colors generally work best.
- Dark to medium colors will help to make you look thin and work well with dark backgrounds.
- Medium to light colors look the best on lighter colored backgrounds.
- Earth tones are good for outdoor portraits.
- Be sure the clothes you select fit properly; loose clothing may make you look larger, while tight clothing can bulge or distort.
- Bring several outfits; coordinate your outfit from head to toe. Bring all clothes on hangers. Be sure clothes are not wrinkled.
- Select 2-3 complementing solid colors; avoid large prints, stripes, busy patterns and bright colors.
- A black shirt or top is often a good choice.
- Bring appropriate shoes, socks and a belt (if appropriate) for each outfit.
- If you plan to wear a tie, bring an appropriate jacket or business suit.
- For executive portraits, be sure your clothes are appropriate for your type of work and clothes are clean and pressed. Men may wish to bring multiple ties; women may wish to bring multiple accessories.
- Each person in a group portrait should be dressed in a similar color or tonal range.
Hair and Jewelry
- Bring appropriate jewelry for each outfit, but keep jewelry simple and to a minimum; you are the focus of the portrait, not your jewelry.
- Wear your hair in your normal style.
- Do not change your hairstyle immediately before your portrait session; schedule your haircut/styling a week before your portrait session.
- Neatly trim your beard/mustache, or have a good clean shave a couple hours before the photo shoot.
- Bring any hair care/styling products that might be needed for touch-up.
Skin, Make-up, Etc.
- Avoid sunburn and tan lines.
- Minor blemishes and scars usually can be removed in the retouching process.
- Women keep make-up simple and natural; avoid makeup with sparkles. You may want to bring your makeup to the session.
- Your nails will show in some portraits. Be sure fingernails and toenails are clean and polished.
- If you wear glasses, wear them. Keep in mind, that the highly reflective nature of glasses can create some problems, so you may want some images without the glasses as well, though your photographer can work with you to minimize any reflections or distractions caused by the glasses. If available, an identical set of frames without glass is great!
- If the shoot is on location, be sure to bring a small mirror.
Your photographer should point out any issues with your hair or clothing, but unless the shoot includes a stylist, fixing these issues will be your responsibility.
Finally, be sure to choose a photographer with whom you feel comfortable. Talk to them about their style, get a feel for their personality, and look at their portfolio to get a feel for their vision. Share with the photographer your ideas, or other portraits that you really like. Be sure all the business details — including price, timing, props, locations, photo delivery, etc. — are clear before the shoot.
With all of that taken care of both you and the photographer can concentrate on getting the best images without distraction. Relax, be yourself, and let your personality shine through the images. In the end, that’s what all this is about!