I was wondering, in the case of a classic head + shoulder portrait, which color of clothes should the model wear to improve the photo?

What if is a white skin model? an Asian skin model? Dark skin model?


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    What is the purpose of the portrait? There are lots of different options for what colors would be good depending on the purpose. – AJ Henderson May 15 '14 at 15:48
  • In this case they are graduation portraits. I am trying to give a few advices with clothes to avoid, which to recommend. – Garronde May 15 '14 at 16:14
  • What shade of blue? – AJ Henderson May 15 '14 at 16:15
  • Clear blue. Something like this blue: thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/… – Garronde May 15 '14 at 16:17

White clothes are a great go-to color for a bright colored background. This will put skintones into a color saturation middle-ground. With dark/black clothes our brains sort-of disqualify it from our impression of saturation. So that would leave the person's face and hair looking dull and neutral in contrast, which in turn puts too much emphasis on the background, making it distracting.

White also has a "fresh" or "new" feel, excellent themes for graduation.

It looks like you have a very light blue background. Keep in mind that lighting from behind (such as a hairlight or rimming) may blend edges into the background, losing definition. Unless you can keep enough light off the background to get it around mid-toned, then adding a bright rim would be a positive thing.


For a graduation portrait, you want something that will provide good contrast but not clash too aggressively with the background. To maintain contrast, avoid blues that are close to the backdrop (if not altogether). For a medium blue, probably avoid medium greys as well since they have similar luminosity to the background.

To avoid clashing, avoid the opposite side of the color wheel. So orange would probably be a bit too jump off the page, but also isn't really much of a graduation portrait color to begin with.

As this is a graduation photo, assuming that the school colors are not blue or orange, it might be worth suggesting that color. Often graduation photos are taken wearing a cap and gown as well (either black or whatever color the school uses).

  • Thanks, I will tell people to avoid any blue or orange. I was asking because the school doesn't impose any outfit, people are free to come dress as them assume is the best. – Garronde May 15 '14 at 16:27

White dies not go wrong most of the time, however an improper exposure or sudden movement may get your photographs off balance and loose details.

If it's graduation, something which relates to the school / college would be a good choice (motto, logo, official color)

If the model in question isn't shying from flashy colors, a Sunset yellow is a brilliant contrast.

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