A Photographer's Responsibilities On Clothing Choices For Portraits

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by smoke665, Sep 11, 2019.

  1. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Okay a similar comment was getting some strong opinions, on another thread. So rather then hijack the thread I started a new one, because actually this a subject that bears discussion. Where is the line where a photographer should impose their own standards, on the subject??? We're careful about everything else, why shouldn't you use the same standards when being objective about clothing???? You hope your portrait will be around for a few years, so do you go with a classic look, or do you bend to current fads??? Where do you draw the line????

    Here's a link of interest. Clothing for Portraits - How to Tell your Subjects What to Wear


     
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  2. ac12

    ac12 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Thanks for the link.
    Totally agree. I've seen some BAD color combos when you let them wear what they want.
    I also have a new name for orange, "look at me orange." :eek:
     
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  3. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Excellent article, and question Smoke. I will say that I don't think of it as imposing "my" standards on the client, rather, that I am recommending to the client suggestions which have proven through experience to lead to better results. If the client chooses to disregard those recommendations, whether because they like the red and green flowered blouse, or because they forgot, or for any other reason, so be it. I will shoot the session and bill them no matter what they wear.
     
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  4. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    There are some things that bug me, but then I'm at that age where lots of things bug me.

    Those raggedy jeans. Sweatshirts and tee shirts with graphics printed on them. Flip-flops. Shirttails out. Pants at half-mast. Clashing colors and patterns (mentioned in the article).

    Having listed a few of they things that bug me, I will say that styles change, and some things just aren't changing fast enough. People look at photos from decades ago and laugh at the styles of clothing and hair, but they don't think that someday people will look at their portraits and laugh.

    I think that anyone who wants a decent portrait of which they might be proud even many years from now ought to care just a bit as to how they look today. It's common sense, but some people were obviously absent on the day they handed out common sense.
     
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  5. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    In clothing as in most areas of design there are classic lines that transcend the years. They change a little, ties get wider or more narrow, hemlines go up and down but by and large you have recognizable features. My personal feeling is that with a snapshot anything is acceptable but with a portrait theres a responsibility to steer them in the right direction, by preventing an obvious terrible choice. Again just a personal thing but would you want your name on something that's in bad taste?
     
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  6. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    I hate that with a passion. Few years ago my teenage nephew got on that kick. One day at a family event my brother in law remarked how he hadn't been able to stop him from doing it. Next time nephew got in range I grabbed the exposed underwear from the rear and lifted him completely off the ground giving him a giant wedge like he'd never experienced before. Kid walked funny the rest of the day, but it ended the pants hanging down phase.
     
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  7. Nwcid

    Nwcid No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I only had time to skim the article, but looks similar to others I have read.

    I think the answer is, it really depends.

    If you are doing a shoot for a client then I would offer suggestions of what types of clothing typically works best, but IMHO you also need to capture images of who that client really is. I would not want a client looking at an image of themself and thinking, "it is a nice image, but who is that". I am still relatively new at portrait work, but client really should have a connect with the image. It is our job to try and figure out how to take what is important to the client and capture that best.

    On the flip side if I the shoot is for you, or a specific vision then the photographer gets a lot more control.
     
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  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    crew cuts for the men, with neatly ironed trousers,suit jackets and neckwear,and women in dresses or skirts,with modest jewelry, and long hair. Boys in slacks only, girls in skirts or dresses only . no dungarees. no overalls. Lace up oxford shoes only for men, and for ladies and girls, modest black footwear, either heels or boots, no sandals, no mules.

    do you get where I'm coming from?
     
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  9. CherylL

    CherylL TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Thanks for sharing the article. Bookmarked for future use. I took an impromptu photo of my daughter, SIL & their pup a few years ago when they were in town visiting. It was a nice fall photo. SIL had a shirt with writing on it and being from out of town was the only option. Most of the comments on FB was in regards to his shirt. So the shirt got all of the attention. When I did their last 2 family photos with their baby they took my suggestion of neutral colors and I think they turned out much better. The focus was on the 3 of them and not apparel.
     
  10. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    And that can be a daunting task for sure. You shouldn't impose your own tastes, opinions on the subject but at the same time as a professional who supposedly has experience with what works you have an obligation to point out the obvious. To be clear I'm referring to the more extreme here, but at what point do you say enough and refuse to do the shot, or suggest a reschedule.
     
  11. Nwcid

    Nwcid No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    That is very much a daunting task. At this point in my career I would likely not do the shoot if I was not willing to share the work socially. If you can not be proud of the work you do, how can you give your client what they deserve from you?

    I know that is much easier to say and to do but how bad do you need the work? How bad do you need that client? How will that client/shoot represent you and your business? Just remember, there are lots of clients, but you don't necessarily want all of them. While on the surface it sounds bad I had a client contact me about a job that conflicted with another engagement I had. Before I even contact them back I searched their social media as I knew it would not be a high paying client (not low either). The client had a look that I fit what I was looking for and I would be proud to share and help my business grow so I accepted the job. If the client did not have that look, I likely would have passed.

    I don't know if this is "best practice" or not, but it is where I am right now.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
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  12. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    How extreme are we talking?? I would say having done home visits, if it's a safety issue, etc. I don't think it's up to you to decide on fashion trends/choices. When I was a teenager I wore green lipstick, shopped at the army surplus store, etc. and thankfully those trends went by the wayside! Photos will often reflect the time period.

    So I don't think you're going to change the styles or fashions but I think a photographer should give suggestions on what works well. I've done events and group photos where it's often a matter of figuring out how to work with what you have the best you can.

    As far as the article, the Digital Photography School isn't a school; I think it's a one man show (or maybe two). They don't seem to pay writers or editors etc. and apparently take what people write and give or 'contribute' to the site for free so it doesn't always seem to be the best information. I see problems in some of the photos that are supposed to be the better images.

    In the first group example the subjects could have been move/rearranged to get a little better balance of the color/pattern of the clothing. I don't know that everyone wearing black, navy, and brown looked that great. Same with the linked website, a picture of a kid with the background at a slant and the shoe/foot cropped off, etc. There seem to be basic camera/photography skills lacking in some for professional work so I don't know how much of that is the best info. to use as suggestions.
     

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