What to wear:
- The darker the suit, the more professional you’ll appear. The psychology behind the colour black–and other dark hues– is usually associated with being powerful and commanding respect, which is generally what most companies or law firms want their employees to look like.
- However, that does not mean you need to wear all black. If you have black hair, an all-black outfit can make your face seem as though it’s floating freely against a dark sky.
- Simple is best for professional portraits. Think about clean lines when choosing your suit. Your face, not your outfit, is the most important asset you will have to project your image as trustworthy and competent.
- Do wear flattering clothing that fit well and colours that are good for your complexion.
- Dark, solid colours or with subtle variations; vertical pleats; V-necks (so long as they are not too revealing); and long chains all have slimming effects.
What NOT to wear:
- No white or light beige/pastel shirts without a jacket. White will reflect the light and be distracting. Unless you’re a chef or a doctor, don’t wear all white!
- No bold patterns–whether on a shirt, tie or jacket. This will distract from your face and, in a group, bold patterns take away a sense of cohesiveness. Also, if the image is going to be used online, bold patterns can create an optical illusion that’s unpleasant. (Technically, it’s called a moiré pattern.)
- No bold/very shiny jewelry or big watches for men. These will distract from the face in an individual portrait and distract from the others in a group photo.
- Colours to avoid: pastels, purple as the main colour (it can be lovely as an accent), greens if you have yellow undertones to your skin as green can make skin tones appear pale and unhealthy looking, multi-coloured and busy patterns, and bright red as the main colour (again, dark reds appear more sophisticated in a photo while brighter reds work best as accents).
- Do dress in a similar colour palette: if one person wears a bright colour or bold pattern, then that person will seem separate from the group. It will also be distracting from the others.
- Do talk to each other (or email) before the photo shoot so you can coordinate your outfits. You don’t all have to wear the same colour, but colours in the same family in different shades, for example, can work nicely.
- When it comes to business group portraits, the idea is to look professional but approachable. The portrait should show camaraderie and unity. So the suggestion for group portraits is similar colours.
- Women, a string of pearls is classic, a bold gold necklace shows style and panache, and a striking scarf –that provides one accent colour and that doesn’t have a distracting pattern–is a way to express your creativity while bringing the focus of the portrait up towards the face and away from the chest.
- Men, conservative is generally best and less distracting from your face.
- Exception: if the portrait is being taken for an article on up-and-coming entrepreneurs, a watch can give the portrait a creative edge. Use your best judgment when it comes to accessories, gentlemen.
Important for Women and Men
If your session is scheduled for later in the day, there are a couple of extra things you may want to bring with you and have on hand if needed.
- Women, make sure to have any hair styling products to “freshen” up your hair and especially if it’s a windy day. Also bring along your make-up to reapply if needed…especially lipstick. (avoid any red lipstick colours…they tend to be overpowering and if your image needs to be converted to a Black & White image, your lips will appear very dark)
- Men, don’t forget to shave in the morning, even if you have a beard there are areas of your face that may need to be shaved. Bring an electric shaver with your to your session (this way there is no chance of getting any cuts) to take care of that 5 o’clock shadow. You know your face best. Sometimes you may even need to shave if your appointment is late morning. Also bring along any hair products if needed for a last minute touch-up.
The colour red–as in, a bright, stop-sign red–is generally discouraged in business portraits. In family portraits, it shows warmth and comfort, but in business, a bright red shirt or jacket is viewed as aggressive and abrasive.
If the company you work for has specific photo guidelines such as file size, file type and background requirements, it’s preferable to email those to me in advance. At the least, please bring them with you to the session so we can create the business portrait specific to you and your companies needs. I understand that your time is valuable and this way I can be set up and ready to go when you arrive.