With the advent of fashion blogging, the importance of photographing outfits has grown. Whether it is a photo series of personal style, others’ street-wear or celebrity events, the common denominator is the use of tricks by the stylist to create complementing outfits for the model. Someone may look fantastic in person, but unfortunately cameras sometimes capture unflattering images because of bad angles or lighting. The camera can make someone appear larger than they really are and factors like fabric color and inexperience at posing add complication to capturing an outfit well.
It Starts With the Clothes
There are ways to style and angle yourself to pull off a good photo in any ensemble. There are definitely clothing pieces that make the work easier because of its overall shape. Elizabeth Olsen chose a difficult outfit to work at the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CDFA) Fashion Awards because of the wide trouser and top combination. Ashley Olsen did the opposite by cinching her wide blouse at the waist. Ashley’s outfit opt is seen as better because its an ideal look that accentuates petite and curvy shapes. Bustier women would be advised against wearing blouses with breast pockets because it broadens curves that are already well-represented without them. For a woman with larger upper arms, cap sleeves expose what the camera wants hidden. If the edges of a partially tucked-in T-shirt fall just at the hips of a pear-shaped woman, the camera picks it up as hips that are overly wide for the woman’s proportion. This is usually due to flat lighting that doesn’t “sculpt” images, unlike soft lighting that creates favorable shadows.
Monochromatic is Good, but Beware Black
When it comes to dressing for an event, many women opt for black because of its theorized slimming effect. But black outfits — especially all black outfits — are not easily photographed in most light because the details and lines of the outfit that would otherwise create definition tend to get lost in the darkness. In clothing that are off black or charcoal, you aren’t hindered by the illusion that everything is one melded outfit. In black trousers and a long-sleeved top, two legs can look like one, or arms can look glued to the torso. Otherwise, keep with a monochromatic outfit — which still provides a stream-lined appearance — in a couple layers in any choice of color.
Proper posture and calculated angling can make or break an outfit in a photograph. For frontal photographs, pushing your rear-end backwards so that you open up the area between your legs and pelvis creates an illusion of longer, toned legs. Lifting the chin slightly upwards angles the jawline, but not so much to where your neck makes one awkward line with your face. For side shots, move your arms slightly away from your torso so that it appears as if your arm is in a natural position without flattening the upper arm, making it look fatter than it actually is. Similarly, it’s advisable to separate the legs enough so that it doesn’t seem like you have one trunk for a bottom half. Slightly bending the knee of the leg furthest away from the camera while the other is straight, makes for slimmer thighs. And while heels are not requisite, wearing them gives lift for definition between the butt and legs.
Details of the fabric — buttons, flaps, ruching, et cetera — are good things to hone in on. As a whole outfit shot, these details separate the fabric to add dimension; as a partial outfit shot or close up shot, details like jewelry, fabric color or makeup can be used to accentuate a model’s best features. The rumple of a sloppily tucked-in shirt sometimes photographs better than a shirt not tucked in at an awkward length. A button-down blouse draws the eyes bilaterally down the torso, slimming your frame. Wherever fabric is gathered, make sure it doesn’t accentuate features of your body you don’t like but adds bulk to where you’d like. Both what you wear and how you wear it is essential for looking top-notch in fashion photos.
References and ResourcesStylist Jeanne Yang on Fashion Photo Tricks
Fashion Week Notes from NYmag.com