Dressing and personal grooming tips for that “perfect look”.

One of the most common questions I’m asked when I get called into a project (portraits, advertising, workplace etc.) is, “What should I wear?”  For the most part, the answer is simple. Wear what you would wear if you are meeting the viewer of the website/magazine/signage in person. If there are several different types of people viewing the image, dress for the audience that will impact your business the most … or to whom the business use of the image is aimed. 

But, as they say, the devil is in the details. Opt for something to wear that is a comfortable style for you. That doesn’t mean formal dress is out. Many business people, especially those who work in a formal business environment, feel more at ease in a tie and suit. So, if it fits the image purpose, a white shirt, dark suit and dark tie are perfectly acceptable. However, physical comfort as well as the attractiveness of the final product is largely influenced by the actual fit of your clothing. So please choose apparel that fits your body correctly.

Tasteful and subtle is usually best, but “Bold and Dramatic” can work as well if that is appropriate for your company and is the message you want to convey. In fact, a small but significant sample of bold color can improve the composition of an otherwise subtle or monochromatic image.  And there is an entire spectrum of boldness you may opt for so you can choose to be bold, “tastefully.” That being said, big patterns usually don’t look good in the final image because they tend to dominate the frame, taking attention away from the primary subject (such as the person’s face) and overwhelm any subtle background cues we are trying to convey. Large and colorful jewelry or scarves can distract from the main focal point as well.

As far as color and smaller patterns go, there is great flexibility. Make sure the color you choose complements your complexion, but contrasts enough so background, jackets, skin tone, etc. don’t “blend” into the clothing.  Stripes don’t have to be avoided, but in cases where the background is complex, the background images may have to be blurred a bit. Whites and blacks used to be avoided in photography because they were somewhat difficult to capture on film.  This is no longer the case, so avoiding them is no longer necessary. 

With regard to grooming, men, shave or groom your facial hair, carefully, on the day or the shoot. Major haircuts, hair re-styling, or mustache and beard reshaping should be avoided as much as possible in the days immediately before a photo shoot. Likewise, any major procedure on your skin, such as a chemical peel, should be held off until after the session. Finally, dramatic makeup should be reserved for non-business purposes.  Photography doesn’t need additional makeup to accentuate facial features. Your best bet is to wear what you do in a regular business environment and let me use my camera and post-production expertise take care of the rest.

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