21 August, 2015

Low-Key Portraits

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - The Great Court, Uni of Queensland

If I'm planning for a low-key environmental portrait, and there's an opportunity to provide pre-shooting preparation, here's what I suggest:

Nothing should distract from the face. So, in service to that principle:

Clothing colours generally
Dark, solid-colours. No patterns, stripes, checks, polka dots, graphics, logos or text. Textures (like cable knit) are okay. Wide (distracting) lace should be avoided.

Tops
Dark (but not black), long-sleeved shirts or blouses. The (non-distracting) texture in a shirt or top that adds to the "reality" of the portrait can be lost in black clothing.

Bottoms
Long, dark pants or long skirts. Jeans or denim is fine. Leggings are fine if they're opaque, dark and without distracting patterns. Black leggings/tights are okay because the further away from the face, the less relevant and useful any texture or detail is.

Shoes and socks
If feet are going to be showing, dark shoes without distracting details. Avoid the reflecting or patterned trainers that seem ubiquitous these days. Preferably not sandals. Avoid distracting socks or patterned tights.

Accessories
As little jewelry as possible. Avoid wide or distracting belts, belt buckles or anything that's shiny. Avoid wrist watches.

Hair and Makeup
The simpler the better. Only the makeup that's necessary for daylight. Avoid distracting nail polish.

Reality bites
Do subjects take all this advice? Often not.

No comments: