What to Wear

You’ve Gotta ‘Do You’…


Ladies and Gents

There are some standard answers to this question that have been tried and tested over the centuries and proven successful.  A simple black shirt can be one of the most powerful ways to frame human expression. Or any single, block colour for that matter.  

My own personal stylistic preference?  The simpler, the better. I always want less distraction from the expressions we spend so much time developing.

But on the other hand, where would we be without fashion?  We use clothes to help fully express ourselves in the world each day. Obviously I appreciate self expression and would always steer you toward what is most honest and authentic.  If that means epic florals or crazy, colourful, geometric patterns… well, you’ve gotta do you***.

***disclaimer***  If you’re “going to do you” then I strongly suggest bringing along some simpler options… just in case.


Give it your best guess.  Bring lots of options.

 

Here’s a good example of what usually goes wrong.  

A lady came in a little while back with one of the most ‘boss’ suits I have ever seen.  She did a bit of public speaking and this was her very favourite piece. She said she felt like she had superpowers whenever she wore it.  We tested and found that the texture of it was hideous up-close, on camera. I stood there… looking at her in front of me… and then looking at the monitor with the test images…  and then back again. Neither of us could believe how different it looked On Camera (terrible) vs. In Real Life (amazing).

 

2 Frustrating Things You Should Know

1. Certain things look TERRIBLE on camera that you would never realise until you get into the light and test the outfit.  

Sometimes it’s our most expensive, favourite, most confidence-inspiring pieces that just sometimes just don’t work up-close, on camera.  It’s weird and it’s really hard to pick beforehand.

It can sometimes be as simple as a tighter knit…  or a looser knit, for that matter. It could be the way certain fabrics hold a structure that just doesn’t frame your face well for a few reasons…  It could be any tiny detail normally imperceptible outside the scrutiny of up close portraiture. It all comes down to the fabrics/ textures/ patterns/ fit & form.

It’s always best to bring lots of options.


2. Certain things look AMAZING on camera that you would never realise until you get into the light and test the outfit.

Sometimes it’s “that old thing” we’ve worn for years... It’s amazing how a piece of clothing can just become a part of us.  I’ve got a totally plain, dark dark grey, long sleeve, button shirt with a collar that is just… my shirt. I’ve had it for years.  It’s casual but dressy but simple. I wear it for anything and everything and somehow it just works. If I were being photographed, it would come with me.


 

Bonus Tip: I recommend bringing one piece that surprises you or makes you feel a little bit (more) outside your comfort zone. Something way more formal (or way less) than you would have realised… A bolder colour than you would have thought possible… Maybe it’s time to bring back the 80’s shoulder pads and you’re the one to restart the trend?  Who knows.

We see right away if it works or not.  If it doesn’t, we don’t waste our time exploring it further.  We just don’t use it. Try something else and move forward is the best way.  That’s why it’s good to have options.

 

Give it your best guess.  Bring lots of options.


Ladies.

1. We need to talk about your sleeves… well, more precisely the absence or presence of sleeves.  Especially in Headshots.

Don’t get me wrong here.  I’m not talking about “toned” vs. “tuck shop” (which really should be considered when choosing which clothes to bring).  I’m talking about something as simple as having the right balance of ‘skin’ to ‘not skin’ in a headshot. Pragmatically speaking, a headshot is just hair, face and shoulders. Headshots with an uneven skin : notskin ratio just feels off somehow.  It tends to un-flatter and visually undermine credibility. Even ignoring the burden of social stigma... a large problem with sleeveless is just a ‘visual balance’ thing that usually feels ‘off’.  I like sleeves.

Sleeveless tops (if appropriate at all) are more suited to the realm of wider, more creative portraiture - waist-up with arms and hands in the frame.  This gives a bit more context and balances out the skin : notskin ratio with other information in the frame.


2. Jewellery.  The most important piece (especially in your headshot) is the necklace.  Mainly, it’s one of the key ingredients that frames your face in a photo (besides hair & neckline).  And part of it comes back to the skin : notskin ratio. Sometimes adding a necklace to a more ‘plunging’ neckline breaks it up a bit and helps balance out that ration on camera.

Earrings get second place.  Often the expression is so engaging they get overlooked.  Although, short hair ups the earring value and long or voluminous hair diminishes their importance.


Give it your best guess.  Bring lots of options.

Gents.

1. A more fitted suit (any shirt or jacket, for that matter) is always more flattering.  No matter what size you are. For real. Visually, think about a suit that’s too large and what that conveys.  Whether you are standing there in a suit that cost $12,000 or $120... You look like you’re out of your depth… like you’re drowning - in fabric, metaphorically of course… but the visual communication is the same result.  Not a good visual impression. There are lots of surprising subtleties like this that I’ve uncovered over the years.

I have clips and clamps and stuff on hand to try to pinch up some of the looser fabric in order to create a better effect.  The good thing about photography is that we can always cheat a bit.

2.  Bring options.  A couple jackets…  A few different shirts…  Some ties (if ties are your thing).  There are pieces and combinations that just look better on camera than others.  

I have a contrast ‘rule’ that I recommend to clients… and tend to follow personally.  Based on how are eyes have evolved, you want the brighter things closer to your face because that’s where our attention evolved to go.  Breaking the rule with a bad example would be a lighter coloured jacket and a darker shirt. It unsettles the eye and almost never looks good on camera…  Unless you also have a fedora, thick moustache and a cigar.


This is not written in stone.

Clothing surprises me almost every day.

Give it your best guess.

Bring lots of options.