Individual + Family

What is the best thing that you can do to make your portrait look amazing…plan what everyone will be wearing in the portrait.  They say, “the clothes make the (person)”.  The craft of portrait photography is to capture not only the best view, or features of the subject, but also the personality and mood. It is a person’s eyes and face that tell the story of their personality. (Including body language in ¾ and full-length portraits).  So, the goal of clothing in a portrait is to flatter the subject(s), and influence the mood of the portrait.

I strongly encourage an image consultation, where I can show you samples of what works and what doesn’t in terms of clothing.  We can also look at which location/background your portraits will be taken, which will also determine what you should wear.

As a rule (and there are always exceptions to rules), simpler is better.


What is the purpose of the portrait?  If the purpose is to show off your cool threads, then by all means, deck yourself out.  But if you want the focus to be you as a person, then here are some suggestions:

  • Wear something that makes you feel like you look awesome!  If you feel uncomfortable with how you’re dressed, you will not exude the confidence you want in front of the camera.
  • Darker colours are more flattering and slimming.  Pretty much a general observation is that people look better in dark colours than they do in light ones.
    • Light tones in clothing, bright and cheery though they are, are not necessary for a portrait to have a bright and cheery look.
    • It is also true that dark clothing will not necessarily present a somber mood. Again, it is the eyes and facial expression that dominate and tell the story. In photographic portraiture, the fact that light colours diminish shadows produces the result that the figure appears slightly fuller.
    • Very light or white clothes can tend to wash out your skin tone. The opposite is true with dark toned clothes: they intensify shadows, have a slightly slimming effect, and skin tones appear deeper.
  • Solid colours are less distracting and help people’s eyes focus on your face.  Avoid busy, high contrasting patterns or stripes.
  • Vertical lines are also slimming – think pleats or long jewelry.
  • Avoid the ‘latest’, ‘greatest’, “in” styles in favor of more timeless standards. That is, if you want your portrait to have a lasting quality and value, and not be too dated.
  • Women: wear heels. It makes you look slimmer and sexier as well as reducing the inclination to slouch.
  • Loose fitting, long sleeves will draw attention away from your arms. If you feel your arms are too big, or you have blotchy skin or band-aids on your arms, wear long, loose fitting sleeves.
  • An open, scoop or V-neck shirt or blouse will add the appearance of length to your neck, where a crew or turtleneck will give the appearance of a shorter neck.
  • For a family portrait, make sure the colours coordinate and that one person’s outfit isn’t going to make them stand out from the rest. We suggest picking 3 colours for the family to wear. Just try to avoid high contrast like black & white or brown & pale pink.
  • Think about where you’re going to hang the portraits in your home. Make sure the colour choices won’t clash with your décor.


  • Ladies, just do what you do normally in applying your makeup, as if preparing for an evening out on the town: tastefully a little stronger than for daytime.  It’s a good idea to bring all your makeup to the session along with some tissues and cold cream.
  • Men will tend to skip right over this while women will zoom in…MEN: before by-passing this whole topic, look in a mirror at your face.  What colour is your skin?  How’s the complexion?  Circles under the eyes?  Are your nose and forehead shiny?  You want to look your best in your portrait, and it’s perfectly OK for men to blotter the forehead, put a little powder on for portraits.  Even a little lightener under the eyes or blush on the cheeks!


  • Make sure your hair is clean and styled the way you want it when you get to the session.  Bring your brush, comb, spray, gel, whatever you might need to re-do it!  If your hair needs to be cut before the session, have it done at least a week prior to having your portraits made.  If you are having your hair styled specifically for the session, have it done just before coming to the studio or photo session location.

If you would like to have the services of a hair and makeup artist to help you prepare for your portraits, let me know. I have previous working relationships with some of the best in Winnipeg who work on an independant contractor basis.