Q's for the photograpers around...

I gotta have art-type photos taken of me this weekend. An art student friend of mine is doing it partly for practice for herself, and I need portraits taken anyhow. They’re going to be black and white pictures.

I’m trying to figure out what to wear for them. I know not to wear prints or stripes or busy stuff, but what shades are good? I’m extremely pale, so I thought probably a light colored fabrics would help, but I’m not sure. What looks best? Any other hints?

Also, out of sheer curiosity. what makes it so that people have a “good” side and a “bad” side? Last I checked, my face looks about the same both sides, but I know for a fact that I’m going to look weird if shots are taken from the left.

I’m not a pro photographer, but I love black and white stuff and play with them a lot. IMO, go classic. Black and white gives the image of “old fashioned” no matter what the setting. I took a lot of B/W pics of my wife and she is “tan challenged” and it didn’t seem to matter. Greys and blues looked good, and blacks made a very nice contrast. Whites weren’t quite as good, but that is just opinion of the cameraman.

To me, keep it simple, but throw in a lot of contrast. Go with a tux or something similar. The rest is in the skill of who has the camera.

Heh. Probably I’ll skip the tux, as it’s not real gender-appropriate.

It hadn’t occurred to me to try contrast, though. Does anyone know of any good sites with nice b/w photos that I’d be able to peruse for ideas?


Tuxedos are appropriate these days for both genders. I’m a member of a fraternal organization that admits women, and our officers wear tuxedos to perform certain ceremonies.

When women were admitted, it was standard to ask them to wear a dark skirt or slacks and a white shirt. However, one of the women went out and bought a tuxedo with tails and wore it to the ceremonies. I had my doubts as to how it would look, but I was wrong, She looked incredible!

Try it - that might be the “hook” you’re looking for.

I don’t do portraits, but…

Wear something in the mid-to-dark range - under NO circumstances should a pale person wear light colors - for a portrait to work, the viewer must be able to tell where face ends, and shoulders begin.

And reds do weird things with b/w - if you’re not familiar with b/w photography, don’t wear red. (Regardless of skin tone, btw)

For the rest - let the photographer figure it out - that’s her part of the deal.

Why people have “good” vs. “bad” sides - simple. Faces are not symmetrical - an old darkroom trick involved taking two identical shots of a face, and precisely splitting both down the middle. One would then use the two right-hand frames (flipping one over) for one print, the two left-hand frames for another - in most people, the difference was quite dramatic.

Digital must make that stunt a real breeze…

But mostly, show up and relax. Assuming you have agreed as to whether your are doing formal or casual portraiture, and are otherwise on the same wavelength…

And Rico -

Down, boy, down! Just because you get excited by women in tux’es doesn’t mean that every woman has to wear one.

I’m in a photography class right now, and in NO way am I even close to being a ‘pro.’ However… I have the eye for fine arts, and I believe I have fairly good taste.
I think it depends on what kind of mood/tone you wanna go with
If you want super contrasting, wear black/dark clothes in a darkish area/room, or even in broad daylight. But, IMO, if you are going for portraits, rather than cool photos of you, wear somethin dull and most like grey. It’s pretty terrible to have somethin completely drawing your attention away from the face, which is generally the main part of the portrait. Having you as foreground and in focus is usually a good tactic for this, and have the background semi blurry, so people arent roaming their eyes around checkin out that cool chair on the other side of the room.

But [IMO] I usually like more of the cool photos, that aren’t exactly of just one subject, and make you think. Like a photo of you staring out a window with rain drizzling down and your reflection showing, is an interesting and cool photo.
I have no other ideas because… well… i just finish 1st quarter and I myself don’t have much experience. My last assignment was self-portraits(Coincidentally…), and, I developed my film today… The assignment was self portraits… so you either have a timer, or have a friend take the pic of you and you manipulate light and everything. (I’m talking about a high school class… Not some college super art photography class.)

Just suggestions:rolleyes:

Black and white portraiture is my favorite type of work. (I’m a budding freelancer, studying hard. :))

Is your friend going to use C-41 or real black and white film? (C-41 b/w is film that looks b/w but is processed like color.) I’d recommend real b/w for the best results, although C-41 is a hell of a lot cheaper to process. (I like to use it sometimes as proofs, and then take the good prints to a good custom lab and have them printed on b/w paper.)

C-41 b/w always has a color cast, whether it be brown/blue/green, so you won’t get the beautiful pure tones and contrast you’d get out of real b/w.

Anyway, as for my advice for you…PLEASE do not worry about how you look. Your friend will probably take many pictures, so don’t stress over each one. Let her know which side you’re more comfortable with, but beyond that, relax and let her do the work. Nothing’s more difficult than a subject who’s trying to “see” the picture while posing for it. The most beautiful portraits are taken when the subject forgets the camera is looking; most people tense up and keep trying to force their “picture smile” onto their faces, or worry about the angle of their chins, or whether “this makes me look fat” or “are my smile lines showing” or whatever. Vanity, oddly enough, has ruined many potentially great pictures.

I’m sure you have a beautiful smile; relax and let it shine. Don’t hold the same pose forever; do what feels natural to you, make faces, laugh out loud, look serious…give your photographer a range to work with and I promise you’ll get wonderful portraits of yourself.

As for what to wear…honestly, IME, people look best in whatever they’re most comfortable in. I did a shoot of my gal pal and her boyfriend, in which she wore a simple black and white sundress with a big flower print…she’s normally a jeans type of gal but she loved that dress because it made her feel feminine, and she lit up the photographs while wearing it. The print wasn’t a problem at all.

And I’m extremely pale myself, and one of my favorite pictures of myself is one in which I’m wearing a simple white T-shirt and a baseball cap.

My point is that there aren’t many rules which aren’t made to be broken. Wear what you like, what flatters you, what you feel good wearing. If it happens to be a white T-shirt, wear it! No one is so white that their skin will match white fabric, and white is also a great light-reflector, so you may want to consider it. I personally don’t like wearing dark/black clothing in b/w, because it makes me look even more pale. Which may be the dramatic emphasis you’d like…a lot depends on what kind of pictures you’re doing, and what the photographer’s goals are…

So my main advice for you is to R-E-L-A-X. A good shoot is one in which you get a handful of pictures you really love; I’ve never seen anyone who can shoot four/five rolls of film and love each freakin’ picture. So don’t worry about each shot; just take a deep breath and go with it.

You’re pale?

Have her use a light green filter.

Really. It helps the skin tones contrasts in B&W.

This is surreal. A woman asks what she should wear for an “art-type photo” session, and in 24 hours no one has suggested the birthday suit!? Am I still on the internet?

C’mon people, get your minds back in the gutter!

If you have enough time, and your friend has enough film, take a few different outfits and change clothes.

Good luck on your photo shoot, Smashed Ice Cream. Have fun!

Whoah heresiarch that’s a damn fine point.

Thanks, everyone for all the replies. I realize, now, that I have a perfect excuse to go shopping.

I think I’ll go with a medium-to-dark shirt and very dark jeans for contrast. It will likely be overcast all day and we’re shooting outside, so the bright-sun-bleaching-me-out effect shouldn’t happen.

And thanks to those who told me to relax. I’m sure it really is the key to how it turns out. If I get 5 really cool shots out of 4 rolls of film, I’ll be thrilled.

I’m surprised that no one else has done this yet.

This thread was photograped by the photograpist!

I slay me.

Someone has too…