Photography for Cleveland and Northeast Ohio by photographer Tom Szabo

Clothing, Make-up and Prop suggestions for Portrait Photography


Clothing, Make-up and Prop suggestions for Portrait Photography

Clients often ask questions about clothing when scheduling a sitting. Depending on the type of portrait or the intended use, recommendations vary.  Below is a list of suggestions for a wide range of portrait types.  As always, guidelines are simply that – guidelines!  Feel free to contact the studio with questions and comments.

Family portraits can be both formal and casual. The suggestions listed below will cover both types.

Formal – Male

A dark (Black, Charcoal, Navy Blue) jacket with complimenting or contrasting slacks.  Collared shirts with a tie to compliment the coat and slacks.  Ties can be considered optional.

Formal – Female

Dresses or Skirt & Blouse in conservative color pallets, Black, Navy Blue, Maroon pieces. Fabric texture or print should compliment the rest of the family. A bold and bright floral print might not fit well with dark solid clothing worn by the rest of the family.  Sleeve length should be something that makes you feel comfortable.  Scarves should match or compliment with the outfit.

Jewelry – Either complimentary to the outfit or suit your personal taste.

Casual – Male or Female (Think about having fun with the casual styles).  Pants can be Denim, Khaki or other solid colors with a comfortable collared or polo shirt.  Shirt colors can be light blue, denim, white or something on which all family members agree.

Slacks and shirts can be the same color for all family members or can be selected to separate males from females or sub-families of a larger family.  Clothing color or styles can be chosen to show a theme.

High School Seniors

  • Make a fashion statement.
  • Show sports or hobby interest.
  • Props can also be used (Please advise the studio in advance for size and location considerations.)

Executive Portraits

Consider the purpose of the portrait, i.e. press release vs. framed in the Boardroom.  Clothing may also reflect the audience – formal vs. casual attire. Both may be done for multiple audiences or markets.  Props may also be considered to reflect market statements or professionalism.

Personal Portfolio

Multiple outfits are common and may be chosen to reflect the image end use or recipient: Professional, Family, Friend(s), Significant Other

Hair and Make-up

  • Hair style(s) can be normal and/or not normal for you. This can accommodate the intent of the portrait.
  • Have hair cut a couple of weeks in advance for a more natural look.
  • Bring your personal hair and/or makeup products to the studio for touch ups or to change style.
  • Contact the studio to discuss skin problems or blemishes before your sitting. Some of these issues can be handled through touch-up prior to printing.


Stay away from the sun prior to your sitting. Sunburn can accentuate facial features and can require significant touch up. Give the sunburn some time to fade a bit before your portrait sitting!

A nice tan can certainly enhance your appearance. Uneven tanning, especially on the face can require touch up to smoothen skin tones. If you have some significant variations in skin tones, consider bringing your make up with you.



April 30, 2009 Posted by | Portrait | , , , | Leave a comment

Business Cards – Photo or No Photo

When do you listen to the so-called experts? I’ve attended seminars where marketing Guru’s tell the audience just what to do and what not to do. At one such event, the Guru told the audience not to put your photo on your business card. As a photographer can you picture my head snap around when I heard that statement? Now is that a rule or a guideline? Rules are one thing, but a guideline is just that – a guideline. Actually, photographers believe rules are made to be broken! I know, I know – what a rebel!

Let’s consider this scenario – you are calling on the owner of a large plumbing distributor, how would you dress? Walk in wearing a $1500 designer suit with spit-polished shoes, the plumber’s impression – What do you know about plumbing or manual labor? Wear a pair of casual slacks and a polo shirt, he might think; you actually understand working for a living! That’s an impression that might get you more attention and respect. Ask yourself – What’s appropriate?

How you communicate with your market may not fit a specific rule. Although this rule might apply – “don’t blurt out something that angers your prospect”. You have to tailor your message to suit your intended audience, just like the clothing the salesman wore in the example above.

Ok, back to photos on business cards. I look at this much the same way. As a photographer, I think it’s quite appropriate when prospects see my photo on my business card. Real estate agents are notorious for putting their photo on all their marketing materials. Look at how agents are compensated – they work on commission. No sale – no pay! If a marketing tool doesn’t make them money, you can bet it gets thrown out.

For some businesses, the owner or representative is the product being sold. We are selling our skills. In a case like that, I believe it’s perfectly acceptable to have your photo on the card. Imagine you get a phone call from a customer referral. Your customer gave the prospect your business card. Your prospect agrees to meet you at the local coffee shop for the first time. What if your competitor walked in 5 minutes ahead of you and your prospect mistakes him for you? Wow, that’s bad for business. Your photo on the business card may be just the ticket to getting picked out of the crowd.

Another one of my favorites, does “stock” photography really represent your company? When your prospect walks into your office and it looks nothing like the “stock photograph” used in your brochure, what’s the impression?

So ask yourself: What’s your message to your marketplace? What will you use to communicate that message? And remember that word “appropriate”. Do what’s “appropriate” for your marketplace, prospect or customer. Does your message require text, graphics, photos or all three? That’s what should be on your business card, literature, web site, blog, letterhead or any marketing material you use for your business.

After all, your customer pays the invoice, which ultimately pays your salary! It’s simple, No sale, No invoice, No paycheck. They’re opinion is the one that counts. Not necessarily what the Guru says!

You can learn more about A Thomas Image by viewing the studio web site.

Next time let’s talk about photos on Social Networking sites!


April 30, 2009 Posted by | Commercial, Portrait | Leave a comment

Q: Why a professional photographer?

A: A trained eye!  I know, you know someone with a very expensive digital camera and a big lens. So why should you hire a professional photographer?  As I said it earlier, “A Trained Eye”.  Professional photographers –


  • Have studied their art
  • Understand light
  • Understand creative composition
  • Are creative
  • Invest in tons of equipment and more importantly know how to use that equipment!
  • Are business people. As a result they select suppliers they know will provide performance and quality.
  • Understand how to satisfy customers
  • Offer products and services that are unique and exciting

Sure your friend, relative, or neighbor will work for almost nothing. You think you will save a lot of money.  So, You trust your family’s portrait or your wedding day to a person with the expensive camera and big lens. What happens when the results are less than you expected?  After all, they sure had a big camera!

That’s why your friend, relative, or neighbor can’t compete with a professional photographer. Be an educated consumer – you’ll save money!


April 30, 2009 Posted by | Commercial, Portrait, Wedding | Leave a comment