3 Top Tips to Style your Wardrobe Before Your Photoshoot
2018/03/15 · Photoshoot Advice, Styling Tips
Every single client I talk to during our pre-photoshoot consultation inevitably asks me the same question: What should I wear?
My answer varies from client to client, because I can tell during our styling consultation that each has a different personality and vision for the photoshoot. Even so, here are my 3 top tips for styling your wardrobe before your photoshoot.
1- Coordinate outfit color with background (tone on tone)
Recently I have been doing a lot of portrait sessions in the studio with a set variety of backdrops and background colors, but the same principle applies to on-locatio, outdoor sessions (which I have done and still do if the client prefers). When it comes to a truly styled image, subtlety and control come to mind, even when the shots are candid and spontaneous, because a properly styled photoshoot is well thought out from its conception. This is why determining your background color is key to determining your outfit color--or vice versa.
Let's say, for example, that you have this gorgeous black dress you want to be photographed in. I would then recommend we use a black backdrop or a darker-toned location for the portraits (maybe a cool-textured urban wall, so that the overall colors and tones of the image in full is harmonious.) A golden wheat field, or a green field might clash a bit and compete with that gorgeous dress of yours.
In contrast, if you want to be photographed in a white shirt and jeans, I will immediatelly suggest either a white backdrop/wall, to keep things clean and airy, or a mid-toned backdrop, such as my blue-gray I have (or a concrete wall somewhere outside). It wouldn't make sense to be in a golden wheat-field wearing denim and a white t-shirt.
But if you are going for a specific location you are really loving--let's say a golden wheat field (;)), what should you wear? Well, let's determine the tones in a golden wheat field at the time of day we would be shooting and see if we can find something to wear that matches those tones.
In my head, a wheat field has earthy, bold golden, brownish, off-white tones. In that case, maybe a bohemian-style, flowy ivory dress would fit better? (Note: Just because it's "golden" doesn't mean I would wear something shimmering gold like a sequin skirt, because a sparkly golden sequin skirt calls attention to itself and would compete with the textures in the background of wheat.) OR, you could consider adding a complement color to all that yellow. What about, then, a blue denim jumpsuit with a white lace crop top underneath, or a high-low solid sky blue dress with flared sleeves? What I am doing here is basically looking at the overall tones and colors to make a proper judgement of what will look its best.
Remember, in the end, the portrait is all about YOU, and NOT where you are at (that's why I love photographing in the studio!). Most of the portraits I shoot are cropped at the top of the head as opposed to environmental portraits. (Of course, if we do go to a location for your photoshoot I will make sure to capture the atmosphere!)
2- Let your body shape guide you on what to wear
Are you curvy, lean, pear-shaped, triangle-shaped, rectangle-shaped, or anything in between? My advice is to let your body shape guide you into what looks good on you.
For the curvier ladies, I usually suggest lower necklines/cleavage and tight-fitting tops so as to open up the face and create that diamond shape we are always looking for in posing women. I say tight-fitting because it actually makes it easier for me to pose you and shape your body in a flattering way, because more often than not, while a flowy top "hides" unwanted curves, they also leave you shapeless. In a photoshoot I am ALWAYS looking for shape, and I use my camera angles, cropping and composition (besides posing!) to get you looking your best. So even if that form-fitting top would not be your first pick, bring it to your photoshoot either way!
I, for once, am tall and slender, with pretty much an absence of curves. I found out I feel good about my body shape whenever I wear high-waisted slim pants and skirts, and more flowy tops (either tucked in or not)--almost never tight tops as I often felt too flat. However, in a recent quest for updating my wardrobe after having had my third baby three months ago, I realized that in spite of what I originally thought that wearing tight-fitting tops AND slim pants CAN enhance the little curve I have, if the details, sleeve type and necklines are just right.
What I plan to do is to create a more comprehensive guide of what looks good in each body type, but for now
here is my inspiration Pinterest board for your Style Guide.
3- “Less is more + 1” (Simplify your outfit, but don’t forget to add your own personal touch with accessories, etc)
Growing up I was the queen of matching top and bottom and not giving a second thought to anything else, but the day I realized the importance of that third piece it elevated my wardrobe by 30% (apparently 30% is a huge number--funny story: after giving birth to my first baby, my husband--an economist and numbers cruncher--told me his love and respect for me had grown by 30%. It totally crushed me, but I have forgiven him since then and now we laugh about it, all the while he has stopped quantifying intangible feelings ever since, LOL).
Here is the gyst: you basically make your "pairing": top+bottom. Then, whatever it is going to be, ADD A THIRD PIECE OF INTEREST. It can be awesome shoes, a great pair of dangling earings, a hat, scarf, headpiece...add something to take your outfit from zero to hero.
Of course, I am simplifying here, because sometimes you will have what is considered more than a mere "third piece". Sometimes it will be a combination of multiple things, depending on your style (bohemians: I am looking at you with all your bracelets and necklaces!). But it could BE as simple as your wedding ring or a VISUAL, compositional piece, such as a fly-away strand of hair--as long as that it adds interest to the image, anything will do!
Ultimately, when it comes to styling your wardrobe pieces for your portrait session, be sure to share your vision with your photographer and be open to ideas. Visually speaking, what you wear everyday is ultimately your own personal style, but it doesn't hurt to go a step further and have fun with an "upgraded", more polished outfit that coordinates with the backdrop (in the studio we match each outfit with a different backdrop and lighting set).
I always include a pre-session styling consultation where we either meet in person or talk over the phone about what you will wear, what you could potentially buy, borrow, rent or hack to achieve the final look. We can play dress up with your own closet or go shopping together--whatever it takes to style you just the way you want.