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Decide Clothing Options Prior to Session

Lesson 35 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

Decide Clothing Options Prior to Session

Lesson 35 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

35. Decide Clothing Options Prior to Session

Next Lesson: Client Interaction


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


How to Make Senior Photos Stand Out


What is Lighting in Layers?


Build a Lighting Foundation


Layer One: Main Light


Layer Two: Fill Light


Layer Three: Accent Light


Layer Four: Additional Light


Lesson Info

Decide Clothing Options Prior to Session

So we will move onto clothing, which is obviously an important part with any session. As you saw in the studio when we were photographing Cooper and Maggie, the first thing we did was we went through the clothing rack and figured out what we were gonna use. And before we ever got to that point, I spoke with all four of the seniors that we used for the shoots on the phone. And I told them, this was obviously an abbreviated session meant for teaching, but I still wanted the clothing to be something that they felt comfortable in, and more importantly, something that I would know would work on the camera. So I called each one of them. I said we're gonna do the shoot. We're gonna be in studio or on location, if we're on location, here's the general idea of what we're going for. Bring some options, let's keep the color, we want a variety, let's keep logos and graphics to a minimum, because I don't want that to age the photos. You know, if you have somebody who has a giant logo across the fro...

nt of their shirt, in five years, not only might that not even be something that's fun or neat anymore, they might regret having that in their pictures to begin with. So I want to make anything I can do to make the photos more timeless, and get rid of that distraction as well. I also want to make sure that they bring a variety because even for me, with seniors having their photos generally in the summer, if they're handing them out to their grandparents at Christmas, or if they're looking back four years later through an album, I want the photos to look like they might've been from multiple times of the year, so I want them to bring everything from jeans or clothes they might wear in the fall to dresses or things they might wear in the summer, and that variety also comes in with style, something that they might wear out with their friends on a Friday night to something that they might wear to a formal dinner. So I want to kind of cover everything so we get the full variety of seasons and from casual to formal, just so when I'm going through to make that album later, we have enough images and enough variety where they feel, when you turn the page, you never know what's gonna happen next as far as what they're gonna be wearing and all that. Same with colors. Before I did pre-session consults, I had a senior, this was probably like 2007, and she came in with, she didn't even know she did this, she just knew she liked blue. And she brought in, every single outfit was blue. And I was like, is this a joke? But no, it was for real. And then looking on, so what happened was, she ended up rescheduling, having to schedule a second, because she had not even thought about it, and all of her clothes were in one of those hanger bags, so she hadn't really saw 'em all together. She was just randomly buying things at stores here and there in the weeks before her session, and it just turns out that everything was blue. So she was in a blue dress or a blue shirt or a blue whatever, if I did a closeup, it basically just looked like the same image over and over as far as clothing. So through years of experience I've kinda learned what to address, and even those things that seem really obvious, sometimes they're not. So I want to go over that stuff at the pre-session consult. And sometimes they'll even ask, can we bring in a couple of these dresses so you can pick one? And I am all about that because I'd rather see what they're thinking then, and maybe they bring in three things and they're all way off base. Then we can talk about what they should be looking for. And there isn't necessarily a right or wrong, it's kind of, it's the style that they want, it's what I know will work on camera, it's gonna mesh well with the location we wanna go to, things like that. So we're going over all that, again, educating them on the process. And then it assures me that when they come in the photos are gonna turn out as good as possible because we've already prepared for those things. So use what you know about the senior and what you know about photography as a guide when it comes time to selecting the clothes, and even certain little things I can think of, for instance with Anna in the video we showed in the last segment about, on the beach, when it was really windy. That wouldn't have been a great time for a shorter dress or a skirt, because the wind was just howling. So she would've been so worried about that, that the photos would have had that whole thing to contend with, so she was in jeans and just a normal shirt. One less thing to have to worry about, and adding to the comfort of the whole session. So, accessories can really help when it comes to direction and capturing personality. Whether it's something as simple as jewelry to kind of polish up a shoot, but it also gives something for people to hold onto, to mess with, for them to interact with. I love having people twist rings around their fingers, especially girls, because it's something a lot of people do when they're just standing around, and then it gets them from this mugshot type of pose to having their hands up in the shot and having them do something that's natural, but it's also flattering. Same with adjusting watches, sleeves, necklaces, to get hands up even closer. I'm always, I'm a big fan of accessories because they bring everything together and they also give me something else to work with. And they add a little personality to the shot. Accessories can also be props for activities. Whether it's musical instruments, stuff from sports, baseball bats, basketballs, that type of thing. Anything that they're into. You saw Anna brought her dance stuff, and anything that can add more to their personality and give me something to work with. So we're always talking about that. And I always tell the seniors, whether it's clothing or accessories, the worst thing that happens is that you bring it and we don't use it, so throw it in your car. Because if you leave it at home, then there's no change we're gonna be able to use it. And I've had so many times where people say, oh, he would've brought his baseball glove but I didn't know we were gonna go to the field. And I thought, well, we talked about baseball at the thing, so it's kind of one of those things. Just throw it in the car. Again, the worst thing that will happen is we don't use it and you take it home. But if you don't have it, there's no chance we're gonna be able to use it. Be aware of what to avoid and relay that to the client which will result in a more successful shoot. Again, that's, if you know there are certain colors that aren't gonna work, if you know there's certain patterns, if you know how the weather's gonna be, you can prepare them for that. Another thing I didn't mention with clothing and I don't think it's in the next slide, eh, maybe it is, let's move forward. So think about the variety and consider the products you offer. Like I said before, if you offer an album that has 30 images in it, you need to fill that album with variety, so that's where I'm trying to suggest all those different formal to casual and all the colors. And again, everybody knows what they look good in, so why don't you start there? Everybody kinda has that go to. You'll probably see me wearing gray or blue 99% of the time. It's because I like that, they're my favorite colors. So if I were to do a photoshoot, that's kinda where I would start. A lot of people, you know, you might suggest, Oh, well this background's this so why don't you wear red, and in their head they're thinking, oh my gosh, I hate how I look in red, or whatever color it is. So I always ask them at the consultation, are there any certain colors or certain outfits that you put on and just you know you feel good, you get that good attitude or you know you look good. And everybody has something. So I wanna just ask, because sometimes they don't exactly want to come out and say I look pretty bomb in a pink shirt, and it's like, alright, well if that's what gets your attitude going, then we'll make it work. And I want to know those things because I want them to feel comfortable and confident. So just ask. Okay, yeah, this is what I did want to get to. So when starting a session, I have them start in their least favorite outfit. And it wasn't something, yesterday we had the clothing racks in here for Cooper and Maggie. That wasn't something I was so worried about then because we were mostly focused on the lighting and the technical aspects of the photo. But what I like to do with all the normal seniors is at their session, we've already gone over all their clothes at the consultation, and when they come to the actual session, we bring all the clothes out of their car, we go help them carry them in, we put 'em on a rack in the studio. And we're looking through to pair everything up and I ask them, what is your least favorite outfit that you brought today, and what is your most favorite? They're always going to grab their most favorite, they're like, oh I love this blue dress. And I'm thinking, alright, let's hang this up here because we're gonna use it later. Now what is your least favorite? And it might be something simple, whatever it is, I have them put that on first. Because generally speaking, these seniors aren't models, and they're not used to being in front of the camera. They might even think they are, but as soon as I point the camera at them, you see that stiff look, cheesy smiles and the whole works. I want that time of warming up and getting to know them to not be in their most favorite outfit, because those are probably gonna be their least favorite photos. So by putting them in their least favorite outfit to start, I know that those warmup photos, we're not gonna be wasting time, and I'm not gonna be wasting frames, on something that they really love. And on the back end, they're always glad that we did that because sometimes we just end up skipping through those first several shots, because you can tell, as someone gets more and more comfortable, I want them to be wearing something that they love once they're warmed up. So I'm all about starting the session in whatever they like the least. And hopefully they like everything they brought, but there's always something that they don't really care about or they just threw it in there. That's kinda what we do the photobooth images, and things like that, I always call it doing the warmups, it's kinda like for a basketball game when the team goes out there and stretches and shoots around. I need that to get used to them, figure out what lenses, what angles work better, so those photos are a warmup for me too, they're not necessarily I'm looking to sell. It's just kind of the start of every session. Next, any questions about any of that? So it's not really clothing, but glasses. Oh yeah, yep. So, glasses. What do you do with glasses, because with lighting and everything, you get a lot of people that have a glare? Yeah, so with glasses, that's a great point to bring up at a consultation because a lot of times what you can do is, they can go to the eye doctor or they can get the lenses removed from the frames, get a pair of sample frames that don't have the lenses in them so you can avoid that glare. If it's a situation where they forgot to tell you that they wear glasses and they show up, that can be a little tricky. I know we spoke about this earlier, but for those who didn't get to hear. Two other things I'll do is, one, if there's no other way around it, I will, especially when you're using lighting, you can kind of do some tests, you can turn on the modeling lights and see where that glare is happening and try to avoid it. That's not ideal because you get worried about that. Another thing is, even getting, if we're gonna be using glasses in one situation and one facial angle, again, getting a couple frames of them without their glasses on just so you have a few shots of their eyes. Because, I've definitely had to do this before, especially with business portraits where we get a lot of bankers or attorneys who wear glasses. I'll get a couple shots of them seated without their glasses, because then I know I'm gonna have to composite in eyeballs underneath where the glare is happening. And you can do it where it looks really natural, but again, that's just a time intensive thing. So ideally, they're not wearing glasses, but if not, the preparation where you can get them to bring in empty frames is really your best option, because once you get to a point where they're at the session with glasses, it just is kind of frustrating. So try to get them to get the lensless frames, and go from there. Question from KingBingo1, are there types of patterns and colors to steer away from? Can you just talk to that again please? As far as colors, there are certain things that'll throw your camera almost out of gamut, you know, like some of those neons and things like that that come across as, they're just almost too bright for printing to handle. Same with if I'm doing, some of the shoots, that's why I want them to bring a variety as well. A white shirt may not be ideal for a black and white image where you want the focus to be on their face and not blow out their shirt. So I always want them to bring that variety of color so we can figure out what's gonna work. I don't necessarily say, no don't bring this or don't bring that. I want them to bring more than they think we'll need, and that goes with when I am telling them to bring outfits, I'll tell them, alright in a two-hour session, we'll generally use about four or five outfits, but I want you to bring at least eight. Because that way, if they bring in a few that I instantly know are not gonna work, then we can set those to the side, and I know that we still have enough other content and other options that we'll be covered. So there isn't anything that I really tell them yes or no, because I want their personality to shine, so if there's someone who wears plaid shirts and jeans, sometimes photographers say stripes don't look that good. Well, that can be right, but if that's their personality and that's what's gonna show and that's what they feel comfortable in, I'd rather make it work and figure it out than have something that's not them. And again, telling them to bring a little more than they think they need, just so that way I have the options. But there isn't anything I really steer away from. I'd rather have it be about them and figure it out.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Lighting Gear List

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Lighting Terms Guide

Ratings and Reviews

pete hopkins

awesome teacher and awesome technique. after soooo many webinars, it's really great to see someone break it down to the bare bones of lighting with exceptional quality results. i can listen to Dan all day. no pretense, no over the top emotional pleas, no drama! did i say awesome!!!! Plus, I'm a huge fan of the B! and B2 systems. Freedom is key. Now I can shoot anywhere, anytime. Thanks Dan.


This is by far the best class on senior photography I have found on creativelive. Dan explains the technical aspects in an easy to understand format. He does a great job going through studio shots, outdoor shots, editing and marketing. He's given me some great ideas and inspired me to be more creative. I am going to rewatch the lighting set up for the "hero shot". It's super cool!

Tristanne Endrina

Dan was great. His class was very comprehensive but easy to follow. The slides he used weren't flashy. Instead, they were simple and he went at a good pace. I left feeling like I could really pull off the lighting techniques he taught. I'm excited to put what I learned into my photography. :) Thanks, Dan.

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