Marketing & Branding Advice

What Should I Wear for My Portrait Photoshoot?

Clothes On Hangers

I get asked this question fairly regularly by clients and marketing professionals preparing for the firm’s “photo day.” It’s an important question and one that can make a difference in the success of the photo. Here are some quick tips to help you prepare:

Basic Portrait Check List

  • Dress Professionally:
    Wear clothing that is professional and appropriate for meeting a client for the first time. Some firms will ask that men wear a jacket and tie, others will not. That decision should be based on your firm’s culture and what your clients and prospects might expect.
  • Don’t Forget Pants & Shoes:
    Often, portraits are taken from the waist-up. However, sometimes three-quarter or full-body portraits are taken. I recommend that you wear matching suit pants/skirts just in case they are visible, as well as appropriate shoes.
  • Try On Clothes at Home:
    We’ve all been there…. that suit jacket that buttoned comfortably a year ago is suddenly mighty tight. Snug clothes will make you feel uncomfortable and can look unflattering in a photo. But clothes that are too large can also be problematic. It’s worth investing in well-tailored clothing for your portrait image.
  • No Wrinkles:
    Make sure clothing is just-pressed. I encourage bringing clothes on hangers and changing right before your shoot.
  • Seasonless:
    Clothing should look “season-less.” Women should avoid sleeveless tops and/or bring a jacket or cardigan. Men should avoid light colored summer jackets or short sleeved shirts.
  • Solid Colors:
    Solid colors work best. Avoid “loud” patterns/prints on clothing. If you are not sure what will look best, bring a few options. The photographer will advise you as to what will be most flattering in the photo.
  • No Big Jewelry:
    Jewelry should be kept minimal so the focus is on your face. Large jewelry can also date a photo quickly.
  • Razors & Makeup:
    Bring a brush/comb, a razor (if you are prone to five o’clock shadow), powder/makeup/hairspray to touch-up just prior to the shoot. If the budget allows, I highly recommend hiring a professional makeup artist, it truly makes everyone look and feel better.
  • Lotion & Lip Balm:
    Bring moisturizer for your face and lips.
  • Hair Cuts:
    Do not get haircuts right before the shoot, plan ahead at least a few days, preferably a week.
  • Toothbrush & Toothpaste:
    Remember your toothbrush/toothpaste for a nice bright smile!

Incorporating Brand Colors

If you are scheduling a portrait shoot in conjunction with a website redesign or rebranding, it can help tremendously if everyone adheres to your brand colors or, at minimum, avoids colors that are especially off-brand. For example, if your firm’s brand colors are blue and gray, a hot pink blouse could look especially out of place. You might include instructions like:

“The new website will predominantly use our firm’s brand colors, blue and gray, so we’d like your clothing to coordinate. The best colors to wear for jackets and sweaters are navy, gray, and charcoal. For shirts and blouses worn underneath, white, ivory, and light blue will work well. Other colors that will work include brown, tan, beige, teal, and aqua. Please avoid bright colors such as red, orange, yellow, bright green, lime green, pink, or purple.”

Here’s a great example of a partner who matched his tie and pocket square to the firm’s bright brand colors:

Kosta Ligris Portrait with bright color squares

The consistent choice of blue clothing created a powerful, cohesive family feel at this investment management firm:


The Power of Black & White

Black and white portrait photography can create a very classic, sophisticated, elegant look. It can also eliminate a lot of problems with clashing colors. Here, portraits were shot full-figure, in black and white, with natural daylight:


Corporate & Casual Portrait Options

We are seeing more firms invest in portrait options, so their team can be shown in both “corporate” and more “casual” attire. In both examples below, the corporate shots were taken in black and white, while the casual shots are in color. The effect can be seen on “rollover” of your mouse, click-through to watch:


More Portrait Tips

For more tips and ideas about portrait photography, check out other articles I’ve written:

Tips for Portrait Photography During COVID

5 Tips for a Successful Photoshoot

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